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Portland Street Response Statement Regarding Death of Robert Douglas Delgado

News Article
PSR on its response model and steps forward
Published

As professionals who have dedicated our careers to assisting people in mental health crises and as new responders in the Lents neighborhood, the Portland Street Response (PSR) team mourns the death of Robert Douglas Delgado on Friday.

Many of you have asked why PSR was not dispatched on this call. We appreciate the community’s concerns because we have consistently heard from you that PSR needs to be flexible in its response model. This pilot project was designed to be adaptable as the program learns and grows. We will be debriefing this incident as a team and citywide to learn how PSR can improve its interventions.

The pilot currently responds to calls Monday – Friday from 10 am to 6 pm in the greater Lents area. Our next phase starts this summer and we will bring on more team members to help cover the greater Lents neighborhood on nights and weekends as well. Ultimately, we will bring this service to all of Portland, 24/7, in 2022.

When we started two months ago, we knew our pilot program would change tactics based on call data and experiences in the field. The program started strictly in the Lents neighborhood but after weekly consultation with our partners at the Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC), we expanded our boundaries and added new call types. You can read about this expansion here: https://www.portland.gov/streetresponse/news/2021/4/7/portland-street-response-pilot-adds-increased-areas-service-adds-more

Portland Street Response is dispatched via calls to 911 or the non-emergency number.

Currently, PSR is dispatched when a caller reports:

  • A person who is possibly experiencing a mental health crisis; intoxicated and/or drug affected. This person is either outside or inside of a publicly accessible space such as a business, store, public lobby, etc.
  • A person who is outside and down, not checked.
  • A person who is outside and yelling.
  • A person who needs a referral for services, but does not have access to a phone line.

The call meets the previous criteria - AND

  • There are no weapons seen.
  • The person is not in traffic/not obstructing traffic.
  • The person is not violent towards others (physically combative, threatening violence, assaulting).
  • The person is not suicidal.
  • The person is not inside of a private residence.

Portland Street Response was not dispatched to the mental health crisis call involving Robert Douglas Delgado in Lents Park on Friday for several reasons:

  1. The call came in at 9:30 am and PSR currently starts taking calls at 10 am.
  2.  PSR is not sent out on calls when a gun is reported.

We meet weekly with our partners at BOEC to discuss call types and possible ways to make our program more impactful. We will be evaluating this event and assessing how we can increase the types of calls we respond on.

We appreciate the support the community has shown our program. During this pilot we only cover a small patch of Portland during limited hours in order to design the best program possible. Operating two months in, our response numbers would never match those of a program such as CAHOOTS in Eugene that has been in operation for over 30 years and covers their entire city 24/7, but we believe our full expansion will exceed the number of calls taken by a program such as CAHOOTS that operates in a smaller city.

We plan to be as transparent as possible with the program and share PSR’s story with the community as it grows and evolves.

And we plan to find every way possible to help prevent tragic outcomes in Lents and beyond. Portland Street Response is ultimately about an institutional and cultural shift in how we respond to those in crisis and it will require constant dialogue across the city and our community to get this right.