PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizerpresenteda plan drafted with city leaders aimed at improving interactions between police officers and the mentally ill.

The plan calls for several immediate policy implementations in order to better equip police in responses involving people who may be clinically depressed, emotionally unstable or otherwise suffer from a temporary or debilitating mental illness.

Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman, the civilian police bureau administrator, helped draft the new guidelines.

The police are often the system of last resort, he said, explaining why it's not in the public's interest for his officers to serve double duty. Our police officers are playing an ever increasing role in the management of persons who are experiencing mental crisis.

Ideas for changing Police Bureau policy in responses involving the mentally ill can be traced back to older cases, most notably the in-custody death of schizophrenic James Chasse in 2006.

Saltzman says the current approach is failing.

Quite frankly, the police are often the system of last resort for people who fall through the cracks of the mental health system.

The president of the Portland Police union told KGW that cityleaders were dangerously overestimating the impact a social worker has on potentially violent, disturbed citizens.

That they can say these magical words and have the person stop ... what happens when one of these mental health workers gets assaulted? Sgt. Scott Westerman said.

Sizer and other officals say they're willing to give the changes a try.

KGW Reporter Randy Neves contributed to this report.

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