OKLAHOMA COUNTY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is going above and beyond to train the entire department on crisis intervention training so deputies can tell the difference between a mental health crisis and a criminal. One lieutenant is going out of his way to make sure area residents who have mental health are safe.  

This comes after a nationwide effort to train officers and deputies on how to confront a mental health crisis situation. KFOR went on a ride along with a lieutenant at the Sheriff’s Office to see what’s being done.

“That’s always my favorite part of CIT, is the hearing the voices and the roleplaying and seeing that in action,” said Lt. Gene Bradley, mental health coordinator for the Sheriff’s Office. 

CIT stands for Crisis Intervention Training, which is a 40-hour class with intensive and interactive scenarios relating to mental health crisis situations.  

“It’s based off the Memphis model, and it’s just to educate individuals, law enforcement, specifically to mental health, mental health crisis and what you might be observing when you’re on the scene of a mental health crisis,” said Bradley.  

Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office ride along
Lt. Gene Bradley on the job. Image KFOR

Bradley has a passion and background in mental health work. Weekly, he visits residents throughout the area who have mental health issues, to check on them, make sure they’re taking their medication, provides transportation to health appointments and much more.  

“In some cases they’re self-medicating and in other cases they’re not medicating at all. And that itself is creating that crisis; some of it’s basic needs, some things that we take for granted. I assess what that need is to get them to where the crisis is eliminated. And then I provide that in a case management kind of type faction. I provide them those services or get them connected to those services in the community,” said Bradley.

Last year, Shelly King utilized the 9-1-1 service frequently, averaging 50-100 9-1-1 calls a month. 

“They were absorbing a lot of law enforcement resources. Her main thing was one being lonely, but she had no way of providing basic needs for herself,” said Bradley.

Since Bradley started coming around, she’s only made one 9-1-1 call within the last year. 

“I love his company because I don’t have company… I get lost, and he goes in and finds me every darn time,” said Shelly King, Oklahoma County resident.  

For another person, he feels safe just hearing Bradley sound sirens in front of his home.  

“Most of my referrals come from other officers in the agency and some of the other local agencies in Oklahoma County, when they’ve gone out on numerous 9-1-1 calls for a mental health crisis,” said Bradley.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff plans to have the majority of deputies and officers trained in the CIT program within the next year.