PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Volunteers with Portland Street Response, the city program that assists those in mental health crisis, dropped off a petition to expand the organization with more than 10,000 signatures.
The petition delivered to City Hall on Wednesday includes signatures from 23 current and former elected officials; 18 community leaders; and 68 businesses, nonprofits, unions and faith institutions.
The group Friends of Portland Street Response spearheaded the effort, saying the city doesn’t have any new positions posted for the team, which began its operation in 2020. They’ve also asked Portland to expand PSR to meet citywide demand 24/7.
According to the petition, these expansions include:
- Ending the hiring freeze imposed on Portland Street Response and adequately funding PSR to meet citywide demand, 24/7, as promised by City Council
- Removing restrictions on the purchase of life-saving supplies used to provide services, build community trust, and de-escalate 911 calls.
- Allowing Portland Street Response to respond to more 911 call types, such as appropriate calls inside residences or involving a potential suicide attempt.
- Keeping Portland Street Response out of enforcement activities.
- Establishing Portland Street Response as a co-equal branch of our first responder network located within a supportive environment in Portland city government.
City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez told KOIN 6 the city needs to take a measured response.
“We just got to make sure the program that grew so fast out of the gate, can scale effectively — and that’s what we’re doing,” Gonzalez said. “We have a new lead of community health, we have more ties into fires, medical and training teams. And we think that’s going to be good for the future of the program.”