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Lawton Officer looking to build up mental health awareness team

Published: May. 17, 2021 at 6:20 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - A Lawton Police Officer is wanting other officers to become apart of the departments Crisis Intervention Team.

Sergeant Colin Book says in the department, only 11 out of about 150 officers are on the Crisis Intervention Team.

Book said last month the department went out to a total of 64 mental health calls.

“It’s almost two a day, about half of those were suicide attempts or suicide threats, and we had two successful suicides,” Book said.

Book said that’s a super high call volume for Lawton’s population size, and that’s why more officers are needed.

“It’s supposed to educate officers on more diverse approaches with the mentally ill, and how to handle things. The emphasis is on communication and being aware of the crisis the person is going through whenever police is called,” Book said.

For example, an untrained officer may not know a person with autism doesn’t like to be touched in certain situations but a trained officer would.

“The second step would be connecting with the community at large. Mental health is not a law enforcement issues. We come there strictly for scene safety, and because people don’t know who else to call, and when they call, they call us, and we come out there, and help,” Book said.

He said it’s a joint effort between the department, families, and mental health facilities.

“Because of that shared burden we need to connect with these people, and having this community safety net that we can give these people. So, that they can have someone or have a plan, and have someone to help them on their worst days,” Book said.

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