Steve Klopp is trapped at the intersection of Public Health & Public Safety

We’ve known Steve Klopp for about a year and know his family and history. He’s a gentle, educated, and articulate man with schizophrenia who’s lived in Portland off and on for almost a decade. For most of that time he has been homeless and gone without medical treatment.

Unfortunately Steve’s is not an exceptional situation in Portland. What is exceptional is that Multnomah County’s legal system – police, courts, jail, and parole – have had continuous opportunities to help Steve access medical treatment. He’s chronically ill, his illness makes it impossible for him to engage in treatment on his own, he’s eligible for services, and he’s even enrolled in services, has a medical provider willing and able to help him.

So why does the community need to help Steve? Three reasons.

One, asking Steve Klopp to voluntarily engage in medical treatment is exactly like asking a blind person to read a book, or a paralyzed person to climb stairs. His brain is disorganized to the point he’s unable to recognize the urgent need for treatment. The measure of that is he’s been arrested over 30 times in the metro area, mostly for minor nuisance crimes entirely a result of untreated his illness. He’s not against medical treatment and willingly takes medical when offered, but is unable to remember to take it when on his own.

Two, as we know from numerable sources, the criminal justice system is not designed to solve mental illness. Police officers arrest Steve, largely because they want him to get help and think the jail nurses, judges or parole system have the tools or capacity to help him. He cycles through those short-term services without improvement. He has a chronic illness – he doesn’t get better in a few days. And the system is tested for failure. Steve has been arrested over 30 times without engaging in services. Serial arrest is not a solution for Steve.

Three, it’s the humane thing to do. Multnomah County health department staff know how to effectively help Steve Klopp. They just don’t do it. They don’t have the internal rules and procedures to help the 1000 some people, like Steve, who have a thought disorder which disables them from seeking treatment. They know this problem well – as does everyone who visits our inner city – and don’t do it.

Steve is trapped at the intersection of public health and public safety. The solution is cooperation and collaboration between these two complex and self-absorbed systems. That requires insightful leadership, which Multnomah County doesn’t have.

Mother: Man who spit on Indian woman is mentally ill

Klopp’s mother says he suffers from mental illness – July 21, 2017

A 36-year-old homeless man who claimed to be an Army veteran is accused of spitting at a Portland State University student’s mother, who was visiting from India.

The PSU student was riding the MAX Green line on June 15 with her parents when Steven J. Klopp confronted them and began making racial slurs about their nationality, officials said.

“Her and her parents were about to board a MAX train when this person came on the train making disparaging remarks about their nationality, that they should go back to their country. Very disturbing. We at PSU pride ourselves on keeping safe, but unfortunately it happens across the country,” PSU Campus Police Sgt. Willie Halliburton said.

The 35-year-old is charged with intimidation and harassment and in court Friday he said, “I’m the nicest person to ever have been behind jail in American history.”

Klopp’s mother, who lives in Austin, Texas, told KOIN 6 News over the phone that her son is not racist but suffers from mental illness.

“He’s a very sweet, kind gentle person…when he’s on his medication,” Susan Klopp said. “I’m sorry that this incident happened. That is not at all the way my son truly feels but when someone has a mental illness their thinking is skewed.”

Susan Klopp said her son has a long history of mental illness, including bi-polar disorder. She said he comes from a good home and a loving family but his life has been complicated and consumed by outbursts, hardship and homelessness.

“Anything that you’re seeing, you’re seeing the illness,” she said.

Susan has been a mental health advocate for years and has been trying to help her son but his homelessness makes it hard to keep track of his whereabouts and state of mind.

“He has these delusions that if he goes someplace else, that everything will be OK or it’ll all be different but he doesn’t understand that his problems are going with him,” Klopp said.

She said she isn’t making excuses for her son’s behavior and actions. She just wants people to know how mental illnesses can consume the core beliefs of someone like her son.

“What those people saw on that train was the illness,” she said. “And I’m sorry about that.”

PSU graduate, target of racial slurs with parents on MAX, relieved over suspect’s arrest

Oregonian – 7/21/2017

A recent Portland State University graduate said she is relieved that a suspect has been arrested after her family was subjected to racial slurs and taunts on a MAX train a month ago.

The woman said in an interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive that she and her parents are still shaken by the incident in which her mother was also spat upon while riding the train.

The 22-year-old said she and her parents had gotten on a MAX Green Line train on June 15 near Southwest 5th Avenue and Jackson Street. A man with a blue guitar boarded soon after and started yelling at them to get out of the United States, she said during a phone interview Friday afternoon. The woman’s parents were visiting Portland from India to watch her graduate.

The woman said the family initially ignored the man but he continued yelling and hurling slurs. She said he appeared to be directing his tirade at her mother and at one point spat on her dress. Authorities have not identified the victims in this case. The woman requested anonymity because she fears potential backlash.

Steven Klopp said after his arrest that he didn’t know the alleged victim, who he described as a “foreign Indian,” according to records.

In her interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive, the woman said three other people were on the MAX car but none intervened. The incident occurred a little more than two weeks after three men were stabbed on a MAX train after a knife-wielding man allegedly verbally assaulted two young women, one of whom was wearing a hijab. That incident, in which two of the men who tried to help died, also occurred on the MAX Green Line.

“My mom was freaking out. I’m the only one of us who speaks English, but it’s clear that he is aggressive for no reason,” said the graduate, who was born in India and left to pursue a psychology degree at Portland State. “In my mind, I’m thinking about the people who were stabbed on the MAX, and I’m panicking, because I don’t know if this person has any weapons on him and planning to attack us.”

She said she stood between her mother and the stranger while he yelled. The woman said she called 911 and tried to contact the MAX train operator. Once the man noticed she was calling 911, he got upset and swore at her for contacting police, she said.

He took his guitar and left at a stop near Southwest 6th Avenue and Madison Street, she said. The woman, who estimated the incident lasted five to 10 minutes, said they encountered police officers when the MAX stopped at Pioneer Place.

The woman said she gave police a description of the man and his guitar, but they couldn’t find him.

The woman said she had never experienced such blatant racism nor had her parents. It was her father’s first time visiting the United States, and the encounter ruined a celebratory occasion, she said.

She had been looking forward to studying abroad since she was a young teen. She came to Portland partly because she liked the program Portland State had to offer and said she enjoyed her four years in the city. But the experience has her parents scared for her to remain in the United States. She’s looking for work and considering graduate school, but she said she is now thinking about leaving Portland.

“It was the first time I’ve ever had to call 911,” she said. “I’ve been trying to forget that day. It was the worst day of my life.”

The woman said she reported a complaint with TriMet but received no response after about a month. So she reported the encounter to the campus public safety office July 14.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Portland State police Officer David Troppe met with the woman. He discovered another report of a man with a blue guitar yelling hours after the incident involving the woman’s family had taken place. Other officers had reported seeing a man with a blue guitar sleeping in the Urban Center Building.

Another Portland State police report identified a blue guitar-carrying man as Steven Klopp and reported he had been arrested on suspicion of trespassing two days after the incident on the MAX train.

According to the affidavit, Troppe on Thursday spotted Klopp along Southwest 10th Avenue and asked him if he recalled yelling and spitting at anyone while on the MAX Green Line a month ago. Klopp replied, “Yeah, there was some stupid Indian woman that was saying something that was so extreme that it was so insane,” according to the court papers.

Klopp said he “knew it was illegal to spit on someone, but that ‘she’ was the one who crossed the line,” the affidavit said. The woman told The Oregonian/OregonLive that neither she nor her family provoked the suspect.

Klopp was arrested and faces accusations of second-degree intimidation and harassment.

TriMet officials say they first learned of the incident Friday, according to spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt. She said TriMet hadn’t received any complaints regarding the encounter a month ago and so hadn’t archived surveillance footage from the train on that day. She said the footage wouldn’t be available now because it’s typically erased within two weeks.

“Allegations like this are very concerning, and it’s unfortunate something like this happened on our system,” Alstadt said. “I wish we had known to save the video.”

Alstadt said she would check again Monday to see if TriMet received a complaint from the woman. TriMet riders who feel threatened should call 911, contact their bus or MAX train operator, or another TriMet employee, Alstadt said.

Klopp’s criminal history includes 2016 convictions for criminal mischief, harassment and theft in 2014, Oregon court records show. He also has misdemeanor convictions in California and Washington.

Klopp’s mother says her son’s outburst on the MAX was a result of his mental health issues, namely schizoaffective disorder.

Susan Klopp, who lives with her husband and family in Austin, Texas, said Steven has been bouncing between her home and Portland, where his twin brother lives, for five years. She said he was caught in a cycle of getting help and medication, forgetting to take it, suffering a breakdown and ending up homeless and unstable again.

“When he’s on his medication and stabilized, he does well,” she said. “He can be a productive member of society.”

Susan said her son studied fine arts for three years in college and paints beautifully. “I just want people to see the person behind the illness,” she said. “When he’s stable he is kind, sweet, loving and shy. Not at all what people have seen of him.”

While Steven should have gotten counseling and help under careful monitoring, he’s been living on the streets and stealing food to survive, Susan said. Helping her son has been difficult, she said, because privacy laws don’t allow hospitals to inform Susan of her son’s condition unless he signs a release. Often, he forgot to sign it, she said

“We are just one family with a member in a broken mental health system that’s affecting people across the country,” Susan said. “I want to apologize to the (victims), we are extremely sorry. I’m sure they were terrified. But what happened was not a racist incident, it was a mental health one. I’m just sorry they caught the brunt of that.”

During an interview with Multnomah County court staff from the county jail, Klopp reported being a transient for four years and having been in the Portland area for a year and a half. He reported having prior military service in the Army and “just quit one day,” court documents said.

Man accused of yelling racial slurs at Indian family on MAX train – 7/21/2017

During his arraignment, 35-year-old Steven Klopp took a moment to speak his mind.

“I’m the nicest person who should have never been behind jail in American history,” said Klopp.

He defended himself after being accused of getting on the MAX at the Urban Center stop on the Portland State University campus and confronting an Indian student and her parents in mid-June. In court, he said he didn’t initiate it. But police have a different story.

“He started using swear words at them and telling them they should leave this country, go back to their country. During this altercation the man spat on the student’s mother,” said Sgt. Willie Halliburton, with PSU Campus Public Safety.

Halliburton said Klopp made comments about how he was a “great American” as he was being arrested near Southwest 10th Avenue and Market Street.

“We were able to arrest him yesterday and get him off the street because you know, who knows how this thing could have ended up if he continued this type of harassment,” said Halliburton.

But for some, the idea of getting harassed based on their race is all too common.

“Obviously there’s been a pretty big problem with race in our country and unfortunately in Portland too,” said Ajesh Saini.

While Saini doesn’t know the Indian woman involved, he can relate. He said he and his family are profiled on a daily basis.

“It’s always a fear you know. You never know what’s going to happen or when it’s going to happen,” he said.

In court documents, when investigators asked Klopp if he knew the victim, he said he didn’t know them and that the person was a “foreign Indian” who doesn’t speak English.

As for Klopp, his twin brother Matthew told KGW over the phone that what Klopp is accused of saying isn’t what he believes.

Both Klopp’s mother and brother say he’s been struggling with Schizoaffective Disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bi-polar, for the last eight years. For the last five or so years, Klopp has lived on the streets in Portland. Klopp’s family said he’s gone in and out of jail and the hospital. They’ve tried endlessly to get him help, but nothing has worked.

The only thing that has worked is medication. But Klopp’s mother said he always ends up not taking it. Klopp has a criminal history in Multnomah County. It started when he first began living on the streets, in 2012. It’s composed of a laundry list of crimes, such as theft and criminal mischief. Now, it includes intimidation.

Klopp’s twin brother and mother said there needs to be a better system to handle people with mental health issues.

Klopp is expected back in court next week.

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Making Medical Decisions Peer Survey

Are you between 18 and 64?

Do you use mental health services?

Have you been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons?

Do you live in the Portland metropolitan area?

Your diverse experience is valued!

Beckie Child, a doctoral student in Social Work at Portland State University is recruiting focus group participants to talk about how people diagnosed with mental illness get information and make decisions in physical and mental health care.

Some participants may also be selected for an additional in-depth interview.

Participants will be entered into a drawing for three $50 Fred Meyer gift cards.

For more information, contact Beckie Child at 503-308-8812 or

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Johnny Lee Larsen

Johnny Lee Larsen

March 6, 1981. Columbian – Vancouver, Washington.

March 8, 1981. Columbian – Vancouver, Washington.

March 9, 1981. Columbian – Vancouver, Washington.

March 11, 1981. Columbian – Vancouver, Washington.

March 12, 1981. Columbian – Vancouver, Washington.

March 13, 1981. Columbian – Vancouver, Washington.

March 26, 1981. Columbian – Vancouver, Washington.

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Getting Help for Marijuana Addiction

Alcohol, heroin and other drugs can have HARD consequences – jails, institutions and death. Marijuana addiction is different. Marijuana addiction has SOFT consequences – lost potential, missed opportunities, limited relationships, stunted development. Different, sometimes obscure, but no less real. But getting effective help to cease using marijuana is hard to find in Oregon.

These different consequences require separate treatment resources to be successful. The language is different. Therefore, to be successful, treatment for marijuana addiction should be provided SEPARATE from alcohol, cocaine, opiates, or other drugs. The experience, culture, and physical dependence caused by marijuana is not-comparable. Mixing clients effectively reduces access to recovery and increases resistance to reduction or sustenance. Agencies which provide “substance use disorder groups” and mixed clients should be avoided.

And marijuana addicts may be different from other drug addicts because of motivation to get clean. Many alcoholics, cocaine and opiate addicts get motivated to stop using because of threat of incarceration, or significant medical issues. Marijuana addicts want to quit because they want to improve their relationship with their loved ones, improve job performance, get through school, be more social or thoughtful.

Further marijuana poses real danger for people with mental illness. So many of us have gone untreated or been mistreated by the community mental health system that we’ve turned to marijuana to sooth our pains. Like alcohol it’s immediately effective, but marijuana too often triggers relapse into depression, delusions, fears, or psychosis. Marijuana is dangerous for many people with mental illness.

Ironically, many – most – people who smoke marijuana don’t have problems with it. In that way it’s like alcohol. A percentage of people have trouble; not everyone. And the percentage for marijuana is a minority – somewhere between 15% and 25% end up with problems caused by marijuana use. Marijuana is not nicotine or dilaudid, common legal drugs with high rates of addiction – 90% or more. That minority is harmed by the drug, by their addiction.

We don’t say marijuana should be illegal. The law is the wrong tool to help people with a medical problem. Instead, we advocate for access to effective treatment for those who want to stop smoking pot. The state, in legalizing marijuana, has an obligation and the resources to provide effective treatment for those who are harmed by marijuana.

But getting treatment may be a hassle.

In 2015 marijuana proponents told Oregon voters legalizing recreational marijuana would provide dollars for drug treatment. Unsurprisingly, state and local legislators failed to protect the minority who are harmed by marijuana.

We asked Oregon’s top addiction treatment professionals at the Oregon Health Authority and at Multnomah County Mental Health and Addictions Services Division about access to marijuana-specific treatment, and outcomes from those treatments. How can people get help for marijuana? What’s the result of that drug treatment – and the public funds spent on it?

Their answer? Oregon doesn’t provide treatment for marijuana addiction. Marijuana addicts are included in the same treatment provided for alcoholics, cocaine addicts and heroin addicts. Further, Oregon doesn’t collect data on the outcome of that treatment for marijuana addicts. That evidence could be used to know whether treatment provided to marijuana addicts is effective – but Oregon chooses to not know.

We’ve been unable to find evidence treatment in Oregon for marijuana addiction – public or private – works at all. Know something that works? Tell us, show us evidence – send to or post as a comment to this article. We’d like to know.

Addiction treatment professionals often discount marijuana addiction. Some deny marijuana is addictive, some think it’s a medicine, some discount the importance. These people are a big part of the problem. Many addiction treatment professionals themselves use marijuana or used marijuana in the past without experiencing negative consequences. Example: the Addiction Counselor Certification Board of Oregon recently had to remind their licensees that they should not use marijuana. See – ACCBO Marijuana Policy Statement, 2016. Addiction treatment professionals are too often uneducated – and inexperienced. Be wary. Evidence-based information about marijuana can be got from educated and experienced clinicians and from people in long term recovery from marijuana addiction – so inquire about both training for marijuana addiction and lived experience.

So you may be on your own to get well.

Ask prospective treatment agencies during your intake call, “can you connect me with a clinician in long-term recovery from marijuana addiction?” If they’re unwilling to make the connection or demur, or say all our clinicians can help you, hang up and call another agency.

Look and listen for agencies which use language like “addiction” and not “substance abuse.” Look for agencies which talk about recovery, hire people in recovery, and refer to outside long-term community groups to provide continuing support for recovery.

If you have health insurance, try these two inpatient clinics in Washington State – Lakeside Milam in Seattle, and our favorite – the Sundown M Ranch in Yakima.

But you may not need treatment. First try Marijuana Anonymous. This is a twelve-step program based on Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s free, helpful to lots of people, and all over the world.

Marijuana Anonymous – Portland, Tigard, Salem, and Bend Meetings

Below is a good overview of marijuana science and treatment from Dr. Kai MacDonald, medical director at Lasting Recovery, an outpatient clinic in Southern California.

Here are some useful peer-reviewed texts on treatment for marijuana addiction.

Marijuana Dependence and Its Treatment
Alan J. Budney, Ph.D., Roger Roffman, D.S.W., Robert S. Stephens, Ph.D., and Denise Walker, Ph.D. – 2017

Attributes of long-term heavy cannabis users: a case-control study (PDF)
Gruber, Pope, Hudson, Yurgelun-Todd – 2003

Psychosocial interventions for cannabis use disorder (PDF)
Cochrane Drugs and Alcohol Group – 2016

Available Treatments for Marijuana Use Disorders – from NIDA

The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids – The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research (PDF) This is a massive review of clinical literature on marijuana treatment as of January 2017 – perhaps the largest ever mustered. Essential reading.

Is Marijuana Medicine?

Maybe. But almost in 2015 95% of state-approved medical marijuana patients in California weren’t sick in a way marijuana might help. But likely if you can have a frank conversation with a qualified physician who isn’t employed somehow by the marijuana industry and doesn’t use themselves, they’ll chuckle and say no, pot is not a medicine. BTW, the frantic testimony by users is impeached. They’re users.

An Analysis of Applicants Presenting to a Medical Marijuana Specialty Practice in California
Helen Nunberg, MD, MPH, Beau Kilmer, PhD, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, PhD, and James Burgdorf – 2015

Is Marijuana Dangerous for Teens?

There has been a substantial increase in teen use of marijuana in states which have legalized medical or recreational marijuana. Watch this documentary, made in Portland about Cleveland High School students who smoke marijuana.

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