PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In recent few weeks, there has been a series of disturbing cases involving suspects with mental health issues.
City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez told KOIN 6 of the city’s drug addiction crisis that’s contributed to skyrocketing crime, that’s top of mind for him as the state legislative session kicks off in just a few days.
Gonzalez said he was part of a delegation of Portland leaders who met with state lawmakers on Thursday. He told KOIN 6 News he was pleasantly surprised to learn how aligned leaders are on the issues that need to be addressed.
When it comes to Measure 110, the law passed by Oregon voters in 2020 that decriminalized hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin and meth, Gonzalez said leaders are in agreement that the money for treatment centers that was outlined in Measure 110 needs to be rolled out quickly and effectively however, he said leaders at the meeting were less inclined to talk about other potential consequences of the measure.
“I was kind of an outlier in the room because I continued to ask about some of the unintended consequences of Measure 110,” Gonzalez said. “Is it attracting certain organized crime elements to the city of Portland? It is attracting some migratory elements to the city of Portland that are looking for a place to camp and do hard drugs.”
On Friday, KOIN 6 spoke to a senator from Lake Oswego, Ron Wagner, who just took the reigns as Oregon’s senate president.
When it comes to the addiction crisis, he stressed the need for more prevention work and said another essential element is finding more folks who want to work in mental health & addiction services.
That’s a difficult task though, given the fact that many of those jobs are high-stress with low pay.
“I think you have to be creative a little bit and then we need to talk about investments in our workforce, making sure that people know that these jobs exist and trying to uplevel them,” said Wagner. “There’s an incredible opportunity for people to do amazing work, to work with people in this space.”
According to Wagner, there needs to be a greater focus on putting drug traffickers behind bars.
“I think it’s also appropriate that we start talking about drug interdiction and if there are people trafficking drugs into our state we need to be going at them hard.”