Mental health advisors will soon be assisting some Oklahoma officials with certain calls
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Mental health professionals will soon be joining police officers in Oklahoma and Logan counties as they respond to certain calls.
“It has worked in other states, and we’re excited to start here,” said Beth Combs of NorthCare Behavioral and Social Services to KFOR.
Combs talks about a brand new collaboration between NorthCare and law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma and Logan counties.
“They will call us when they investigate the situation and find out that we need to go in that direction and we will,” said Combs.
The program is called Champions. It consists of a team of 25 consultants, specialists who are trained to help with mental crises. You will join officers on certain calls.
âIt could be anything from the officers finding a family living in their car and possibly needing some funding for housing. It can be a family that has suffered a lot of trauma and needs help for their children. There can be an adult homeless or an adult who just needs mental health services and they refer them to us, âsaid Combs.
She said the goal is to keep people in situations like those out of prison.
However, the program receives some criticism.
Josh Higginbotham, who serves on OKC’s Law Enforcement Policy Task Force, has pushed for a similar program that a parishioner calls with the counselors without the police.
âIn the end, social workers become a bit more like a police force than the other way around. And it’s still the same burden on the police as it was before. But now they just have some kind of awkward circumstance to deal with, which is one of the reasons we wanted something that was more community based and a non-police response, âHigginbotham said.
He told News 4 that such a program would continue to be possible in the future. He presented the idea and data from other US cities with similar programs to the task force.
NorthCare will start their program in late January.
“It’s just important that we all come together as a community and help each other with our different strengths and talents,” said Combs.
NorthCare hopes to add 25 therapists to its team. For more information, visit NordCare.
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