Tips for writing letters in support of Portland Street Response

  • State your name and your organization (or your neighborhood);
  • If relevant, share a little bit about your organization and your mission. Who do you serve? Or perhaps this is a time to write from the perspective of your neighborhood.

  • Why does the issue of non-police first response matter to you?
    -Is it because of the high arrests of unhoused people?
    -How legal entanglements drive people deeper into poverty, including creating barriers to housing and employment?
    -How the 911 system is bogged down with calls about non-criminal matters, including a so-called unwanted person call every 15 minutes?
    -How, as the Portland Police Bureau’s Strategic Insights Report showed, the public overwhelmingly distrusts police and is beleaguered by slow response time? 

  • Describe how the city needs to develop a Portland Street Response, a new system of first responders. Here are some possible areas to emphasize:
    – The plan proposes six teams of medics and peer support specialists with training in de-escalation who can respond with compassion to 911 calls about people struggling with homelessness and behavioral health crises. 
    -Not every crisis is a crime. We need to match the right first responder to the crisis.
    -The Portland Street Response is based on the 30-year-old CAHOOTS model in Eugene.
    -Based on discussions with Bureau of Emergency Communications, Street Roots estimates that six 24-hour-teams-of-two (a medic and a peer support specialist crisis worker) could meet our demand.
    -Portland Street Response needs to be a big effort. It’s only if people all across the city can recognize it can it be seen as an actual alternative.
    -We need to make this easy for residents of the city to feel the impact.
    -The teams must be highly trained in crisis response, and CAHOOTS can help with this training.

  • Do you have a personal story that matters to this issue?

  • Thank the Mayor and Commissioners for budgeting the pilot, and let them know this needs to be a city priority for full funding. 

  • Thank the Mayor and Commissioners for their time.

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