Portland city commissioners approved funding Wednesday to train police officers to deal more sensitively with mentally ill people. The $250,000 is a fraction of the city money available thanks to higher-than-expected tax collections.
The training became a city council priority after a mentally ill man died in police custody this fall.
Steve Weiss is an advocate for the disabled. He says the training may be meant to avoid another death like James Chasse's, but he says police should use the techniques for anyone they think is behaving erratically.
Steve Weiss: "Crisis intervention training techniques must also be utilized for all those suspected to be on drugs or drunk. To put it another way: If drugs or alcohol had been found in James Chasse junior's system, would that have justified what happened to him after he was arrested? We don't think so."
The council vote on the nearly $11 million supplemental budget included a bureaucratic shuffle of more than 120 employees. Supportive commissioners say it will improve how the city serves Portland's water customers.