The Edmond Sun

State News

February 27, 2014

Police, citizens suffer from lack of mental health beds

EDMOND — Edmond police officers logged more than 5,000 miles during a 12-month period transporting patients to locations including Cushing, Norman, Lawton and Ada due to a lack of mental health beds in the area.

The miles were logged from January 2013 to January 2014. Last month alone, Edmond officers drove 642 miles during 19 mental health transports.

Jenny Monroe, spokeswoman for the Edmond Police Department, said the agency is not complaining, that this is part of their job. Monroe said the lack of beds and the number of mental health patients is a reality local law enforcement deals with on a regular basis.

Monroe said the state reimburses mileage, but the City of Edmond picks up the tab for officer hours.

During the evening of Feb. 8, Police Officer Cody Hash was dispatched on a domestic disturbance call at a home north Edmond, Hash stated in his incident report. The call notes stated a male had attempted to harm himself as the Edmond Fire Department and EMSA also responded.

Hash stated he used his stun gun to prevent the victim from harming himself or others. Hash stated himself and another officer agreed the victim needed a mental health evaluation so they placed him in emergency detention.

Hash stated he went to INTEGRIS Health Edmond to watch the victim and completed a third-party statement for an emergency order of detention. He was later relieved by Police Officer Jason Lewellyn. The victim ended up being transported to Lawton.

Two days later, during the afternoon of Feb. 10, Police Officer Roger Shortt responded to a call about a male who attempted to harm himself in the vicinity of 15th and Broadway, Shortt stated in his incident report.

Shortt stated he placed the victim in emergency detention and he was transported to INTEGRIS Health Edmond where he was interviewed by a psychiatrist. A decision was made to have the victim admitted to a pyschiatric facility.

Due to a shortage of beds, the victim had to wait at the hospital until a spot opened, Shortt stated.

Monroe said during these calls officers spanning five shifts were needed to stay with the two patients placed under emergency dentention. The Edmond Police Department currently has a total of 85 officers in its Patrol Division spread out over three shifts. There are nearly 30 officers trained in crisis intervention.

Edmond Police Maj. Tim Dorsey said the number of hours spent transporting mental health patients due to a lack of beds puts a strain on the city’s resources, taking officers off the street. Dorsey said during transports, two officers are needed — one to drive and one to watch the patient.

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