‘Help us bring light to the need of more CAHOOTS services’ – KVAL.com, August 5, 2015
According to police reports, the mother called 911 to report her son was having a psychotic break due to a previous traumatic brain injury.
The call came in just before 3 a.m. on Thursday, July 16.
Another 911 call reported the 19-year-old son had his mother in a headlock.
Upon arrival, police reports indicate a struggle broke out involving the teen, his mother and officers. Police used a TASER twice to subdue the man.
Officers also arrested the mother on a charge of Interfering with a Police Officer.
Those charges were quickly dropped, but her daughter, Jazzmyn Richardson, said hearing about the experience is something she can’t forget.
“So I was really shocked that like my brother, my mom? Are you sure? Like in Eugene? It was surprising and it was horrible for me. It was a terrible time. And I just really don’t want that to happen to anybody else,” said Jazzmyn Richardson.
According to the woman’s attorney, she called 911 to access a mobile counseling service called CAHOOTS.
CAHOOTS responds in the area from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily.
But if a dispatcher deems a call too dangerous for the intervention specialists, they will send officers instead, or as an escort.
A dispatcher contacted Eugene Police to respond to the July 16 call to Onyx Street in place of CAHOOTS.
NAACP President Eric Richardson and Eugene Police Chief Pete Kerns agree that CAHOOTS is an extremely valuable resource.
NAACP member Jack Radey said the responders are better trained to handle a mental health crisis than police officers.
“This is like trying to paint a picture with a sledgehammer, and the results are not going to be pretty,” said Radey. “A police officer is simply neither trained nor of the mental set to deal with a situation that requires great care and patience.”
Kerns said all officers enroll in a 40 hour course known as crisis intervention training.
“We’ve been providing this since 2006 here,” he said. “It’s been refined over time.”
Following the July 16 event, Kerns said the policy may continue to evolve.
“We also discover from an incident that our policy could be improved and our training could be enhanced. And that might be what we learn in this case. That the officers did what we expected of them and we — I — need to rethink the policy and the training.”
Kerns said CAHOOTS is not a 24-hour service due to funding.
“And I’m sure this incident will help us bring light to the need of more CAHOOTS services,” said Kerns. “It’ll be a good community conversation, I believe.”
To access CAHOOTS in a situation that is not an emergency, dial 541-685-5111.