Thursday, September 20, 2012

Portland Police to Improve Crisis-Intervention Response

The Department of Justice has reached a preliminary agreement with the Portland, Ore., Police Bureau (PPB) to improve officers’ response during encounters with people with mental illness. “[W]e find reasonable cause to believe that PPB is engaging in a pattern or practice of using excessive force in encounters involving people with actual or perceived mental illness,” concluded a 42-page report released September 12. The agreement came in the wake of a report that faulted the bureau not only for use of excessive force, but also for inappropriate use of Tasers, inadequate specialized crisis-intervention teams, lack of strategic disengagement protocols involving mental health care providers, and poor supervision of officers in such cases.

The Justice Department acknowledged that the area’s mental health infrastructure “has a number of key deficiencies,” which “often shifts to law enforcement agencies throughout Oregon the burden of being first responders to individuals in mental health crisis.” Portland Police Chief Mike Reese both defended his officers’ actions and agreed to implement reforms, according to the Portland Oregonian.

To read more about how police departments use crisis-intervention teams to respond to incidents with mentally ill people, see Psychiatric News here.

(Image: tusharkoley/