Oklahoma City, OK (CNN) — Oklahoma City’s mayor says he’s going to try to get the city’s police department to pay more for mental health services, as city officials grapple with a surge in mental illness and suicide.
Oklahoma City Mayor Byron Wade says the city is looking at “every possible option” to address the problem.
Wade says he was briefed Wednesday by Chief of Police Mark White that the city has the resources to help its police department reduce the number of officers on the streets who are not trained to deal with mental illness.
Wades said he also has asked the city manager to conduct a review of the city�s suicide rate and look at the effectiveness of the mayor�s mental health initiative.
“I�ve got a lot of concerns that we need to get to the bottom of, because that�s not a problem that we�re getting better at solving,” Wade said.
“That�s a problem with the population.”
Oklahoma Mayor Byron “Bunny” Wade says he has a lot more questions about mental health than he did two years ago.The city�re already spending $1 million to equip its police force with mental health training and to install video cameras.
But that has not stopped the city from increasing the number and type of officers it employs and has hired more than 700 additional officers to deal more seriously with mental issues.
More than 100 police officers are now assigned to the citywide crisis intervention program, including about 200 on overtime, Wade said Wednesday.
The mayor also wants the city to set aside money for community outreach and to develop an annual program to support police in dealing with mental disorders.
Wace says he also is looking into a federal grant program to expand mental health care to more Oklahoma City residents.
He says he would consider funding the expansion of such a program with federal dollars.
Wake said the city needs to work with the state to improve mental health treatment, and that he wants the federal government to pay for the state�s efforts to get mental health funding.