PSR launched in 2021 to help alleviate the number of calls the Portland Police Bureau and Portland Fire & Rescue responded to, specifically regarding mental health and behavioral health crises.
Nearly 98% of the 3,228 calls PSR responded to would have typically been directed to Portland police. The other 2% of calls would have been PF&R’s responsibility, according to the report.
The program logged a massive increase in calls during October of 2022, with nearly 20 times more calls than the October prior. There were 824 phone calls in October 2022 compared to 44 in October 2021, which represents a 1773% growth.
Since expanding the response team’s coverage to the entire city in March, the program has hired dozens of new employees to meet their growing workload. In November, the city said PSR’s service hours had also expanded and it had a goal of providing 24/7, citywide coverage by the end of the year.
“As Portland Street Response continues to grow, it will be vital to continue to evaluate and adapt to ensure our successful new first response option is the best it can be,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “I’m incredibly thankful to the Portland Street Response Team, Portland Fire & Rescue, and Portland State University for their work that has expanded PSR from a 4-person team in Lents to a nationally recognized, citywide 911 un-armed response option that will soon be operating 24/7 across all of Portland.”
Of the calls made in the last six months, PSR managed the majority of them without assistance from officials, with only 5.5% of the calls requiring either the help of police, fire crews or paramedics. The report notes that hospitalization was necessary in 1.9% of the situations PSR responded to, while 14 to 16% of PF&R calls and 40% of PPB calls required hospitalization.
PSU’s breakdown of calls indicate that 64.2% of them involved an individual experiencing homelessness and 64.4% of the individuals were suspected of mental health needs.
A 2-year evaluation report of the program is expected in summer 2023.