PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – The city of Portland is getting closer to launching a pilot program aimed at better addressing 911 calls dealing with mental health crisis or issues around homelessness. The program is known as the Portland Street Response Team and will begin in January 2021.
Portland Fire and Rescue is spearheading the new idea and is looking to hire for two positions on the team, a community health worker and a mental health crisis clinician.
“We really need to find a program and a system to send the right responder to the right response,” Robyn Burek with Portland Fire and Rescue said.
The team will be focused in the Lents neighborhood.
“When we look at the call volume across the city, we see that is that it is growing across the city, the Lents area is actually outpacing the rest of the city in terms of call growth,” Burek said.
Initially the program was set to be one team of three in the pilot program, but in June the Portland City Council reallocated nearly $5 million to the program. The addition money is something PF&R says will allow them to bring in a second team.
The plan is to have one team start in January, the second will follow six months later.
“We should be and recruiting in November, start training in December and then we will be ready to launch in January,” Burek said.
After the pilot program ends in a year, the department will take a look at how things went, what worked and what didn’t work.
“Once 2022 hits then we will begin to phase in more teams, we don’t have a number of what to expect yet that is what part of the pilot will help us determine but we are excited,” Burek said.
Success for the program will be measured in three areas, the number of calls they are able to reduce where a person does not have an interaction with police where no crime was committed. Did the team reduce the number of calls that would typically end up in the emergency department unnecessarily. The third is reducing the response of police and fire to true non-emergency calls.
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