The policy discussed below is not operating. Currently (12/16/2011) the planned program would require a caller to state they are, or someone is suicidal, give their name and address, state they are alone, that they present no immediate threat to themselves or others, that they do not have the means to commit suicide, and that they are willing to be transferred to a ‘mental health crisis line.’ It’s uncertain how many calls like this occur.
Next year, the Portland Police Bureau implements a new policy that will redirect non-threatening 911 calls involving suicide to the Multnomah County Mental Health Call Center. The calls would be limited to those involving a suicidal person who poses no threat to anyone else. The police hope the new policy will connect suicidal callers with mental health care professionals as soon as possible.
The new policy follows other efforts by the police to reform the way they deal with incidents involving mental illness in order to handle these situations in a less confrontational way. Details are being worked out between the Police Bureau and the Bureau of Emergency Communications, but the program is expected to begin sometime in 2012.
Have you called the police about an incident involving mental illness? What was your experience?
Sara Westbrook: Captain with the Portland Police Bureau
Heeseung Kang: Program Supervisor of the Multnomah County Mental Health Call Center
Jason Renaud: Spokesman for the Mental Health Association of Portland