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Community Safety Without Police: Interview with CAHOOTS / White Bird coordinator Tim Black
by John Malkin
Thursday Jul 2nd, 2020 10:58 PM
Interview with Tim Black, operations coordinator at CAHOOTS / White Bird Clinic in Eugene, Oregon discussing 30 years of community-based safety and security instead of policing.
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Interview with Tim Black, operations coordinator at CAHOOTS / White Bird Clinic in Eugene, Oregon. This interview was originally broadcast on "Transformation Highway" on KZSC 88.1 FM in Santa Cruz, California on July 2, 2020. From the CAHOOTS website:

CAHOOTS
Eugene: 541-682-5111 / Springfield: 541-726-3714

CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) provides mobile crisis intervention 24/7 in the Eugene-Springfield Metro area. CAHOOTS is dispatched through the Eugene police-fire-ambulance communications center, and within the Springfield urban growth boundary, dispatched through the Springfield non-emergency number. Each team consists of a medic (either a nurse or an EMT) & a crisis worker (who has at least several years experience in the mental health field). CAHOOTS provides immediate stabilization in case of urgent medical need or psychological crisis, assessment, information, referral, advocacy & (in some cases) transportation to the next step in treatment. CAHOOTS offers a broad range of services, including but not limited to:
Crisis Counseling
Suicide Prevention, Assessment, and Intervention
Conflict Resolution and Mediation
Grief and loss
Substance Abuse
Housing Crisis
First Aid and Non-Emergency Medical Care
Resource Connection and Referrals
Transportation to Services

NOTE: Any person who reports a crime in progress, violence, or a life-threatening emergency may receive a response from the police or emergency medical services instead of or in addition to CAHOOTS.

JUNE 29, 2020
What is CAHOOTS?
31 years ago the City of Eugene, Oregon developed an innovative community-based public safety system to provide mental health first response for crises involving mental illness, homelessness, and addiction. White Bird Clinic launched CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) as a community policing initiative in 1989.

The CAHOOTS model has been in the spotlight recently as our nation struggles to reimagine public safety. The program mobilizes two-person teams consisting of a medic (a nurse, paramedic, or EMT) and a crisis worker who has substantial training and experience in the mental health field. The CAHOOTS teams deal with a wide range of mental health-related crises, including conflict resolution, welfare checks, substance abuse, suicide threats, and more, relying on trauma-informed de-escalation and harm reduction techniques. CAHOOTS staff are not law enforcement officers and do not carry weapons; their training and experience are the tools they use to ensure a non-violent resolution of crisis situations. They also handle non-emergent medical issues, avoiding costly ambulance transport and emergency room treatment.

A November 2016 study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine estimated that 20% to 50% of fatal encounters with law enforcement involved an individual with a mental illness. The CAHOOTS model demonstrates that these fatal encounters are not inevitable. Last year, out of a total of roughly 24,000 CAHOOTS calls, police backup was requested only 150 times.

The cost savings are considerable. The CAHOOTS program budget is about $2.1 million annually, while the combined annual budgets for the Eugene and Springfield police departments are $90 million. In 2017, the CAHOOTS teams answered 17% of the Eugene Police Department’s overall call volume. The program saves the city of Eugene an estimated $8.5 million in public safety spending annually.
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