PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A large swath of I-84 eastbound was closed for hours Friday.
Officials reopened the highway from I-5 to 33rd Avenue at about 9:30 p.m. — more than 8 hours after it was closed.
The Portland Police Bureau said a person was undergoing a mental health crisis on the NE 12th Avenue overpass. The person was eventually taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation.
After the road re-opened, the Portland Police Bureau released this statement:
The incident involving the subject in crisis on the Northeast 12th Avenue overpass at I-84 has concluded. The subject came back over the railing, was taken into custody, and transported to a hospital for a mental health evaluation.
For over 8 hours, ECIT (Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team) officers communicated with the person and tried to get him to come to a place of safety so he may receive assistance for his mental health. The subject remained on the outside ledge of the Northeast 12th Avenue overpass threatening to jump down to the freeway below. During this event, the Bureau, with the assistance of the Oregon Department of Transportation, closed lanes of travel on I-84; eastbound I-84 traffic was the most significantly impacted.
The Portland Police Bureau recognizes that the protracted closure of a major interstate freeway through rush hour has a significant impact on motorists. One of the core missions of the Portland Police Bureau is to preserve life. At times like these when we are called to respond to a person in mental health crisis, we try to make the area as safe as possible. That way, specially trained officers can communicate with the person and try to get them help. That sometimes requires us to close roads to vehicles, both for the safety of the person but also for the safety of the general public traveling beneath. Whenever possible, we try to open lanes of traffic.
We’ve had inquiries as to why we do not just run up and pull the person down. This tactic is generally avoided, primarily for safety as it could cause the person to slip and fall, and because of concern that an officer or officers could be pulled over the side. But also, our ECIT officers work hard to build trust with the person in crisis. We do not want to violate that trust by rushing up without warning, potentially resulting in a catastrophic event. Even if the tactic were successful, we are concerned that the person would not trust us if they have police contact again in similar circumstances.
We appreciate the patience of motorists that were stuck in traffic during this incident, and we are grateful that it ended without anyone getting hurt.