PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The City of Portland’s Community Safety Division released a new report detailing its efforts in the past year.
The Community Safety Division’s 2022 annual report outlined a work plan with action areas in building alternative emergency service models and sending the right responders to calls. Other items include aligning governance structure with goals and reducing the need for public safety response.
Different emergency service models
According to the report, the division worked with Portland Fire & Rescue to support the expansion of Portland Street Response, which assists people experiencing non-life threatening mental and behavioral issues. KOIN 6 News reported about the PSR going citywide last month.
The program is part of PF&R’s new Community Health Division, which the report says also launched the Community Health Assess & Treat Teams in October 2021 in a partnership with CareOregon in order to respond to “low acuity medical calls for service.”
CHAT Teams address the health and social needs of community members who call 911 for non-emergent issues, according to the city’s website. As for CareOregon, it describes itself as a nonprofit providing health plan services to more than 45,000 Oregonians, mostly on Oregon’s Health Plan.
The division says it’s working with the Portland Police Bureau to expand its Public Safety Support Specialist program.
Specialists provide support to PPB’s sworn members in non-emergency, non-priority situations, engage in community outreach with the public and offer visible and community-based police support, according to the report.
Dispatching correct responders
The division plans to release a request for proposals this summer for a public safety service provider call allocation and staffing study. According to the report, this study will conduct a “holistic” assessment of the types of calls dispatched to public safety service providers, according to the report, along with the number and type of providers needed to respond to different types of calls.
“CSD expects to award this contract in August 2022 and the study should be completed in Fall 2023,” the report said.
CSD noted that it also supported the Bureau of Emergency Communications in rolling out a new call triage system in 2021 and supports the expansion of the 311 program to undertake more non-emergency line calls currently handled by BOEC call takers.
The report added, “The 311 program is requesting funds in the (fiscal year 2022-23) budget to hire additional staff to expand its hours of operation.”
Placing governance structure with goals
“For the first time, this year’s Budget Work Sessions for Council included a Community Safety Work Session led by CSD,” the division noted.
CSD said it collaborated with multiple agencies to “tell a story” of how they are “collectively acting with urgency” to address unprecedented community safety challenges. This includes re-envisioning community safety to transform its system.
According to the report, the division plans to consolidate some public safety enterprise functions by transferring 20 finance positions from PPB and BOEC to CSD. The move is to enable the development of a coordinated community safety budget and strategy.
In preparation for this transfer, CSD said it has worked with different staff to develop descriptions outlining how these positions will support public safety bureaus.
The division also highlighted its new Advisory Board & Commissions Unit to support the work of various commissions, groups and teams, including the Police Accountability Commission.
“The PAC has held 15 public meetings since it began meeting in December 2021. It completed the development of bylaws and internal processes and frameworks in March 2022 and will begin work on development of the Police Oversight Board in April,” the CSD stated in its report.
The commission’s work is authorized through June of next year.
Lower need for public safety response
CSD said it worked closely with the Office of Violence Prevention to implement the Gun Violence Reduction Ordinance passed by Portland’s City Council in April of 2021.
This involved awarding $4.1 million in grants to community-based organizations supporting communities most impacted by gun violence, according to the report.
“These grants were awarded in phases between May 2021 and March 2022, with the last $600,000 awarded in March to five new and emerging organizations that had not previously received city grants. CSD also drafted a document outlining the city’s collective efforts (both policing and non-policing) to reduce gun violence over the last year,” CSD said.
Other highlights include the division securing $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for upstream services to reduce gun violence and awarding a contract to California Partnerships for Safe Communities to help the city better understand what is driving gun violence in Portland.
To read the full report, click here.