Excerpts from The Guardian, Thu 29 Apr 2021 11.00 EDT:
Community leaders developed a proposal that would reroute all calls regarding homeless issues to the Compassionate Alternate Response Team (CART), highly trained civilians tasked with de-escalation and conflict resolution through each situation.
Proponents of CART estimate that the team would cost San Francisco $6.8m a year. The Board of Supervisors has already approved $2m. The other $4.8m would come from the police department’s budget.
Write city council members and the Portland Police Association (PPA) demanding that PPA cede any claims on Portland Street Response labor. This is not police work.
We need to make these demands because the pilot program for Portland Street Response only launched after the police union allowed it, declaring last year that it “retains its collective bargaining rights over any implementation of the Portland Street Response program beyond the pilot program.”
Send letters or make calls to make these demands clear. Please let both PPA and City Council know that our community overwhelmingly supports the Portland Street Response approach, and that our community’s well-being should never be a bargaining chip. Now the PPA is in contract negotiations, the city must hold firm to its authority over the future of PSR.
Additionally, Portland Street Response must not be used as another bargaining chip for PPA. Unite Oregon is helping lead a campaign to ensure other items favored by the community, such as the new system for oversight that voters approved, are not negotiated away. Read about it here.
Street Roots commissioned a survey with McKelvey Consulting to assess the public perceptions around crises response in the Portland metro area. More than 400 random registered Portland voters consented to the survey via a text-enabled phone number. The survey was conducted March 9 and 10, with a 67% response rate. Of the respondents, more than 10% identified as a person of color. Respondents were asked a series of questions on their preferences between police and non-police responses, and who were best equipped to respond to situations of crisis.
Here are some questions and responses, which show an overwhelming support for programs like Portland Street Response:
The city launched the Portland Street Response program on February 16. It is in a pilot phase, limited to the Lents neighborhood. We want to see the pilot completed, and the program expanded.
The city’s Portland Street Response program is finally real! They have staff, staff is going through training, pilot coverage area and times have been named, and there is a timeline for the next phases! There is even an official City website for the program — click on the button in our banner to visit them and find out more.
Thank you to all who have supported Street Roots’ advocacy — you all helped us get this far. We have received endorsements from:
11 current or former elected officials, from city to local to state level;
13 faith communities;
27 businesses; and
Going forward, we will maintain this website to continue advocating for the City to see this program through as well as possible.
Here are excerpts from Kaia Sand’s editorial in this week’s edition of Street Roots:
Mayor Ted Wheeler is protecting the police budget while cutting a portion of the Portland Street Response budget.
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly has already said she’s voting for Hardesty’s proposal to trim PPB further. It’s time to put pressure on Wheeler, Commissioner Dan Ryan and Commissioner Amanda Fritz to support the change as well, in the interest of public safety.
Senator Ron Wyden has proposed a national alternative to using police as first responders to mental health crises. The CAHOOTS Act is modeled after Eugene’s eponymous program, operated by the White Bird Clinic. CAHOOTS is also the inspiration for Portland Street Response. The nation-wide program would provide 95% Medicaid match for local municipalities that implement such a program.
OREGONLIVE.com / The Oregonian reports that
Cahoots fields about 20% of all calls to 911 and the non-emergency line in the greater Eugene area.
In 2018, of the 22,000 calls that Cahoots responded to, less than 150 led to Cahoots requesting police for backup.
Program leaders estimate it saves $7 million annually in medical costs because the so many of the people the non-police teams help would otherwise end up in emergency rooms.
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer held a virtual town hall meeting with special guests U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty this afternoon at 4 p.m. In a wide-ranging and lively conversation, many subjects were discussed, including the current protests against police violence and systemic racism. Listen to Commissioner Hardesty discussing Portland Street Response in the context of police reforms and reimagining public safety in the following Youtube video starting at 35:32.
In our streets and across the nation, people are demanding that cities dismantle unjust police power. Here in Portland, timing is on our side to demand bold action because city council is set to vote on the proposed city budget this Wednesday (June 10th).
A few weeks ago, it was likely that we’d see the $246.2 million police budget roll forward. But thanks to courageous demonstrators, the conversation has shifted.
We need you to take action and tell Mayor Wheeler and Commissioners Eudaly, Fritz and Hardesty that we need the budget to support a just vision of public safety.
Today, tomorrow and Tuesday, please ask them to fund Portland Street Response to move us away from police-based solutions.
As is, city council is set to roll forward the one-time funding for a single pilot. But now is the time in which we demand that the city designate ongoing funds so multiple pilots can simultaneously run across the city – not just in one neighborhood – transforming into a city-wide program. We need to speed this up.
Subject: Please increase funding for Portland Street Response
Please increase funding for Portland Street Response in the proposed budget that will be voted on this Wednesday, June 10th. In our streets and across the nation, people are demanding that cities support a just vision of public safety. PSR is a great first step to move us away from police-based solutions. Please designate 4.8 million dollars in on-going funds so multiple PSR pilots can simultaneously run across the city – not just in one neighborhood. We need to speed this up.
I am so happy to share with all of you that a pilot version of the Portland Street Response was approved by Portland city council this afternoon! From the moment Street Roots presented the plan in our March 15 issue, we’ve been committed to seeing this happen. Street Roots vendors have been involved the entire campaign: speaking at a budget forum, surveying other unhoused people, and even judging the Portland Street Response logo contest.
Today was a very big day. After more than a century, Portland is making a significant change to our first responder system. Portland Street Response is proposed as a third branch of our city’s first responder system, joining fire and police.
The pilot team will be composed of a medic and a crisis worker, dispatched by 911 in the Lents Neighborhood beginning this spring, and over the course of about the year, the city can refine the plan.
Thank you, everyone, for endorsing (there’s still time to add your name; we’ll soon be gearing up to campaign for the full-fledged Portland Street Response program to be implemented, big enough, and nimble enough, to really help unhoused people in crisis).
And if you would like to contribute to our ongoing efforts, that bolsters our ongoing advocacy to better the lives of people who are unhoused, such as our work on the Portland Street Response.
Today we celebrate. Tomorrow, onward we go … together!