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Criminal Justice

New Law Allows Oklahoma Police To Use Professionals, Telemedicine In Mental Health Crises

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law Monday that will take some responsibility for mental health crisis transports away from police.

House Bill 2877 also allows officers to use telemedicine in the field.

The legislation is one part of a larger strategy to change how emergency mental health calls are treated in Oklahoma.

The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services recently gave police agencies around the state hundreds of tablets that officers can use to connect residents with therapists during police calls.

But sometimes people in crisis will still need to be taken to mental health professionals so they can be examined or put into emergency detention.

The legislation says police will handle transports as long as the nearest facility isn’t more than 30 miles away from the officer’s headquarters.

If the nearest facility is further away the Department of Mental Health would be responsible for transporting the patient or hiring another party to do it.

Police have been required to conduct these transports for years but many have insisted they are not well suited for the work.

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