Tag Archives: Jason Renaud

That’s what she said — a look back on some notable quotables from Street Roots interviews in 2010

What’s more important — losing the lawsuit, or saving someone’s life down the road? And their reaction, historically, is always the same: Let’s worry about the lawsuit and not worry about public safety. Not only is it short-sighted, it’s just wrong. That’s not what the community wants. This is what the Police Bureau wants, the lawyers, the politicians. And it’s so short term, the gain, to try to avoid a bad result in a lawsuit. They didn’t avoid, from their point of view, a bad result in the Chasse lawsuit by keeping the truth away from the public and by not disciplining the officers. That’s not what public safety should be about.”

—   Tom Steenson, Attorney for the Chasse family, “Chasse’s champion,” November 12. Continue reading

Matters of life or death

Mental health activist Jason Renaud weighs in on the latest shooting by police of unarmed citizens in crisis

By Israel Bayer
Staff Writer

Jason Renaud had been an advocate for the rights of people with addiction and mental illness for more than a decade when a 42-year-old named James Chasse was killed at the hands of police officers in 2006. Chasse, who lived with schizophrenia, had been a friend of Renaud’s, and Chasse’s death went beyond the personal tragedy. It brought Renaud’s work with the Mental Health Association of Portland, which he co-founded, into even greater focus toward addressing the actions and oversight of police officers, particularly as they interface with people experiencing mental illness. A police review found that the officers acted within policy. Chasse’s death is now the subject of a federal civil lawsuit brought by Chasse’s family.

Today, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Aaron Campbell and a grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer who shot him, Renaud is watching a familiar and tragic scenario repeat itself. Last year he declared his candicacy to run against Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Police Chief Rosie Sizer has announced some changes in police policy as a result of Campbell’s death, including bringing mental health workers along on crisis calls, and buying ballistic shields to protect officers when approaching people.

But neither of those efforts address officers’ behavior, how they coordinate their approach to people in crisis and how they’re trained to deal with these situations to ensure that someone doesn’t end up dead.

Israel Bayer: So let’s start with training. With every shooting in the past, regardless of which talking head, the message has basically been, it’s about the training. If you want us to do something different, train us different. So…

Jason Renaud: My problem is that with the training right now is that once a weapon has been seen or reported by a police officer, it’s likely at that point that someone is going to get hurt. That means the officer is trained to take action prior to the weapon being actually produced. It’s alarming because in many cases it’s a preemptive strike.

Continue reading

Mental Health Association of Portland new column in Street Roots: Compassion, good guidance, the bedrock of new center

mhaplogo-1From the August 7 edition of Street Roots.

On July 2 the Multnomah County Commission voted to fund and build a new facility to help persons who are acutely mentally ill.

In 2001, during a generational redesign of Multnomah County’s mental health system, a variety of providers, former patients, referring agencies, community members, and independent clinicians decided to close a similar facility — the Crisis Triage Center, or CTC.

The CTC was a 24-hour psychiatric clinic attached to Providence Hospital, which planned to provide immediate treatment for anyone. It specialized in being a third choice for police, the first two being doing nothing or making an arrest. The CTC started unpredictably and badly with the tragic death of Emily Comeaux, a person with needs beyond the comprehension of the CTC staff.

Prospective patients, sick and in crisis, who were coached to seek services at the CTC regularly waited hours before seeing a clinician. Sick children were kept in the same waiting room as adult patients. The cost of care was high and rising. Some patients and clinicians chronically overused the CTC, clogging the service for others.  Patients were put on psychiatric holds unnecessarily, given the wrong medicine, or complained their concerns were dismissed.

After some public debate and critical events, such as the death of Jose Mejia Poot, Providence Hospital and Multnomah County, both pointing fingers at each other, quit the contract and closed the CTC.

A re-design was proposed. The newly formed Cascadia would operate five walk in clinics which would be open 24 hours, staffed with able-bodied clinicians, and located in all five quadrants of the city. Anyone could walk in and get help in a few minutes. The costs would be lower because the clinics were uncoupled from a hospital.

The clinics opened with much media fanfare, but within a few weeks, bureaucrats were thinking of how to save money. If services could be reduced, costs could be cut. Cascadia closed one clinic after another, leaving eventually only one that was not open 24 hours, and services were only available to certain people.

The closure of the CTC added a hard-to-measure burden on a variety of services and individuals which had no coordinated way of comparing experience and recognizing an additional set of responsibilities. We’d estimate the cost of not having this service is in the tens of millions of dollars per year.

So we applaud that the county leadership recognizes this new facility is an important component of the continuum of county services. Continue reading