PORTLAND – A federal investigation has concluded the Portland Police Bureau has a pattern of excessive use of force, and a mental health advocate told KGW the findings should be seen as a positive step.
But he said the agreement between the Dept. of Justice and the bureau lacks the teeth to effect significant change.
Chris O'Conner is a local attorney and board member of the Mental Health Association of Portland.
He agrees with the conclusion that there is a lack of infrastructure to deal with people suffering from mental issues. But he does not agree that the suggested policy changes laid out Thursday--like expanding the city's mobile crisis team--will reduce excessive use of force cases involving the mentally ill.
“At the end of the day, there’s still no power in the hands of civilians,” O’Conner said, “to remove dangerous officers or discipline in a meaningful way, those who are violating their own policies,”
O'Conner believes local governments need to redirect resources to provide mental health services up front, instead of arresting and incarcerating people suffering from them.