ENID, Okla. — Seeking a solution
O’Rourke and Niles said their departments will continue to do what is asked of them, as far as EODs are concerned; however a change is needed to make department’s whole.
“There needs to be a change in the statutes,” O’Rourke said. “These transports are taxing to the officers and deputies and municipal police and county budgets as they are unexpected and numerous.
“These events are not something you can budget for.”
O’Rourke cited the distances officers were traveling across the state to take individuals to approved sites.
“It is ridiculous that we transport to Muskogee and other areas remote from Enid, and just receive mileage back from the state,” he said. “We have had officers from Enid pass each other on the turnpikes coming and going from mental health facilities on transports.
“I know that we will do what is required by statute, at great cost to us, and hope the state Legislature will address this soon.”
Niles also said legislative intervention in the issue also could help save Oklahomans money.
“Jails and prisons in Oklahoma are the biggest housers of mentally ill persons,” Niles said. “The state Legislature needs to fund the mental health issue and provide long-term care, if necessary.
“The county jails and prisons are a more costly means of dealing with the mentally ill.”
Rep. John Enns, R-Enid, said there has been talk before of getting law enforcement reimbursed for EODs, but there are problems getting the idea support.
“We’ve tried to address that before, and from what I remember, we can’t get much traction on it,” Enns said.
He said he would support legislation that would help law enforcement agencies defray the costs of transports.
“The Department of Corrections and public safety, that is all core service and I think it ought to be funded properly, because it is trying to keep everybody safe,” Enns said.
Rep. Mike Jackson, also R-Enid, said finding funding always has been difficult with so many state entities and agencies seeking money.
A call to ODMHSAS media relations Friday for comment on this story was not returned.