OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Department of Justice announced that it has opened an investigation into the State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, and the Oklahoma City Police Department.
Officials say the investigation will look into “whether Oklahoma fails to provide community-based mental health services to people in Oklahoma County,” a release from the agency read.
“Community-based mental health services, which are proven effective in transforming people’s lives, are critical to preventing a cycle of unnecessary institutionalization and avoidable contacts with law enforcement,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to ensuring appropriate responses to behavioral health crises and protecting the civil rights of people with mental health disabilities.”
Investigators will also see if those actions led to people being unnecessarily admitted to psychiatric facilities or having contact with police officers.
The department says it will examine Oklahoma City’s systems for responding to people experiencing behavioral health crises, including through the 911 call center and the police department.
As part of the investigation, officials will reach out to community groups and members of the public to learn about their experiences with mental health services, and the police department’s response to mental health crises.
“This investigation is being conducted pursuant to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits disability discrimination by state and local governments. The investigation is also being conducted pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which prohibits state and local governments from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights protected by the Constitution or federal law,” the release read.
The Oklahoma City Police Department said they have not been provided specific information about the investigation.
“We intend to cooperate with the USDOJ and look forward to working with them toward the goal of providing the safest and most effective ways of responding to these types of calls,” Oklahoma City Police Chief Wade Gourley said.