Cops Insist On Bringing Guns into Portland’s New Mental Health Hospital

Portland Mercury, May 24, 2017
Some See That As Cause for Concern in a City That’s Seen Past Tragedy

On a walljust past two locked doors at Portland’s new facility for people in acute mental health crisis, a small silver sign sits above three beige lockboxes.

It’s easy to miss, but a top administrator at the Unity Center for Behavioral Health says the placard conveys a valuable concept. “We do not allow weapons at Unity,” it reads. “Law enforcement, please store your weapons in these lockers before entering patient care areas. Thank you for helping keep our patients, staff and visitors safe.”

The message reflects a longstanding practice in Portland of hospitals asking cops to stow their guns before entering a psychiatric ward. And it’s especially resonant in a city still grappling with the federal government’s 2012 conclusion that police have a pattern of using excessive force on people with perceived mental illness.

But those Unity Center lockers are doing little more than collecting dust.

That became clear in mid-April—more than two months after the center opened—when Unity’s vice president, Dr. Christiane Farentinos, sent an email to employees with a subject line punctuated by the word “IMPORTANT.”

At an April 10 meeting with Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officials, Farentinos learned that cops arriving at the hospital for any reason “will arrive armed and will not relinquish their weapons,” she wrote. “This is non-negotiable.”

Because of that policy, Farentinos wrote, staff should be “judicious” when calling 911.

PPB spokesperson Sergeant Pete Simpson confirms the bureau’s stance.

“When a police officer shows up, they’re going in full uniform with all the required equipment,” Simpson says. “Police officers are not going to lock up their weapons to go in there without knowing there are the proper security measures on the other side.”

Simpson says that’s in line with bureau policy, but the absolute nature of this “non-negotiable” position appears to depart from past practice, in which officers have conceded to stowing their weapons before entering a locked ward.

“If you ask any hospital, there is a ‘depends on the person that comes’ kind of thing,” Farentinos told the Mercury in a recent interview. “Some law enforcement officers will say, ‘Okay.’ Others will say, ‘No, I can’t do it.’”

Farentinos shied away from talking about how forcefully she pressed police to agree to ditching their guns, but the practice she described is the status quo at Providence Health, which now operates the only psychiatric beds in the city that aren’t at Unity.

“We can request that officers check their weapons; they are not required to do so,” says Providence spokesperson Gary Walker. “We do have secure storage available.”

At the Oregon State Hospital, the large state-run mental health facility in Salem, policy [PDF] requires officers to stow both guns and pepper spray, according to spokesperson Jonathan Modie.

The rationale for asking police to ditch their weapons is clear. Patients admitted to psychiatric wards are in severe crisis and need medical attention. Some of those people might react poorly to the presence of police officers, advocates say.

“Individuals are experiencing extreme mental states,” Farentinos says. “Their limbs are out of control, their behavior is out of control, so why introduce one more risk into the environment?”

Portland saw the fallout from introducing such a risk in 2001, when police shot and killed a distraught patient named Jose Santos Victor Mejia Poot at a now-defunct psychiatric hospital in Sellwood.

Mejia, a Mexico native who did not speak much English, had been arrested two days before, after he came up 20 cents short for bus fare and struggled to communicate with the TriMet driver and responding officers (who beat him in front of passengers). He was eventually taken to the BHC-Pacific Gateway Hospital, where he was able to escape his room, and began menacing staff with a metal rod taken from a door’s exit bar.

Responding cops shot 29-year-old Mejia in the head and chest when pepper spray and beanbag rounds didn’t work.

The case became a rallying cry for a more compassionate police response to people experiencing mental health crises (the man’s family argued at the time that Mejia might have actually been having a seizure). It also helped lead the PPB to arm officers with Tasers, which the US Department of Justice found Portland police have since used excessively on people with perceived mental illness.

The Mejia shooting is still on the minds of local advocates, some of whom point to it as a case in point for why guns shouldn’t be carried into psychiatric wards like Unity.

“The fact that [police] refuse to put their guns down before they go in is outrageous,” says Dan Handelman, of Portland Copwatch. “That’s why Jose Mejia Poot is dead.”

Unity is a very different place than the closed, deficient Pacific Gateway facility. It employs an emergency model designed specifically to aid people in psychiatric crisis, and has 102 inpatient beds for the most severe cases.

Partly because cops won’t use Unity’s gun lockers, Farentinos is working with the bureau on an alternative plan, and she’s effusive about the PPB’s help. When police do respond to Unity—as they have more than 50 times this year—Farentinos has instructed staff to arrange for officers to meet with patients outside of the psychiatric ward, but still within the secure area separate from the general public.

“We will have to either arrange for a room outside of the unit or delay the interaction if the patient is in no clinical conditions [sic] to talk,” Farentinos wrote in her April 13 staff email.

That’s possible when officers need to speak with patients in the course of an investigation. It’s not practical when the nature of the call is more urgent.

According to records from the PPB, such urgent calls have occurred regularly at Unity. From January 1 to April 27, officers were dispatched to the center 51 times. (Unity opened on January 31; the parcel police analyzed included the Legacy Research Institute next to the center.)

The bureau characterizes 13 of those calls as a response to an “immediate” threat to safety, meaning a situation that was still playing out. Another 16 calls were because of “cold” threats to safety that were less pressing.

The most frequent type of call to the center was for what the bureau classified as “nonviolent/civil” incidents, which Simpson says encompass “calls related to property crime, medical, detail, administrative, civil issues, etc.” Police responded to 18 of those calls through April 27.

Farentinos wouldn’t offer specifics on police responses to Unity other than to say that many of the center’s 911 calls were for incidents that occurred in Unity’s parking lot, or for medical emergencies where patients needed to be escorted by police to another hospital.

“We have called many times because of that,” she said of the medical calls.

It’s unclear from the PPB data how many calls came from parking lot issues and how many led to cops entering the secure psychiatric unit with their weapons. Simpson says a crime analyst’s quick perusal of the specifics showed just three were for medical assistance.

According to Portland police directives, any emergency response to a secure facility like Unity must include at least four officers and one sergeant. Cops are required to notify their supervisor before entering the facility. Lower-priority calls get a more relaxed response.

Everyone, police included, agrees that keeping officers away from Unity as much as possible is ideal.

“If you go on the theory that this is a psychiatric hospital… calling the police really should be a last resort,” says Simpson. “If the person is in crisis, and you’re calling for us to deal with a person in crisis, it seems counterintuitive.”

Advocates, too, stress that calls to police should be kept to a minimum.

“Uniformed police appearing on any inpatient unit—firearms or no firearms—can be intimidating to patients and counterproductive to the quality delivery of mental health care,” says Chris B. Bouneff, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Oregon. “If a hospital is managing its milieu well and has enough quality staff and quality training, the need to summon police should be very minimal.”

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Crisis Averted?

Portland Mercury, May 10, 2017

A Brand New Mental Health Center Aims to Revolutionize Care in Portland. It Faces Dizzying Challenges.

Wanda knows she’s being poisoned.

The nurses come to her room and tell her to breathe from a tube, and Wanda can see glass particles entering her lungs.

So she refuses to inhale. Sometimes her doctor, whom Wanda trusts, convinces her to relent and breathe the stuff in. Other times she stays strong.

Roughly six times in the last six months, Wanda has stayed strong. Each time, her lungs began to fill with fluid—an effect of the congestive heart failure she suffers from. Each time, she has had to be restrained, intubated, and cared for at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, causing her immense psychiatric trauma. The last time this happened, Wanda nearly died.

On a late April morning, as an array of mental health workers, attorneys, and court officials meet to talk about her in a tidy room at Portland’s brand-new Unity Center for Behavioral Health, Wanda has refused to breathe the glass poison for days. Another trip to Emanuel may be necessary, but that’s not the reason for the day’s hearing.

Instead, the group has gathered to determine whether Wanda, who’s in her 60s, should remain in state custody.

For much of the last six months, she has been one of a rising percentage of patients in Multnomah County committed against their will to the care of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), which believes the paranoid schizophrenia Wanda suffers from puts her at dire risk.

Today, her first stay is nearly up, and the state is deciding whether Wanda should be recommitted for another 180 days—the maximum length for a single commitment.

“I don’t believe she would voluntarily take her medicine,” says Wanda’s psychiatrist, Dr. James Russell, who explains the woman’s notions that her medication—delivered as a mist—is killing her. Two mental health experts briefly interview Wanda to get a sense of her grasp on reality. A county prosecutor says Wanda needs to stay in the state’s hands; a public defender half-heartedly argues she should be freed.

For Portland, the decision a county judge will make at the end of the hearing will help decide whether the city’s overtaxed mental health system works as hoped.

More and more, county officials say, the system set up to cater to the city’s most pressing mental health crises is devoting much of its time to serving people like Wanda—patients with severe illness who aren’t currently able to care for themselves or could pose a danger to others.

The reasons are varied, and not entirely clear, but the difficulties are apparent. Just as the innovative Unity Center is working to improve the way Portland addresses the crises of a rapidly expanding population, the influx of serious cases ties up precious resources.

“They need long-term care,” says Dr. Y. Pritham Raj, a Unity board member and chair of the Department of Behavioral Health at Adventist Health. “That’s not what Unity was designed to be.”

Bill Osborne looks at the whiteboard hanging in his office and can’t help but think something’s changed.

As the supervisor of Multnomah County’s Commitment Services program, Osborne oversees a staff responsible for deciding whether to pursue civil commitments for thousands of patients they encounter each year.

When they do ask for a commitment hearing, it goes on Osborne’s board. And lately, the board has been routinely full.

“Tomorrow I have three,” Osborne said in a conversation last month, noting that his investigators are seeing more severe cases lately. “I wish I could tell you why that was happening,”

The data Osborne points to is limited but, to his thinking, worrisome. It shows that in January and February of this year, county investigators have been seeking to commit patients at roughly twice the typical rate—an increase he says isn’t tied to any policy change.

Civil commitment to state custody is designed to be a last resort, necessary when a person with mental illness is a danger to themselves or others, or incapable of providing for their own basic needs. And because commitment involves stripping a person of their civil liberties, the process is complicated.

“The bar in Oregon to get someone civilly committed is very high,” Osborne says. “We are seeing people who are more acutely ill, and who are meeting that bar.”

Often, the machinery of civil commitment kicks into gear when local cops or qualified social service workers get a call about someone in crisis. If the situation is severe enough, those officials will bring that person to a local hospital, where a doctor can make the decision to hold them for up to five business days by issuing a “notice of mental illness.” It’s at that point that Osborne’s investigators come on the case.

In recent years, the staff has investigated between 3,500 and 4,400 people. And in each of the past five years, the county has recommended between 6 and 7.5 percent of those people be civilly committed (the overwhelming majority ultimately are), according to county records.

But this year, that ratio has shot up. According to county data, more than 15 percent of the people investigated in January and February faced a commitment hearing.

“Seeing that kind of spike in civil commitments is concerning,” Osborne says. “It’s something we’re not used to.”

He’s the first to admit the numbers could be a blip—the mental health system ebbs and flows, after all—but there’s something Osborne also feels compelled to point out.

“These are not the same people we’ve seen again and again,” he says. “We’re seeing a lot of people from out of town.”

He’s got a theory on why that might be.

Before we look at Osborne’s out-of-towner observation, though, consider why an increase in commitments matters.

Until this year, when people in Portland were in the midst of a serious mental health crisis, they had little choice but to wind up in the emergency department at one local hospital or another—the same ERs that house people with other pressing emergencies.

“It’s not a peaceful, calming, reassuring environment,” says Dr. George Keepers, a board member for the Unity Center and chair of the psychiatry department at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). “It is not a good place for psychiatric patients to stay.”

Prior to late January, those patients might be stabilized and sent home. Or they might be admitted to wards designed specifically to help people grappling with acute psychiatric problems (a persistent criticism of mental health advocates is that our system doesn’t have enough resources in between those two options). Often hospital beds were full, meaning patients would need to wait in the chaos of the ER for one to open.

The Unity Center—which opened on January 31, just across I-5 from the Moda Center—was envisioned as an upgrade. First announced in early 2015, the center was developed as a partnership between four major health care providers: OHSU, Legacy Health, Adventist Health, and Kaiser Permanente.

The hospital systems pooled funding and transferred their local psychiatric beds to Unity, culminating in 102 inpatient beds (80 for adults, 22 for children), which is actually a net loss of 10.

Even so, officials believed the facility could offer significantly better outcomes for one central reason: At Unity, patients enter an emergency ward purpose-built for people in mental health crisis.

“Now they have someone immediately talking about care, talking about medications,” says Amber Shoebridge, a spokesperson, who described the facility’s emergency wing as “roomy” and “light,” but declined to give the Mercury a tour. Prior to Unity, she says, the process was more “you stick me in a room and isolate me, and I don’t get help for however long. Anxiety goes up.”

And while this new model is winning over mental health providers who believe it’s a better option for patients, the center is still finding its feet.

Hospital officials envisioned that 75 percent of people who walked through the door would require emergency attention of 24 hours or less. The remaining patients would be stabilized in the center’s inpatient beds for no more than eight days, and then released with a treatment plan.

On average, that’s not happening—and one big reason is patients like Wanda. According to officials, 40 percent of the adult beds at Unity are currently taken up by civil commitments.

It’s not uncommon for committed patients to stay at the center for a month or more. And while they’re people absolutely in need of the type of care Unity provides, any increase can constrain the system’s limited resources.

“If you have a high percentage of beds occupied by patients who are staying 30 days or longer, that shifts the average length of stay fairly quickly,” says Keepers. “It slows down the throughput of the hospital.”

People who require inpatient care currently wait an average of nearly two days in recliners in the Unity Center’s emergency wing before receiving a bed.

And since patients with mental health issues are still showing up to emergency rooms around the city, they’re still sometimes being “boarded” at those hospitals until space opens up at Unity—that “stick me in a room and isolate me” scenario Shoebridge referred to. The Unity Center refused to release data to the Mercury showing how long people are waiting in hospitals before being transferred to the facility, stressing that the system is still in its infancy.
“There’s a chain reaction.You’ve got all these people committed, and you don’t have a place to put them.”—Dr. Y. Pritham Raj

To be clear, unmet demand for mental health beds is nothing new for Portland.

There have never been enough resources, or even the right kinds of resources, for handling all the people experiencing crisis at a given moment in the city. Add the fact that the population is growing rapidly—and that, according to federal data, roughly four percent of all adults in the US experience serious mental illness—and it makes sense that Portland is still seeing difficulties.

The question is how to solve them.

“There’s a chain reaction,” says Raj. “You’ve got all these people who are, say, committed, and you don’t have a place to put them.”
Paige Vickers

Christopher doesn’t know that he is 50 years old, or what time of year it is. He believes his family has been replaced by impostors, and that his estranged wife, who is still alive, died “weirdly, Walking Dead-style.”

At home, Christopher would sometimes hear assailants banging on his door and walls. He believes people who walk by his house are spying on him with ill intent. He insists he’s been blacklisted from getting any sort of job.

Until March, Christopher lived for more than a decade with his elderly mother and sister, in a home one police officer describes as resembling an episode of Hoarders: layers of grime on the counters, trash piled on the floor.

Then on March 31, Christopher took a crowbar to his mother’s locked bedroom door in search of batteries, and struck his sister repeatedly when she tried to intervene. The police showed up to the house weeks later—after the mother and sister had fled—and took Christopher to the hospital. At some point, he was transferred to Unity.

On April 25, he is brought, shoeless and unkempt, into the bright courtroom where civil commitment hearings at the center take place.

Christopher’s clinician tells the court the man is schizophrenic, and “not oriented to time or place or situation.” His sister, still visibly angry from the events of late March, testifies matter-of-factly that she and her mother have a restraining order against the man, and that he is no longer welcome to live with them.

Christopher, in a high-pitched, soft-spoken voice, explains there is nothing wrong with him. “I don’t have a problem,” he tells two mental health professionals asking him questions about his perceptions. “This happened for real.”

It doesn’t take long for a judge to commit him to OHA custody for up to 180 days. He is brought back upstairs. How long he’ll remain there is unclear.

You can’t talk to anyone about the problems in Portland’s mental health care system without hearing about the Oregon State Hospital.

Currently comprised of two main facilities—in Salem and Junction City—and built to accept roughly 800 patients, the OSH is where the state cares for some of those who’ve been civilly committed, but also for people who might be in prison if they didn’t have a mental illness or who need psychiatric care to understand criminal charges against them.

The hospital in Salem has seen plenty of notoriety in the past century—culminating in an investigation by the US Department of Justice that began in 2006 and continues to influence]. Still, since the decrepit original facility was torn down and a new one opened in 2011, much of the scandal has subsided.

And depending on whom you talk to, the OSH is either helping spur delays in Portland’s mental health system or is a potential answer for them.

Which brings us back to Osborne’s observation that his staffers are seeing more very sick people trickling in from out of town. “It feels to me these are not the same people we’ve seen again and again,” he says.

It’s a mere anecdote, of course, but Osborne doesn’t shy away from pointing to a potential factor: He believes the state hospital, keen on proving itself to the DOJ, is releasing people too early.

“We’re seeing people who are coming out of the state hospital who quickly decompensate and end up back in our system,” he says. “They’re discharging some really poor discharges.”

The sentiment is backed up by Raj, who says that Adventist experienced similar issues before transferring its 43 psychiatric beds to the Unity Center.

“Sick, sick patients were coming right out of long-term care,” he says. “The hope was if you stayed at the state hospital for three months, you’d be better. Sometimes you’d be coming out no better.”

Osborne and others the Mercury spoke with point to a state plan developed in partnership with the DOJ, called the Oregon Performance Plan, which sets aggressive targets for when the hospital releases patients.

By late June, for instance, the OSH is pledging to discharge 75 percent of people it deems “ready to transition” within 30 days. By 2019, 90 percent of those patients will be released within 20 days.

These benchmarks are part of a more comprehensive plan, and are designed to ensure people aren’t being kept in state custody longer than necessary. But for Osborne, they raise questions.

“It concerns me when you have an organization like that saying, ‘We have to discharge an amount of people in a certain period of time,’” he says. “Why? Is there housing for them?”

Mike Morris, the OHA’s behavioral health administrator, suggests that concern is overblown.

“You need to look at the Oregon Performance Plan in its entirety,” he says. “Yes, there’s a push to get people out of state hospitals, but there are also things to make sure people are prepared to go out into the community.”

Those include housing support, crisis services, and more, Morris says.

There are also those who say the hospital should be doing more to admit Portland patients, thereby freeing up local resources. It often takes weeks from the time a person is referred to the hospital until they are admitted, Osborne says.

Part of that is by design. Morris says the hospital doesn’t presume it will take in every patient committed to state custody, and wants to ensure everything possible is being done locally before admitting someone.

But a lot of it also comes down to resources. More and more, state numbers show, the hospital system is tied up with so-called “aid and assist” cases, in which clinicians work with accused criminals.

“That has impacted our ability to take civil commitments over the last year, year and a half,” says Morris. At any given time, the hospital has a list of a dozen civilly committed patients or more waiting to land a spot.

Keepers, the OHSU psychiatry chair, says the problem could be partly helped if the state fully staffed the hospital system, which is frequently criticized for its high costs.

“If it were to be fully opened, that would take quite a bit of pressure off the system,” he says, referring to the hospital facility in Junction City.

Instead, the state appears ready to go the opposite direction. In her efforts to close a $1.6 billion budget hole, Gov. Kate Brown has proposed closing the 174-bed Junction City facility next year, just three years after it opened.

It’s still too early, of course, to tell if the Unity Center will deliver on the hopeful fanfare it opened to in January.

And some close watchers of the mental health system are skeptical the center will offer that much progress in a city—and state—that lacks so many resources for helping people who aren’t either in dire emergencies or relatively stable.

“Conceptually it’s a nice option to have,” says Chris Bouneff, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Oregon. “At the same time, we can’t be patting ourselves on the back. We’ve done one thing.”

Still, if Portland is going to be successful at helping increasing numbers of people in trouble on its streets, the Unity Center has to be a central piece in seeing them get compassionate and knowledgeable care. As Bouneff points out, there’s not an emergency room like it in the state. Simply the fact Unity was built is a positive indication.

“Ten years ago in this state, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation,” he says. “We wouldn’t be developing anything.”

Now, we have developed something. It just has to work.

Back at Wanda’s recommitment hearing, the judge doesn’t take much time to reach a decision: The woman still suffers from a mental illness, is incapable of caring for herself, and will be committed for up to 180 days.

It will be up to her doctor to convince Wanda to breathe in her medication, and to stave off another emergency trip to save her life. But with the verdict comes another thing the Unity Center must consider.

Wanda’s just been accepted to the state hospital. Now that she’s been recommitted, she can leave tomorrow.

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Severely mentally ill inmates spend too much time in their cells, says new report

Oregonian, May 5, 2017

Male inmates with the most severe mental illnesses are allowed out of their cells for only a few hours on average each week despite a pledge last year by the Oregon Department of Corrections to increase the amount of time, a leading disability rights organization says.

The finding is part of Disability Rights Oregon’s progress report on the state’s promise to improve conditions in the Behavioral Health Unit at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. The report was released Wednesday.

Read the Oregon Department of Corrections chief’s letter to Disability Rights Oregon’s report on a unit that houses severely mentally ill inmates. The agency released the letter on Tuesday in response to a public records request.

Workers in Oregon prison unit say critical report inaccurate

Sgt. Jeff Hernandez and counselors Katie Bell and Tyann Etzel said mental health and security staff have a generally cooperative relationship that has significantly improved in the past year.

The advocacy group in 2015 issued a report detailing “a hopeless and dysfunctional program” responsible for 40 inmates with serious mental illnesses. The report concluded that inmates spent a vast majority of their days in their cells in an area facility that was dark, stifling and foul-smelling.

“It was sort of like a dungeon,” said Joel Greenberg, an attorney with Disability Rights Oregon. Greenberg authored the 2015 report, as well as the new progress report. “People were howling and screaming. It was a very bad situation.”

The group identified three top concerns in its initial report: isolation of prisoners who spent 23 hours a day in 6-by-10-foot cells and were let out for one hour or less; lack of access to timely mental health services that left inmates spiraling out of control and typically resulted in the use of force by corrections officers; and a culture in which advice of mental health professionals was consistently ignored and mental health crises were handled instead through the use of stun guns, pepper spray, riot gear and restraint chairs.

Corrections officials agreed to make key changes, including adding staff to the unit, improving training, increasing space for treatment and educational programs and allowing inmates housed in the unit to spend on average 20 hours per week outside of their cells. The also agency hired an outside consultant, Joel Dvoskin, who is a clinical psychologist, to help with the reforms. The state has so far paid Dvoskin $85,799 for his work.

Greenberg said the prison system has made “impressive and meaningful” improvements. The use of force on the unit, for instance, has declined. So has the number of inmates trying to harm themselves. Fewer inmates have been placed on suicide watch. The facility unit itself has been improved: The bathrooms received a coat of paint and 42 TVs were installed, though a dozen were later destroyed by inmates, according to the report.

But prisoners in the unit still spent less than five hours a week outside of their cells, which the progress report called “a deeply concerning failure.”

Greenberg’s report notes that inmates spend more time out of their cells now than they did when the state agreed to the reforms, but he added that progress has been “erratic.”

The advocacy group attributed the lack of progress to a “vexingly high” turnover among mental health professionals in the unit, a disproportionate discipline of inmates in the special unit compared with the general population and an “overemphasis on security concerns.”

The group said it plans to investigate complaints that corrections officers retaliated against clinical staff “to determine if needed mental health services are being blocked due to the desire of some staff to assert authority rather than to further” the unit’s mission.

Colette Peters, director of the Department of Corrections, said she takes the progress report “very seriously.”

She said a chief obstacle to increasing time for recreation and treatment is the facility itself. The agency sought and received money from the Legislature to add a modular building on the grounds of the state prison for the special unit. Lawmakers set aside $5.1 million for the building and additional staffing. The governor’s proposed budget calls for another $6.9 million for the unit. The building is expected to open in 2018.

“We are working in that direction,” she said. “We have seen lots of progress. We recognize we are not perfect. We are not where we want to be, but we are truly headed in the right direction.”

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Public Hearings about Portland Police Reform – upcoming dates

Citizens concerned about the fate of police reform in Portland will have the chance to offer input at five upcoming forums – four hosted by the Independent Police Review, and one hosted by the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Peace and Justice.

The Mental Health Association of Portland is a member of the AMA Coalition. In 2012 the US Department of Justice found the Portland Police Bureau has a pattern and practice of harming people with mental illness. The 2014 Federal lawsuit, USA v. City of Portland, has sought to amend that harm with additional training, development of facilities to benefit people with mental illness, and changes to city policy.

The AMA coalition will hold a public forum to take feedback on the city’s progress with the Department of Justice Settlement Agreement.

6 to 8 p.m. April 25 at Maranatha Church, 4222 NE 12th Ave.

Leaders of the AMA Coalition will update the community on the status of the city’s settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice, and take input on the April 3 draft compliance report on the city’s reforms. Comments on that report are due May 2.

Two members of the Compliance Officer/Community Liaison team from Chicago have committed to attending the forum. For more information about the AMA Coalition forum, contact Chair Dr. LeRoy Haynes, Jr., or co-chair Dr. T. Allen Bethel at (503) 288-7242.

In addition to the AMA Coalition public forum, the Independent Police Review will hold five listening sessions in the coming weeks:

10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. April 15 at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, 10301 NE Glisan St.
6:30 – 8 p.m. April 19 at Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Hwy.
6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. April 25 at Charles Jordan Community Center, 9009 N. Foss Ave.
2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. April 28 at Matt Dishman Community Center, 77 NE Knott St.

Citizens also can comment on the settlement to the Independent Police Review at constantin.severe@portlandoregon.gov, by postal mail at Independent Police Review, 1221 SW 4th, Suite 140, Portland, OR 97204, or by voicemail, (503) 823-0146.

It’s left unstated by both the AMA Coalition and the Independent Police Review what will be done with the collected feedback.

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