Taking a page from community policing, officers now try to get to know those in trouble and offer help.
In the garage beneath central precinct, officer Bret Burton and his social worker partner Cindy Hackett prepare to hit the streets. Burton and Hackett are a unique pair, they are the only two in Portland with just one focus: to find and help people with mental illness.
“That’s one of the big things that we do as the mobile crisis unit. We get to know these people as human beings. We talk to family members about their concerns,” Burton said.
On Friday, they were looking for a man in his mid 40s who recently got out of the state mental hospital. They worry he’s not getting the help he needs.
As the only mental health team on the streets each day, the partners get many calls. The need is great, and no one knows that more than officer Burton.