Officials from Austin, Chicago, Durham, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, and Philadelphia are interested in implementing and scaling up similar programs in their cities.
PORTLAND, OR -- Earlier this October, more than two dozen local elected officials, government staffers, and community leaders met with the Portland Street Response to learn from the program and identify best practices that can be adapted in their localities.
Participants included local elected officials from Antioch (CA), Austin, Chicago, Detroit, Durham, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Oak Park (IL), Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Rochester (NY) – each who is interested in creating or scaling a community responder program.
In the past few years, dozens of community responder programs have been established across the country. Polling shows that voters - including a majority of Republicans - strongly support sending healthcare experts instead of armed officers to support people having a mental health crisis, dealing with substance abuse, or experiencing homelessness.
With growing awareness and popularity, more localities are working to implement these programs. Portland Street Response is one of only two citywide programs that is housed within a local government department – which experts and advocates say better promotes the creation of high-quality jobs and pay equity.
The learning experience was hosted by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and organized by Local Progress and the Local Progress Impact Lab, which bring together local leaders, partners, and issue experts to build the knowledge, skills, and leadership needed to advance racial and economic justice at the local level.
“Portland Street Response is one of the most innovative and successful new programs in Portland’s history, providing the first major update to our first response system in almost 100 years. As PSR continues to expand, we continue to ensure the most effective first response is sent to the right 911 call.” said Commissioner Hardesty. “Portland Street Response’s success is inspiring the whole country, and that is something all Portlanders can be proud of. It was an incredible honor to host over two dozen elected leaders from around the country that want to bring Portland’s model to their home.”
Participants met with key stakeholders involved in Portland Street Response, including Fire & Rescue Chief Sara Boone, Street Roots Executive Director Kaia Sand, Portland State University Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative Co-founder Greg Townley, Director of the Bureau of Emergency Communications Bob Cozzie, and Portland Police Bureau Deputy Chief Mike Frome.
“Using police resources to address these problems is inefficient and is actually a waste of money in the long run,” said Deputy Chief Mike Frome.
"When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, the only people who are equipped to respond in order to deescalate are those trained in trauma-informed care, like a mental health crisis responder,” shared Chief Sara Boone.
The group also toured PSR Headquarters, as well as the 911 call center to understand how dispatchers transfer calls to PSR.
“I push this work because when I think about Irene Chavez - who was experiencing PTSD - being put in a police car and taking her own life after being left alone in a jail cell instead of being connected with help, I know she could still be here if we had a different response,” shared Chicago Alderperson Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez.
Images and video footage were provided by and available for use with credit to: Local Progress / Local Progress Impact Lab
Local Progress and the Local Progress Impact Lab work collectively to advance a racial and economic justice agenda through all levels of government. Local Progress (LP) is a movement of more than 1,300 local elected officials advancing a racial and economic justice agenda through all levels of local government. The Local Progress Impact Lab (the Impact Lab) brings together local leaders, partners, and experts to build the knowledge, skills, and leadership needed to advance racial and economic justice at the local level.