Only 5 percent of Portland officers volunteer for mental health training

From the Willamette Week, Nov. 20, 2012

About 50 Portland Police Officers tossed their names in to serve on the bureau’s soon-to-be expanded Crisis Intervention Team, a police spokesman tells WW.

Not long after the Department of Justice released its report finding PPB officers have a pattern and practice of using excessive force on those with mental illness, Chief Mike Reese announced the city would create a 24-hour intervention team specially trained to respond to mental health calls.

All officers will continue to receive 40 hours of mental health training, and the CIT officers will get more. The city’s Mobile Crisis Unit, which pairs an officer with a mental health professional, will also grow in size, Reese said in October.

The number of volunteers for CIT represent just 5 percent of the 956 sworn officers in the bureau.

Still, Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson says that the bureau is “very pleased with the number of applicants” and that the administration is now looking through the applicants to see who may be selected.

Simpson says the bureau doesn’t yet know how many officers will be chosen, but police have said that at least one CIT trained officer will be on duty at each precinct every hour of the day.

“It’s a diverse group—a lot of different people from different divisions will be on the street,” Simpson says.