Portland expands unarmed emergency response program

From the Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — People across Portland, Oregon, looking to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis have a new option: They can call 911 and ask for the Portland Street Response.

The unarmed emergency response program began serving people citywide on Monday, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

“The expansion is an integral part of modernizing our public safety system into a community safety system that works for all,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said on Twitter Monday.

The program, housed within the city’s fire bureau, dispatches a firefighter paramedic, a mental health crisis therapist and two community health workers to calls in which a person is potentially experiencing a mental health crisis or is intoxicated and doesn’t have a visible weapon.

It was designed to provide better outcomes for people and reduce the call load for the city’s public safety bureaus. The program started a Southeast Portland neighborhood a year ago and has been expanding since. Portland Street Response took over 1,000 calls in its first year.