PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Street Response may soon be expanding, allowing for citywide, round-the-clock operation for the first time ever.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler says he will propose an expansion of the program as part of his full list of proposed investments for the city’s annual budget, which he will be announcing next week. However, he said this PSR announcement “just can’t wait.”
Wheeler says he wants to expand PSR’s staffing to three times its original size, which will allow 24/7 coverage across the city.
This decision follows a recently released one-year evaulation report by Portland State University, which gave the program high marks. The study concluded the Portland Street Response should expand “to make its services available throughout the city and at all hours of the day.”
The study also found it lightened the load from the Portland Police Bureau and Portland Fire & Rescue — and is seeing a gradual but growing acceptance by both the public and first responders.
“Portland Street Response is not only effective, but a new best-practice in community safety —and recently reported data backs me up,” Wheeler stated on Wednesday. “I am proud to announce my full support in advancing this program in the upcoming annual budget to help more Portlanders in need.”
The program was an initiative pushed for and created by Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in 2021. The PSR units are made up of non-police city workers to divert non-emergency calls from Portland’s first responders.
“I want to thank Commissioner Hardesty for her continued hard work on this endeavor,” Wheeler said. “I look forward to proposing this next week, along with many other initiatives that address the most immediate problems facing Portlanders today.”
Portland Street Response launched February 16, 2021 in the Lents neighborhood. On November 4, 2021, it expanded to cover the entire PPB East Precinct. PSR is dispatched to a scene by the Bureau of Emergency Communications.