Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: January 29, 2015
Sen. Ron Sharp
Senate bill to
help law enforcement with transporting mentally ill
Under Oklahoma law, sheriffs and other law enforcement
officers are responsible for transporting individuals who require
mental health services under Emergency Orders of Detention (EOD).
This is an expensive and time consuming process for the agencies
but Sen. Ron
Sharp has filed Senate Bill 252 to help by allowing them to
contract with third parties to provide such services.
“This is the first step in fixing this inefficient process
that’s putting a financial strain on our law enforcement agencies
and stretching their forces too thin,” said Sharp, R-Sharp.
“This is a real problem in smaller communities and rural areas
where agencies are already understaffed but are obligated to send
an officer, and often times two officers, for several hours to transport
a mentally ill person to a facility and wait on their evaluation.
This is not a good use of time or resources. We need to allow agencies
to fulfill this particular duty in the way that is most time and
cost effective for them.”
An Emergency Order of Detention (EOD) is a process under which a
person is deemed to be a danger to self or others due to a diminished
mental capacity. Law enforcement must transport these individuals
to the nearest medical facility for evaluation. Once at the medical
facility, the officer must contact the mental health organization
that contracts with the state Department of Mental Health to evaluate
such cases. If the subject is deemed by the mental health professional
to be a danger to self or others, arrangements are made to transport
the subject to a facility with an open bed, for further evaluation.
During the evaluation, the officer is required to stay with the
subject who is “in custody”. Finally, the subject is
entitled to a court hearing within three days and the officer(s)
must pick the individual up at the crisis facility and take him
or her to court.
Besides taking officers away from their official duties, the process
also puts a tremendous financial strain on state law enforcement
agencies. For example, from April 3, 2011, through April 2, 2012,
the Stillwater Police Department (SPD) handled 197 EODs. Using best
case time spent by officers, and average associated costs, SPD estimated
that a minimum of $87,000 was spent on EODs. To allow on-duty officers
to answer calls for service, SPD often has to use off-duty personnel
at overtime rates for OEDs. The agency said that it takes a minimum
of 26 personnel hours for one OED.
“We need to ensure that officers can focus on their community
and county calls for service, which are imperative for protecting
local residents,” said Sharp. “In order to do that,
we must allow law enforcement agencies to utilize professional contract
services to get mentally ill individuals to the proper facilities
for evaluation and treatment.”
For more information, contact:
Sen. Sharp: (405) 521-5539