I reported to Council in August about the Safer PDX project, which is sponsored by a grant from the Bazelon Law Institute. It is a collaborative partnership between the City of Portland (my office, Police and the Bureau of Emergency Communications), Multnomah County, Casadia Behavioral Health, and multiple other entities including advocates and peers of people experiencing mental illness, the Citizens Crime Commission (partner of the Portland Business Alliance), Providence and Portland Adventist hospitals, OHSU's Psychiatry residency program, PSU's graduate programs, and many more. Read the summary here.
Under the leadership of Dr. Maggie Bennington-Davis and Dr. Bill Nunley at Cascadia Behavioral Health, we are half way through a three year workplan systematically examining and improving the system of response to people experiencing mental health crises in Portland. The Safer PDX Steering Committee, on which I serve as the Council's leader on this crucial matter, also plans to determine how to use existing resources more effectively, to provide professional mental health care services for people needing them rather than relying on police to be first responsers in mental health behavioral crises.
Maxine Bernstein, often a critic of both Portland Police officers and mental health care professionals, wrote this article published in the Sunday Oregonian about positive outcomes and changes in Portland Police Bureau procedures and protocols resulting from the discussions in the Safer PDX project about appropriate treatment of people with mental illensses. I am excited about the tangible results already being produced from the evidence-based approach and expert advice gained by multiple partners collaborating on the Safer PDX project.