Congresswoman Cori Bush introduces People’s Response Act to Transform Public Safety

U.S. Representative Cori Bush (D-MO) was joined by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) in introducing  the People’s Response Act

“Public safety is a public health issue. It’s time our approach reflects that,” said Rep. Cori Bush. “The People’s Response Act will transform public safety into a system of care rather than criminalization, healing rather than incarceration, and prevention rather than policing. We are safer when our communities are well funded, our people are healthy and housed, and our children have nutritious meals, excellent schools, and green spaces to play in.”

H.R. 4194 is co-sponsored by 20 Congress members so far, including Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR). It is endorsed by over 70 organizations, including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Sunrise Movement, and others.

This is the 2nd piece of national legislation that would mandate using non-police first responders for mental health crises. Senator Wyden (D-OR) introduced the CAHOOTS Act last year. S. 4441 is co-sponsored by Sen. Merkley (D-OR) and 2 others.

Survey of Portland voters shows stunning support for non-police first responders to street crises

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:

87% think non-police 1st responders are better trained to deal with street crises
86.4% think non-police 1st responders are better trained to deal with a wellness check
80.4% do NOT think Portland Police are the best equipped to deal with people having a mental health crisis
61.1% do NOT think Portland Police have a positive impact on homelessness in their neighborhood

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.