The Cherokee Police Department and Alfalfa County Sheriff’s Department recently received an item to help when dealing with potential mental health patients.
The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services provided each of the departments with an iPad.
The iPads will connect directly to a counselor who then can virtually evaluate a patient and decide the best treatment.
If the counselor sees a need for treatment, the law enforcement agency will then transport the patient to a location with available beds anywhere in the state.
According to Cherokee Police Chief Ryan McNeil, this will cut down on evaluation time. Currently they are spending 4-5 hours at the hospital on evaluation and then they might have to transport to whereever there is an available bed if needed. The whole process could be seven or more hours.
With this new system, the evaluation could take one hour plus the time to transport, which could take a few more hours depending on location.
The iPads received on Sept. 29 are cellular base and will cost nothing to the agencies.
In the future the iPads will have the ability for law enforcement to get mental health training as part of their continuing education hour needed, as well as the ability for first responders to use after a traumatic event is in the works.