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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 4, 2006 5:03 PM. The previous post in this blog was Busted for crime? Say how sick you are. The next post in this blog is Love story. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Killer cops as victims

The grand jury on the Chasse killing is adjourned until next week. Meanwhile, Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer has this for us:

"I ask that people be patient until we have the opportunity to provide this briefing and begin what I hope will be a broad-based discussion on not only the specifics of this incident, but also the issues that law enforcement and the community face in dealing with people who suffer from a mental illness.”
Oh, the poor, poor police and "the issues they face" when dealing with a mentally ill guy, unarmed, 5-foot-9, 145 pounds. Sometimes they have to beat the guy to death.

Oh, "the issues they face."

Comments (22)

Sizer sounds like she's gearing up for a no true bill from the grand jury.

Hopefully at least one good thing will come from this and it appears Sizer is angling for a broader look at how our community treats mentals. It would be hard to handle it worse.

Unfortunately these broader discussions frequently serve as political deflection from other, more difficult issues like changing an organization's culture or taking actions that draw heat from the police union.

But I fail to see how Sizer is asking for pity in her statement. Law enforcement and the community face issues with mentals. That's plain. Mocking them doesn't make them disappear. The community faces them more generally while law enforcement faces them more specifically.

Even good, sincere cops hate mental calls. Frequently there's nothing the cop can do to help the person and, though jail isn't a good option it at least takes the mental off the street for the night and means fewer citizens must deal with someone having an episode. It's extremely disheartening.

When I was a fresh Portland cop I spent an hour on a mental call--pissing off other cops who knew better--trying to find an organization or family member who would help a confused woman. Her family wanted nothing to do with her and no organization would take her in. The woman had pretty much forced her way into a couple apartments claiming she lived there. My best option for her was jail, though she didn't really belong there. I was literally tearing up when I tried to arrest her and she resisted me. The aboslute last thing I wanted to do was force her into cuffs but I did so and hated myself.

The fact that law enforcement faces issues with mentals doesn't diminish the horrors of Chasse's terrible death. It's an important and legitimate topic since cops are where the community's mental health resource rubber hits the road.

Story time if you will. Years ago when I worked downtown I was told the mental hospital in Salem would bus some of their people up to Portland to spend the day. This allowed the hospital to stay within its quota, or some such nonsence.
The cops have a tough job dealing with people like this and they do not get the training they need. That is the City Council's fault and needs to change, but the legislature has its responsiblities and they have ignored them. Of course it is more important to fund a football program.
In this case it certainly does seem that someone went overboard and a man is dead because of that. That person needs to held accountable for their actions, but the organizations responsible for training and oversight need to step up and do their jobs as well and they have not done so. The only way they will respond is if they get sued by some lawyer, who will then get blamed for costing the taxpayers money.
Unfortunately legacy project are more important than the basics.
I had a Chief in the service who used to tell us that people who don't shine the backs of their shoes don't have good personal hygienes (I cleaned it up).
He was right and it works the same with City governments. Its all about work habits.
###

Anahit (or any police officer): Take a look at today's editorial comment from Ms. Ford, the director of Cascadia.

Cascadia gets our tax money to deal with this stuff through Project Respond. Why are the police dealing with the mentally ill? Why don't they call Project Respond? I don't like the idea of paying for Cascadia to do this work AND paying the police to be bothered with the same thing.

If an obviously mentally ill person in downtown Portland is peeing on the sidewalk and acting strange, why can't the police give the guy a break, call Project Respond and not turn it into a violent take-down crime. Read the autopsy description of Mr. Chasse's grooming and hygiene and dress if you think an officer shouldn't be able to recognize the guy was chronically mentally ill.

The Sizer and Potter deflection to shift the topic to the sad situation for the mentally ill has ZERO to do with what happened that caused Mr. Chasse's injuries and death specifically. That is what must be made just and right. If no one in power has enough character to stand up for Mr. Chasse, why would anyone think they'd have the character to stand up for the faceless masses of Oregon's chronically mentally ill?

Anybody briefly travelling through downtown knows the state and county are doing nothing to really provide for the mentally ill. We don't think this is a POLICE problem. We don't ask you to collect these people and stick them in jail. That's stupid. They belong in hospitals. Why do you do this? Is it that the business owners demand it of you? What does that make of you?

As long as the police keep sweeping the chronically mentally ill off the streets and into the jail, the public isn't going to get the message: They need to demand that their politicians do something effective about the real problem or move over and let someone else do it.

Bob, Project Respond is currently very limited in its ability to help police on mental calls. Cops get many, many mental calls everyday. Project Respond can't respond to every one.

Moreover, since Portland has limited its police to a triage unit, cops don't have time to wait around for Project Respond. Project Respond's current situation makes them unhelpful to police. In fact, Project Respond calls police to accompany them on routine visits with potentially violent clients.

It's often hard to just "give a guy a break". It depends on the circumstances. A guy whizzing on the sidewalk might be given a break but when he runs and forces a chase (even if the chase is completely uneventful), he's heading to jail.

The community DOES ask police to put mentals in jail. When there are no better alternatives, that's what happens. Even Portland hospitals don't want mentals. They're not equipped for them long-term and even short-term they're very difficult and expensive to treat while exposing hospitals to substantial liability.

Would it have been better if I let that woman I described continue trying to get into various apartments? What happens when she tries to force her way into the wrong apartment and someone shoots her? She didn't belong on the street at that time, I couldn't get a police hold on her and only jail was left. Long-term problem, short-term solution.

I don't know what you're getting at by asking, "What does that make of you?" so I'll answer it plainly--it means I was doing an uncaring community's dirty work at the expense of my own psyche.

If you're genuinely curious about the situation, go for a ride-along with a Central Precinct cop who works downtown. Go on day shift and you'll have the highest chance to see mental calls, but you'll have to temporarily subjugate your dislike for police if you want to get anything out of it.

anahit -- thanks for the info about project respond. it's true, they're great, but there are only a few of them on duty at any given moment and they also require police accompaniment on dangerous calls.

and as far as all that taxpayer money woodburn bob mentions, the money that goes to cascadia -- project respond is only one of many, many cascadia operated mental health treatment programs and that taxpayer money has gotten slimmer and slimmer over the years. i've been working in community mental health for five and a half years now and i have watched our budget (and the budget of the oregon health plan) shrink exponentially (if it's possible to *shrink* exponentially).

when i started this work, ohp was phenomenal, a renowned success. then came cut after cut as fewer and fewer people qualified and fewer and fewer services were covered. which services were the first to go? mental health and substance abuse. this directly puts the "problem" of mental illness and substance abuse on the cops, "where the rubber hits the road", and in the emergency rooms.

people -- we are paying for these "problems" one way or another and i can promise you, it's much cheaper to pay for them preventatively via great ohp coverage, than retroactively by making the cops and emergency rooms "do the dirty work."

Maybe it's time for a public/private partnership with OHSU to build a mental health clinic for (oh, I dunno) maybe $58 million. Maybe they could even find some space where a nanotech lab was once envisioned.

OHSU is still interested in public health, not just public subsidies, right?

Assuming that still leaves plenty of room for condos, of course.

Blaming either the police or the mental health care system? Take it one step futher, and understand that community care for people with mental illnesses (get that, people with mental illnesses, not "mentals") is woefully inadequate because the people of Oregon have chosen to fund prisons over community treatment facilities. And society in general has chosen not to house people with chronic mental illnesses in institutions. The current problems were predicted when Dammasch closed. Many people with mental illnesses have died on the streets since then. Most of the deaths go unnoticed.

Cascadia, the Counties, and the rest of the providers of mental health care don't get enough money from the state to help all the people in need. And that is partly due to voters passing initiatives with unfunded mandates and/or tax cuts. Prepare for more mentally ill people dying on the streets if Measures 41 and 48 pass, further cutting the state budget and reducing the amount spent on health services.

There certainly needs to be a full investigation in every case of alleged neglect or malpractice. Everyone should be aware, though, that every week police officers take dozens of mentally ill people to hospitals, sometimes driving them around for hours in search of an acute care facility with an open bed. It's very rare that someone is brought in by the police and talks of being disrespected or ill-treated.

It's "woefully inadequate" because the leaders of Oregon chose to waste resources.

The State decided to close Dammache.

They couldn't prioritize.

Why didn't they decide to close OLCC instead?
Or fifty other lower prioty cuts I could list.

Why are our school yards the only public agency without landcscape maintenance?

M11 mandatory sentencing has been incredibly successful by any measurement.

Yet today, opponents would roll back those minimums and promote spending on new programs without any squams or accountabiliy for whether or not they work.

Just as 15 years of CIMCAM fraud and failure was perpetrated upon our K-12 public school system.
Hundreds of millions and countless classroom, student and teacher hours bled from our schools with NOTHING to show for it but the lingering BS fabricated by the liars.
And today not a single lying pig CIMCAM perpetrater is facing any consequences at all.
In fact the same people are starting all with the same rhetoric calling for high standards and accountability in our schools.

What a screwed up State.

every week police officers take dozens of mentally ill people to hospitals, sometimes driving them around for hours in search of an acute care facility with an open bed. It's very rare that someone is brought in by the police and talks of being disrespected or ill-treated.

All very interesting, but right now we are investigating charges of police brutality. We are deciding whether the police officers involved should go to jail, or be removed from the force. We are trying to account for the loss of a human life.

When all that's finished, we can talk about "the system."

All very interesting, but right now we are investigating charges of police brutality. We are deciding whether the police officers involved should go to jail, or be removed from the force. We are trying to account for the loss of a human life.

When all that's finished, we can talk about "the system."
With all due respect, it doesn't seem like you and others here have much interest in investigating or accounting anything. It seems like you've already decided. The discussions here regarding this have very much taken on a mob mentality. I am not defending the police at all here, but I also do not believe in raising judgement when I do not have ALL of the facts; only what the papers have reported and that's hardly enough.

when I do not have ALL of the facts;
only what the papers have reported and that's hardly enough.

Well, I guess you'll never have an opinion, then, because the grand jury proceedings are secret. The commenters here have formed their opinions based on the many, many undisputed facts that are known, including the complete autopsy transcript. When the police decide what their story is and if they decide to let us have it, maybe we'll change our views. So far there is NO exculpatory evidence in this case. None. Zero.

Amanda Fritz: Prepare for more mentally ill people dying on the streets if Measures 41 and 48 pass, further cutting the state budget and reducing the amount spent on health services.
JK: Much of what you said is right on. But why does Portland have $½ -1 BILLION to spend on Homer’s holes in the SoWhat, yuppie playgrounds, with toy trains, in the Pearl and no money for the needy?

The answer is a mad rush to the planning religion of smart growth. The death of the mentally ill is just road kill on the way to creating a planner’s new society. A few deaths is just one of many prices to be paid for diverting massive dollars into the smart growth social experiment. Other costs are low income people being driven out of Portland, massive traffic congestion and increased pollution. But it doesn’t matter because we are creating a national model of how all people should live.

Think of how much good ONE BILLION DOLLARS could do if it went somewhere besides to millionaire condos in Homer’s hole.

Portland is being destroyed by the planner’s dogma.

Thanks
JK

You have a point there, JK; although I would say the yuppification of Portland is more about dogma than about planning. I think back to 2000 when people gentrifying the Sunnyside neighborhood tried to shut down the meals program at Sunnyside Methodist Church: lots of churches in town got together to protest. I watched the hearing from a remote screen in the Portland Building. A consultant for the church made it clear that drunk and disorderly complaints actually DECLINED in the neighborhood since the program went into effect. The lawyer (for the church) who was trying to force "settlement" couldn't pretend there was causation anymore. He went off to Oxford or some high falutin place; the hearings officer to Thailand. It really HAS been a war on these poor souls.

One thing I dont understand...where was Chasse's family before things came to this point? All this blame for the state & funding. If Chasse's family can come up with a private investigator and a lawyer to sue the PPB, you would think maybe they could have helped the guy out while he was on the street?
Maybe things would have turned out differently.

As for the cops involved...16 broken ribs and internal bleeding? Someone needs to go to jail.

And another thing...what paramedics were called to this incident? Because if they cant find 16 broken ribs, I want a different company called when I have an accident.

Anahit, thanks a lot for your sound, candid and realistic comments. I pretty much knew Project Respond was a kind of token operation in the scope of things, which to me makes Ms. Ford's editorial comments a little hollow, if not duplicitous. You made it clear that Cascadia actually consumes more police time than they save.

I don't really dislike police officers on a personal level and I'm quite interested in the idea of ride-alongs. How exactly would I go about applying to do that?

Which icy cold inhumane Republican decided to close Dammasch?

Ooops.

Bob, just to clarify, I'm not sure Cascadia consumes more police time than they save. I just know that when Cascadia and police work together it's more often at Cascadia's prompting.

For a ride-along at Central Precinct, just call the general Central number (823-0097) and they'll route you. I frankly wouldn't tell whom you speak with--probably a sergeant--that you're really interested in how police handle mental calls.

Instead, after getting to know your ride-along cop a little, ask about mental calls and resources and mention you're really intrigued at how police fit into the picture. If you're lucky the cop might even take those calls despite not being his, just to give you a feel for it.

"you made it clear cascadia actually consumes more police time than they save."

project respond (cascadia) doesn't exist to save police time, it exists to engage mentally ill people on the streets and help them find appropriate services. it consists of teams of two, almost all women, who are often on foot with only a rain jacket and a cell phone. they engage lots and lots of people all by themselves and only bring cops along when they believe the person they're trying to engage will be dangerous. they do the talking and the cops are there for backup. the people on project respond obviously aren't police themselves, have no authority to put their hands on the people they engage (unlike the police) and don't have handcuffs or cop cars, which are usually essential when a person is being taken to the hospital on a hold (which is the most extreme intervention and certainly isn't the only thing p.r. tends to offer the people they engage). p.r. has a symbiotic relationship with the cops and maybe we should ask some cops to see if they feel p.r. is a waste of time.

Which icy cold inhumane Republican decided to close Dammasch?

Who is John Galt?

In a nutshell, history says everybody did.

The Community Mental Health Movement of the '50s, '60s, and 70's was society's reaction to decades of abuses in some state hospitals. The movement became the law of the land via the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. State hospitals began being razed and state governments began counting extra money ... while winking at those asking when the money would be flowing to the communities.

Once asylums of last resort (a so-called "safety net" for the chronically mentally ill), state hospitals disappeared and the mentally ill gravitated to urban door-fronts and slums, ie., the West Burnside strip.

Oregon's governors and legislatures, acting through the brain trust at the Oregon Mental Health Division, carried out the implementation of all this from the early '80s through to the present.

Who closed Dammasch? Some would say two generations of Oregon politicians and bureaucrats closed Dammasch.

But the fundamental blame depends one whether you believe Oregon's politicians and bureaucrats lead voters or vice versa.

All very interesting, but right now we are investigating charges of police brutality.

Right. I just wanted folks to know that whether or not misconduct was the direct cause of this death, in my 20 years of experience in doing admission assessments with mentally ill people brought in by the police, reports or signs of mistreatment are very rare.

Jon, the letter from James Chasse's aunt printed in The Oregonian states the family was there for him all along. One of the tragedies of mental illness is that it makes those afflicted unable to make wise decisions, which sometimes includes refusing to accept help even from relatives.

Those who are truly concerned about investigations of complaints about the police can do something about it, today. Call or email the City Councilmen asking them to do the review of the Independent Police Review (IPR) Commission and Citizen Review Committee (CRC) that was funded in the 2005 budget but has not been done. The IPR and CRC were established in 2001 with a promise to review their effectiveness after one year, but despite the fact that the funding is there, the evaluation has not been done. Call/email today to ask that the $60,000 budgeted for the purpose be used immediately.

Thanks for the discussion about resources and possible solutions.. I am putting this out here in hopes that maybe it would help better understand Jim Jim..

I have been both a consumer of mental health services and a provider of services to *at risk* populations.

I knew Jim Jim when he and I were two of the youngest kids in the original Portland Punk scene.. Jim Jim didnt deserve to die such a horrible death. Every time I read the autopsy reports it makes me cry. I can't imagine his suffering or what he felt as he lay there at their feet, bound and dying.

I can't imagine how scared he was when the police came after him. He was already outside of society, living in a world in his own mind, paranoid and distrustful of the *government.* We saw the beginnings of this when he was younger, but some of us lost track of him over the years..
ppl tried to visit him when he was hospitalized and were told they couldnt see him.. I dont think his family realized because Punk was so freakish back then, that he had a caring community around him then who accepted him as he was and truly cared about him...But you can see from the postings people have written who did know him, that he was someone special. Jim Jim himself spoke to ppl over the years about how his illness isolated him from ppl....

I imagine when he saw the police coming after him, all those fears and delusions he had experienced over the years of them being out to get him, suddenly seemed real. He was probably terrified at that point.

His family tried to help him, he may not have been able to communicate his own inner pain to his family, I have a hell of a time talking to mine about my own struggles with mental illness.

I wish the police had at least tried to contact Project Respond when they noticed his odd behavior and his response to them, even if PRs resources are limited.. perhaps Jim Jim would be alive today, perhaps he would have responded to two women trying to engage him and de-escalate the situation as opposed to 3 officers who scared and fought him.

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Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 377
At this date last year: 237
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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