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Policing the Mentally Ill


How do we ensure that the inevitable interactions between law enforcement and the mentally ill are as positive as possible?

In September of 2006, a schizophrenic man named James Chasse died in police custody, sending shockwaves throughout Portland and the state. At the time, Mayor Potter promised an overhaul of the system that failed Chasse.

A year and a half later, the Mental Health Association of Portland is working on a documentary to make sure we never forget James Chasse, and Portland police are well into a training program designed to help avoid any repeat incidents. The Crisis Intervention Training program, which used to be voluntary, is now required for all current officers and a new law this year made this sort of training mandatory for all new police officers statewide.

Is this enough? What else needs to be done to ensure the inevitable interactions between law enforcement and the mentally ill are as positive as possible?

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