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Behavioral Health Unit

The mission of the Behavioral Health Unit is to coordinate the response of Law Enforcement and the Behavioral Health System to aid people in behavioral crisis resulting from known or suspected mental illness and or drug and alcohol addiction.

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About the Behavioral Health Unit

The BHU is a part of the Community Services Division, which is under the umbrella of the Chief’s Office and oversees the four tiers of police response to individuals with mental illness or in behavioral crisis:

  • The core competency of Crisis Intervention Training for all patrol officers
  • The Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team, a group of volunteer officers that respond to mental health crisis calls.
  • The proactive Behavioral Health Response Teams (BHRT); and
  • The Service Coordination Team

As primary responders to crisis calls, all Portland Police Bureau officers receive basic Crisis Intervention Training as well as annual CIT refresher training.

In addition, the Bureau has volunteer officers from a variety of patrol assignments on the Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team (ECIT).  These officers will be the first responders dispatched by 9-1-1 to crisis calls that are determined to be related to an individual with mental illness.  ECIT officers receive additional training in order to; identify risks during a behavioral crisis, utilize crisis communication techniques to help deescalate a person in crisis, and have knowledge of available community resources. 

Behavioral Health Response Teams (BHRT) pair a patrol officer and a  qualified mental health professional from Cascadia Project Respond.  The Portland Police Bureau has five BHRT teams.  The officers and mental health professionals work proactively with individuals who have a mental illness and are identified as having multiple or high risk contacts with police.  The BHRT cars work to connect individuals to appropriate community resources in order to reduce their frequency of contact with police.  Referrals to the BHRT cars are made through patrol officers.

The mission of the Service Coordination Team is to improve public safety, reinforce community livability and increase quality of life by coordinating law enforcement, criminal justice, and resources for individuals who are chronically in and out of the criminal justice system. The SCT Program offers housing, treatment, and robust services to address the underlying root causes of police contact and to help break the entrenched cycle of addiction and criminality.

For further information on the Behavioral Health Unit, please contact (503) 823-0812. 


Behavioral Health Response Team

BHRT Ride-Along

As a continuing series of getting to know firsthand the work officers are doing in our community, the Police Bureau released a video ride-along with Behavioral Health Response Team Officer Josh Silverman and Project Respond clinician Cindy Hackett. 

In the spring of 2013, the Portland Police Bureau created the Behavioral Health Unit (BHU), which is located within Central Precinct and oversees crisis intervention training for all officers; the Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team, a group of officers who volunteer to respond to most crisis calls; the proactive Behavioral Health Response Team (BHRT); and the Service Coordination Team (SCT).

The Behavioral Health Response Team pairs a Project Respond clinician with a Portland Police Officer.   BHRTs proactively work with individuals who have multiple contacts with police to attempt to connect them with appropriate services in advance of a mental health crisis. The Police Bureau now has five BHRT cars.

The Portland Police Bureau is committed to continuous improvement in our delivery of service to Portland's most vulnerable communities. Please take a moment to watch the video for a better understanding of the work of the BHRT.


Mental Health Resources

NAMI Multnomah


BHU Newsletter