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Oklahoma House Approves Bill Allowing Police To Use Telemedicine For Those In Mental Health Crises

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The Oklahoma State House approved a bill Wednesday that attempts to phase police out of some mental health crisis transports and allow officers to use telemedicine in the field.

House Bill 2877 was requested by police and mental health professionals. The bill says police may use telemedicine to support people struggling with mental illness.

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.

The measure would also require police to provide mental health transports to individuals who need to be assessed by mental health professionals or put into emergency detention, as long as the nearest facility isn’t more than 30 miles away from the officer’s headquarters.

If the nearest available facility is further away the Department of Mental Health would be responsible for transporting the patient. The mental health agency would be allowed to contract with another entity to provide the transport.

Next the bill must be considered by the Senate before it can be sent to the governor.

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Quinton Chandler worked at StateImpact Oklahoma from January 2018 to August 2021, focusing on criminal justice reporting.
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