Portland Police to assume new policy on encounters with mentally ill suspects

Portland PolicePortland, Oregon — Following a string of incidents wherein suspects suffering from unstable mental health conditions were either shot or killed by police officers, the Portland Police Department decided to adopt a new policy on police encounters with mentally unstable suspects.

Unnecessary shootings of suspects who were in unstable mental health conditions were blamed squarely on the police officers’ lack of training or skill to detect mental instability in suspects.

In light of this, Portland police decided to adopt the new policy which requires police officers to back off when confronted with a situation involving mentally unstable suspects. They are then required to re-assess the situation and seek the assistance of a supervisor or an Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team (ECIT) member.

According to the new Portland police policy:

“Non-engagement or disengagement are tactics that can be used if the member determines that contact or continued contact with the person will result in an undue safety risk to the person, the public and/or members.”

“A police report will be written documenting the following: details of the call; reasons for non-engagement or disengagement; actions taken to deescalate the situation; actions taken to promote safety; follow up plans and referrals made, and whether the address is flagged.”

The new policy comes after a federal judge approved a negotiated settlement between Portland and the US Department of Justice that required changes and adjustments to Portland’s police training, oversight, and policies.

Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta

Source: Maxine Bernstein on the Oregon Live website: Portland Police Bureau drafts new policy on responding to mental health crises