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What Happened to James Chasse: Mayor proposes day center for mentally il

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mayor proposes day center for mentally il

from Portland Mayor Tom Potter said Tuesday that the James Chasse case points to the bigger problem of mentally ill people falling through the cracks.

Potter said perhaps police shouldn't be the ones handling them and that it was time to start curbing mental illness on Portland's streets.

Chasse died in police custody after a scuffle last month, a grand jury is now weighing charges against three officers.

Potter’s first idea was to open a day center for what he called under-served mentally ill people.

Right now about 60 percent of Portland's homeless are considered mentally ill, the mayor said.

Union Gospel Mission thinks it's even higher -- around 75-80 percent.

Potter said years of funding cuts in social services forced police into an inappropriate role.

“There's a lot of folks out there who need help who aren't getting that help and we need to find a means by which to make that happen because I don't think it's fair to the police to have them as the last resort for handling these folks,” he said.

Earlier this year Potter said he saw first-hand how great the need is when about 1,000 people packed the Memorial Coliseum seeking volunteer health services.. and job and housing advice.

Potter said besides the day center, he wanted to look for funding to for a permanent place.

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