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An effective alternative to police   The Newsy You: News of Today

Started Jul-5 by MerlinsDad; 76 views.

From: MerlinsDad


With the recent interest in defunding the police, here's one solution for dealing with homelessness, mental health, and other non-enforcement related issues that's been working for 30 years.

Around 30 years ago, a town in Oregon retrofitted an old van, staffed it with young medics and mental health counselors and sent them out to respond to the kinds of 911 calls that wouldn't necessarily require police intervention.  It's a lengthy article, but it shows that there are alternative solutions to police.

In the town of 172,000, they were the first responders for mental health crises, homelessness, substance abuse, threats of suicide -- the problems for which there are no easy fixes. The problems that, in the hands of police, have often turned violent.
Today, the program, called CAHOOTS, has three vans, more than double the number of staffers and the attention of a country in crisis.
CAHOOTS is already doing what police reform advocates say is necessary to fundamentally change the US criminal justice system -- pass off some responsibilities to unarmed civilians.

From: Showtalk


That could work, although I’m not sure about viability in big cities.  Are they paid or volunteers?  Who oversees them?  How well do the interact with police when necessary? Has anyone been in a dangerous situation and what would happen if a situation turned violent and they are unequipped for it?


From: MerlinsDad


The answers to most of your questions are in the article.  I highly recommend reading the article.  It's very interesting and does point to an effective alternative to police in certain situations, those police are actually not trained to handle.  It expands on your questions more than I can in this brief space.

"Police encounters with the homeless often end in citations or arrests. Of homeless people with mental health conditions, anywhere from 62.0% to 90% of them will be arrested, per one journal review of homelessness studies. They may end up in jail, not in treatment or housing, and thus begins the cycle of incarceration that doesn't benefit either party."

showtalk says:  " I’m not sure about viability in big cities" 

"White Bird Clinic and CAHOOTS coordinators can't go into other communities and set up copies of CAHOOTS. What works in Eugene wouldn't work in New York, or in Miami, or in larger cities more diverse than Eugene (less than 2% of the population is Black, according to census data). "

showtalk says:  " Are they paid or volunteers?"

I gather it's a combination.  "The program started small, with a van Zeiss called a "junker," some passionate paraprofessionals and just enough funding to staff CAHOOTS 40 hours a week.  It always paired one medic, usually a nurse or EMT, with a crisis responder trained in behavioral health. That holistic approach is core to its model." 

showtalk says:  "Who oversees them? "

"CAHOOTS comes from White Bird Clinic, a social services center that's operated in Eugene since the late 1960s. It was the brainchild of some counterculture activists who'd felt the hole where a community health center should be. And in 1989, after 20 years of earning the community's trust, CAHOOTS was created." 

Probably the Executive Director of White Bird Clinic. 

showtalk says: "How well do the interact with police when necessary?"

The police chief refers to it as a "'symbiotic relationship' that better serves some residents of Eugene."

showtalk says:  "Has anyone been in a dangerous situation and what would happen if a situation turned violent and they are unequipped for it?"

"They can call police or EMS for assistance if the case requires a "higher level of care" than CAHOOTS can provide, he said. But much of it they can do on their own. They can transport clients to hospitals, shelters or White Bird Clinic, where they'll have access to medical and dental care and counseling. "


From: Showtalk


I read the article and didn’t see exact answers to all my questions but I see how your interpretation answers them.