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Report Shows OCPD Officers Are Responding To Fewer Mental Health Calls

Report Shows OCPD Officers Are Responding To Fewer Mental Health Calls

Oklahoma City Police say in a new report that the number of mental health calls their officers are dealing with is declining, but they say it will likely never be zero.

“Oklahoma City is very innovative in what we’re doing,” OCPD Chief Wade Gourley said.

The new report shows a 27% drop in the times police were dispatched to mental health calls between October 2023 and May 2024, with nearly 500 calls being transferred to mental health professionals in the first five months of the year.

“I credit a lot of that to 988 and the fact that people now have an alternative and even if they are calling 911, if we’re able to transfer that call or hand that off to 988, I think that’s a big contributing factor,” Gourley said.

The report also found in 2023, out of 18,614 mental health-related calls received, less than one percent resulted in someone being arrested.

Chief Gourley said in the past, some state laws and a lack of funding have held up mental health efforts.

“For example, police officers were the only one that could transport a mental health consumer to facility, and it was that way up until, I believe 2022, when the law finally changed to get us out of that business fully,” Gourley said.

With the approval of a new city budget, the Oklahoma City Fire Department is set to bring online a new 20 member Crisis Response team staffed by paramedics and behavioral health professionals.

“It’s all of us are coming together to try and limit the amount of times that police respond to mental health calls,” Gourley said.

The city is also beginning to place mental health professionals in 911 call centers. Gourley said while the city is on the right path, there will always be cases that require police intervention.

“Law-enforcement is always going to have a role there, especially in an instant where the individual is violent or armed,” Gourley said.

The City has also allocated $44 million to establish a dedicated restoration and crisis center using MAPS4 sales tax dollars.

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