The Owasso Police Department is the latest to use iPads in the field to connect people facing a mental health crisis to a professional. Each officer has been issued an iPad, and with one tap can connect someone struggling with proper help.
Lt. Nick Boatman said officers put them to use within a day of receiving them. When necessary, an officer can tap on an app and it will connect someone with an expert, like a FaceTime call.
The mental health professional will determine the best course of action for the person they are speaking with. The program is designed to cut out hours of delays in getting someone help.
“Your average police officer is not a mental health professional,” said Lt. Boatman. “We are called upon first line to make those determinations in the field immediately, and so what used to take time interacting with a person just to determine whether something’s going on now, we have this resource that we can go to a professional immediately.”
The iPads are provided by Grand Lake Mental Health, which also offers devices to several other agencies across northeastern Oklahoma.
“It’s literally like having a mental health therapist ride in your police car with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” said Jim Warring, Grand Lake Mental Health.
The iPads also have a feature exclusive just for officers. It allows them to have several one-on-one conversations with a mental health professional.
Warring said this is important because of some of the experiences an officer has to go through on the job.