Dealing With The Unexpected
Friday, November 5th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
The danger of the unexpected for Tulsa Police. Just 24 hours ago, Tulsa Police dispatchers send out a dreaded two word message, officer down. While answering a mental health call Thursday, TPD officer Max Dugan was shot in the hand. He's OK, but the shooting highlights the dangers that officers face everyday. Thursday night's call came from the family of Jerry Hine, they were worried about his mental state. When police arrived, Hine started shooting. Officers fired back, but only with a bean bag launcher. Hine wasn't hurt and was taken into custody. Mental health experts say those with a mental illness aren't any more dangerous than others, if they're receiving treatment. Police are dispatched to dozens of calls every day, many of them involving the mentally ill. Wednesday night's police shooting is what officers hope to avoid, but sometimes it can't be stopped. Police are dispatched to dozens of calls every day... many of them involving the mentally ill. Wednesday night's police shooting is what officers hope to avoid, but sometimes it can't be stopped. TPD Sgt Ed Pierce says " well my brother was shot 4 times about a year and a half ago doing the same thing so I consider them extremely dangerous you never know what to expect." Tulsa County Deputy Randy Pierce is still recovering after being shot last year by Darrow Ford, who has a mental illness. Some officers say these shootings have taught them to take extra precautions on mental health calls. TPD Officer David Gervino "especially with a mentally ill person because you don't always know how they're going to react what will tick them off." He adds, "even if you take every precaution like he did last night, there's still some danger in something like that." Mental health experts say police may be taking more safety precautions, but they are also learning to be more understanding. Mental Health Association, Mike Brose says "there wasn't that many years ago when we've seen instances where deadly force was used in these kind of situations." In addition, he says, "I don't know if the public realizes that we have a model system here in Tulsa." One new tool for police is known as MOCS, or Mobile Outreach Crisis Service. Trained mental health workers come to the scene to counsel and get a person help. Shawn Blankenship says "it allows the opportunity to provide mental services wherever the person is." MOCS is part of Parkside Hospital and takes calls 24 hours a day. Tulsa law enforcement gives them one third of their business. It's the only program like it in the state. Both police and mental health providers say it has literally been a life-saver. Mental health experts say the mentally ill, when treated, are no more dangerous than the average person. It's when they aren't receiving treatment that they can sometimes exhibit violent behavior.