Report says PPB's mental health response improving; critics say - KPTV - FOX 12

Report says PPB's mental health response improving; critics say more needs to be done

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Critics have said recently that more needs to be done to help the mentally ill in Portland after officers shot and killed a man at a homeless shelter following a crime spree. But, one group says Portland police have made big improvements in the past few years.

Portland's Compliance Officer and Community Liaison hosted a town hall Wednesday night to discuss its findings about the city's progress when it comes to mental health.

The report comes after the Department of Justice ruled in 2012 that the police bureau violated the U.S. Constitution by using excessive force against people with mental illness.

According to the report, the COCL "believes that the City and PPB have accomplished all that can reasonably be expected of them, given their role in community-based mental health services."

FOX 12 spoke with one woman attending the meeting who used to work in the behavioral health field.

"Police are not really trained to be mental health professionals. They haven't said they were. They haven't wanted to be. Because they're an emergency service, they get called out first," said Julie Ramos. "So I think they're on the right track of educating themselves and getting officers trained, but I still think we need to be pushing the mental health system itself to do outreach, community services to really help people who are in need."

On most minds at the meeting was the confrontation at Cityteam Portland Shelter earlier this month, where officers shot and killed carjacking suspect John Elifritz.

Critics say the use of deadly force was unnecessary, and that Elifritz was troubled.

On Tuesday night, a crowd supporting the "Care Not Cops Campaign" called for increasing mental health funding at a rally outside the city's budget forum.

PPB is calling for $13 million more next year for what it calls a dangerous shortage of officers.

However, critics want that money to go to mental health funding instead.

In its overall report card, COCL evaluated 28 goals from crisis intervention to training. It found the city satisfied all of the requirements.

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