Mental Health & Public Safety Panel holds first meeting

Oregonian – October 2006

Mayor Tom Potter’s Mental Health & Public Safety Implementation Panel held its first meeting Tuesday (10/31) to begin changing how the local and regional public safety and mental health systems work together.

The panel, formed by Mayor Potter in the wake of the death of James Chasse, is being co-sponsored by Senators Avel Gordly and Ben Westlund and County Chair-elect Ted Wheeler. It is charged with taking recommendations that will be made by a small, focused work group and forging the policy and budget changes necessary to implement them.

“It is unacceptable that anyone should die because of the lack of training, lack of coordination, funding, or appropriate response,” the Mayor told the group. “We don’t intend to reinvent the wheel, but to look at (previous recommendations) and to use them as a starting point to move forward.”

The meeting comes one day after Mayor Potter announced that he is asking the City Council to spend $500,000 over the next two years to give Portland police officers 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) that will help them more effectively deal with people suffering from a mental illness. Patrol officers will be the first to receive the training if approved.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Multnomah County Commissioner Lisa Naito announced the County is also also in the process of making CIT training mandatory for all deputy sheriffs.

The Implementation Panel members make up a broad coalition of local, regional and state officials, including:

* Iris Bell, Multnomah County Chair Diane Linn’s Office
* Karl Brimner, Multnomah County Mental Health & Addiction Services
* Doris Cameron-Minard, Mental Health Advocate
* Beckie Child, Mental Health Association of Oregon
* Bernie Giusto, Multnomah County Sheriff
* Avel Gordly, Oregon State Senator
* Maureen Hovenkotter, Office of Sen. Gordon Smith
* Lisa Naito, Multnomah County Commissioner
* Austin Raglione, Mayor’s Office
* Maria Rubio, Mayor’s Office
* Lillian Shirley, Multnomah County Health Department
* Rosie Sizer, Portland Police Bureau
* Ben Westlund, Oregon State Senator
* Ted Wheeler, Multnomah County Chair-Elect

Several members of the panel, including Senators Gordly and Westlund, made impassioned pleas for the group to identify priorities quickly and move aggressively to take advantage of the upcoming Legislative session. The Mayor set a timetable of 60-90 days for the panel to make its final, short-term recommendations.