Chief: Mental health issues surfacing

Keri Thornton | Daily Press

Tahlequah Police officers responded to a two-vehicle crash Thursday morning on East Ross Street and the Bertha Parker Bypass. Police Chief Nate King has said he would like to see the number of vehicle crashes decrease.

During his weekly Chief Chat on April 5, Tahlequah Police Department Chief Nate King covered call numbers, bike and foot patrols, and calls pertaining to mental health episodes.

King began his chat discussing the unique week TPD had.

"We were overwhelmed with mental health transports, and in fact, one night we had to call two officers in who were on days off to help transport mental health patients to facilities," said King.

TPD took a missing juvenile report, and King said officers searched for the girl, who returned home 12 hours after being reported missing.

"We also had a few domestic violence calls this week, one of which turned into a barricaded subject. We responded and once officers were in the house, the male subject involved grabbed a knife, stuck it to his throat, and was threatening to commit suicide," said King.

Officers spent 45 minutes negotiating with the man before they deployed their Tasers. Sgt. Bryan Qualls struck the man with the less-lethal weapon and got him transported to a mental health facility.

Officers had a total of 971 calls for the week: 257 traffic stops, 372 building checks, six burglaries, six thefts, five shoplifting calls, and five motor vehicle crashes.

"Another thing and I'm digging into it a little deeper as far as this week goes: The majority of our burglary calls are occurring during the daytime," said King. "They're taking place when you're at work and out of your home. Make sure you lock your house, set your alarm, and neighbors, keep an eye on those close to you."

Officer Chase Reed had the most calls for service, Officer Michael Gray had the most traffic stops, and Officer Jacob Robertson had the most reports for the week. Officer Mitchell Sellers had the highest number of building checks.

Officers will begin bike and foot patrolling more of the downtown corridor this week.

"I've been gone on maternity leave so the scheduling of overtime shifts took a back seat for a few weeks, but starting this Wednesday, [April 7], you'll see officers on the trail and in parks during the daytime hours," said King.

Officers are attending jailer training for the month, and King said everyone at TPD will be certified as jailers.

"We also have a recertification class this week for first aid and CPR that all members of the department will attend, and have updated CPR cards," he said.

King said they are seeing more people prowling throughout the city with the weather becoming warmer during the evening and nighttime.

"Officers will be stopping them when they develop probable cause or reasonable suspicion," he said.

What's next

King will go live on the TPD Facebook page on Monday, April 12 at noon.

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