OCCC Police Officer - Austin L. Staten with the PD iPad.

The Oklahoma City Community College’s Police Department continues to prove they are a valuable resource to protect and serve the faculty, students and administration on campus.

The OCCC PD recently initiated a new outreach program to help students gain more access to the police department or counselors with the aid of iPads located around campus.

The campus police department received iPads in late January of 2022, having been obtained through behavioral mental health services including NorthCare, RedRock, and Hope, according to Staten.

The police department has taken a three-step approach in their journey to implement this program, including having officers attend the prestigious Force Science Institute.

OCCC police officer Austin L. Staten is directing the new project.

“CPD has also partnered with the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma to provide more training, so our officers have the most current and up to date information and training to be able to provide the best service possible,” Staten said.

Most CPD officers are certified through the Crisis Intervention Training Program, which is a community effort that partners police officers and the community together for the common goal of safety, understanding, and service to individuals with mental health issues and their families.

The outreach program consists of 40 hours of classroom work. Four officers are currently going through the training, and once completed, all the CPD officers will receive certification.

“The training program consists of several classes taught by a variety of instructors including a Psychiatrist, a Substance Abuse Specialist, Social Workers, Police Officers, and representatives from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). This training prepares officers to safely de-escalate a crisis, determine the need for emergency treatment and get the person in need to obtain professional treatment as quickly as possible,” Staten said.

When the opportunity presented itself, Staten immediately launched the program, anticipating this would be another way to help the campus community in dealing with mental health emergencies.

Staten hopes that the police department will be able to provide an additional service to the college community by using the iPads, using the mobility and convenience of the devices to help individuals who are in need or are in crisis.

“In some cases, individuals may not want to talk to a police officer, and so by using this resource it allows us to provide another measure of assistance,” he said.

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) has been continually looking for ways to expand services to Law Enforcement to help police officers to better serve their communities, according to Staten.

“Because of the pandemic, the need for services has increased with limiting the mobility of some of those in need. The ODMHSAS has also delivered iPads to other universities across the state, recognizing the need for services in many diverse organizations,” Staten said.

The program can be used for any type of crisis that is reported to the OCCC PD by students, staff, visitors, or any individual interested in speaking to a mental health professional.

“It does not matter if they are in crisis or not, this program allows CPD to provide a convenient way to connect to a mental health professional for any circumstance,” Staten said.

The new outreach program has already been successfully utilized. A person in crisis came to the police department for help, and the officers quickly realized the iPad service could assist the officer in finding help for the individual.

“CPD is proud to partner with ODMHSAS and the providers NorthCare, RedRock, and Hope. We know and have seen the benefit these iPads provide,” Staten said.

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