PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Every day, if not multiple times a day, Portland police say they navigate situations like one Tuesday morning when a man was running through traffic on I-5 with cars whizzing by.
“We respond to someone in mental health crisis every day,” Sgt. Brad Yakots said. “It wasn’t like he was passing. He was going back and forth, running around, not coming to the officers that are trying to help him.”
Officers quickly blocked traffic with their patrol cars.
“It can be a bit confusing. You have traffic, people going to work, people trying to safely maneuver the I-5 to either try and get the person off, to try and negotiate with them,” Yakots said.
The widespread chase caused serious delays during the morning commute on I-5 and I-405 around 7 a.m. Police said they realize there’s a balance with thousands of people trying to get to work and school.
“We also want people to realize that’s a human being on the highway,” Yakots said. “That’s somebody’s loved one — so we’re trying to make that balance work.”
Yakots said police try to use de-escalation techniques with distressed people.
“You don’t know what’s going through people’s mind and why they might be doing what they’re doing,” Yakots said. “Unfortunately, this person was suffering from some sort of a mental health crisis — officers are trained to recognize that.”
Officers were able to resolve the situation on Tuesday within 20 minutes. They got the man off the highway and onto Southeast Macadam Avenue. He was taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
“Not criminalizing mental health, not putting someone in handcuffs,” Yakots said.
Police said the man is receiving treatment while on a mental health hold.