PORTLAND, Oregon (KOIN) — In recent weeks, there have been a series of disturbing incidents involving suspects with mental health problems in Multnomah County.
City of Portland Commissioner Rene Gonzalez told KOIN 6 yesterday that the combination of mental health and crime is his top priority as the legislative session begins in a few days.
On Friday, KOIN 6 spoke with Sen. Ron Wagner of Lake Oswego, who has just been sworn in as Speaker of the Oregon Senate.
When it comes to the addiction crisis, it highlights the need for more prevention work, and another key component is finding more people willing to work in mental health and addiction services.
But given the fact that many of these jobs are low-paying and stressful, it’s a difficult task.
“I think we have to get a little creative. And then we have to talk about investing in the workforce. We need to make people aware that these jobs exist and try to raise the bar. said Wagner. “People do great work and there are great opportunities to work with people in this space.”
The past few days have seen a spate of disturbing crimes directly related to mental health and addiction. A suspect accused of setting fire to a former Portland Korean church last week told her investigators that a voice in her head told her to do so.
Also last week, Gresham Police said a 25-year-old man attacked a 78-year-old man on a MAX train, chewing off parts of the victim’s ear and face. The suspect told authorities he thought the man was a robot.
And two weeks ago, according to police, surveillance video from the MAX platform showed 32-year-old Brianna Workman pushing a 3-year-old into a MAX truck. Police said the attack was not provocative at all.
Gonzalez, who will formally take office as Portland’s newest commissioner on Friday, said he believes the city and state failed to adequately address Portland’s mental health and addiction crisis. Did.
He said he was pleasantly surprised to see how leaders aligned on issues that needed to be addressed.
Regarding Bill 110, a law passed by Oregon voters in 2020 to decriminalize hard drugs, Gonzalez said lawmakers could quickly and effectively fund the treatment centers outlined in Bill 110. I said I agree that it should be deployed. But he said he didn’t want to talk to anyone about addressing other potential consequences of the measure.
“I was kind of an outlier in the room because I kept asking about some of the unintended consequences of Measure 110,” Gonzalez said. Is it? It’s attracting migrants to the city of Portland looking for a place to camp and do hard drugs.”
According to Wagner, more focus needs to be put on getting drug traffickers in jail.
“I think it’s also appropriate to start talking about drug prohibition. If there are people in our state who are trafficking drugs, we need to take them seriously,” he said.