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Mental Health Professionals For Mental Health Emergencies

Sending police to deal with someone in the midst of a mental health crisis makes even less sense than sending the fire department to get a cat out of a tree.

If we're going to put a stop to racist policing in the United States, we need to stop sending police to handle problems they're not trained to solve. We need a different model for public safety.

And a big part of the answer originated here in Eugene.

For the last three decades, the city of Eugene has partnered with White Bird Clinic and the CAHOOTS program to provide mental health first response for crises involving mental illness, homelessness, and addiction.

CAHOOTS teams – a medic and a behavioral health worker – are dispatched by police departments to deal with a wide range of mental health-related crises, including conflict resolution, welfare checks, substance abuse, suicide threats, and more, relying on trauma-informed de-escalation and harm reduction techniques.

The results are indisputable. CAHOOTS saves the city of Eugene alone more than $8 million per year. Last year, CAHOOTS responded to nearly one in five 911 calls in the city. Out of the 24,000 calls CAHOOTS responded to, they requested police backup 1% of the time.

That's 24,000 calls that didn't require police attention. 24,000 times folks got the help they needed without a high-stakes police confrontation.

It's time to take the program nationwide. That's why, last week I introduced the CAHOOTS Act, a companion to Sen. Wyden's bill, to support states in creating their own CAHOOTS-style programs to respond to crises. This bill prioritizes trauma-informed care through community based mental health resources, that would aim to reduce violence in health crisis responses. It would additionally provide states with $25 million in planning grants to help establish or build out mobile crisis programs.

I'm proud that, once again, Oregon's Fourth Congressional District is providing key leadership for the country, and I'll be thrilled to see the CAHOOTS model catch on nationwide.


Posted on August 24, 2020.

As Independent as Oregon.

Peter DeFazio's common-sense proposals aim to create good-paying jobs, expand access to affordable health care and develop options outside of the for-profit marketplace, restore economic and educational opportunities, hold government accountable and tip the scales of inequality back in favor of hard-working Oregonians.

Meet Peter