Second 'Intervention' Van Funded

Article excerpt

Byline: Jack Moran The Register-Guard

You see a man on a Eugene street corner, standing in the rain and talking to himself. Although he's not threatening anyone, he's obviously disoriented and in need of help.

You call police to report what you've seen. Minutes later, that help arrives - not in a patrol car, but in a van occupied by a mental health crisis worker and a medic. They speak with the man, then drive him to see a doctor.

"We usually stay pretty busy," said David Zeiss, who coordinates the so-called "mobile intervention" program known as CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets). The city-funded program launched in Eugene in 1989 and is operated through White Bird Clinic, a local social services agency.

A sharp increase in calls involving people who are overly intoxicated or disturbed, but not a good candidate for a jail cell, has prompted the city to double its annual contract with CAHOOTS to $566,000. The new deal put a second van on the streets starting last week.

Police say the expanded arrangement makes sense on a number of levels.

"It's about using the right resource for the job (and) providing a higher level of care," Eugene police Lt. Doug Mozan said.

It's also about allowing police to do the job they do best. Mozan expects that by increasing the availability of CAHOOTS workers, patrol officers will be freed up to focus on criminal issues.

That became a big issue for Eugene police last year, when their response to "noncriminal holds" involving mentally ill and intoxicated people rose 47 percent from 2009. …