Proposed house bill could help funding of a mobile crisis intervention program

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — The Oregon House Committee on Behavioral Health is considering a bill that could help bring a crisis intervention program to Jackson County.

HB2417 would create state grants that would match 50% of local funding for a program similar to CAHOOTS.

“What they do is they have a 911 call center that is trained to send out the right response for the right problem that people are experiencing,” Caren Caldwell, NAMI volunteer, said.

CAHOOTS has been running in Eugene for more than 30 years.

Jackson County has considered implementing similar programs but has been held back because of funding.

“The issue has always been funding and ongoing funding sources,” Medford Police Chief, Scott Clauson, said.

Chief Clauson says last year, their department responded to over 1,000 calls that were not related to crime.

“When we get pulled into a welfare check situation or situation that’s going to be prolonged, that takes an officer off the street and makes them unavailable,” Clauson said.

When police intervene in situations involving mental holds, suicides, or detoxes, there are only two options for people: go to jail, or go to the hospital.

Neither of which Clauson says are good options.

Here’s how HB2417 works–  a city or county looking to implement a program would need to meet a number of guidelines including:

  • A crisis team with both an emergency medical services provider and a crisis worker
  • Trained 911 operators in recognizing behavioral health calls
  • At least 1 sobering facility, shelter facility, and crisis respite center

To read all the other requirements, click here.

If those requirements are met, the city or county would then need to provide 50% of the funding to receive 50% from the state.

Bringing in a separate crisis management team is something that Clauson says would be really helpful to law enforcement, and something that Caldwell says is necessary.

It’s necessary because right now we are lacking certain services that people with mental illnesses, or drug addiction or people that are homeless need,” Caldwell said.

The bill is sponsored by Representative Pam Marsh. So far, Medford, Ashland, and Phoenix have endorsed a CAHOOTS-type mobile crisis response program.

The bill still needs to go through a number of committees before being brought forward for a vote in the house and senate.

If it is passed, it could be a while before it is actually implemented.

 

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