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City Council Study Session Minutes - Noon
Thursday, June 11, 2015
June 11, 2015
Medford City Hall, Medford Room
411 West Eighth Street, Medford, Oregon
The Medford City Council Study Session was called to order at noon in the Medford Room of the Medford City Hall on the above date with the following members and staff present:
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Tim Jackle, Chris Corcoran, Michael Zarosinski, Daniel Bunn, Clay Bearnson, Dick Gordon, Eli Matthews, Kevin Stine.
City Manager Pro Tem Bill Hoke; City Recorder Glenda Wilson; Police Chief Tim George; Police Lt. Curtis Whipple; Corporal Josh Schilder
Crisis Intervention Training - Medford Police Department
Police Chief Tim George addressed the Council regarding the Police Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) attended by police staff. He spoke to the incidents that Medford Police Department has encountered with individuals that have mental health issues and how that impacts the responders and citizens in the community. There was a 15.9 percent increase from 2013 to 2014 in this type of incident and there has already been an increase in the first quarter of this year in mental health holds and suicide attempts.
Councilmember Corcoran asked if there were any demographics as to male/female, age, etc. Police Chief George indicated “yes”, the majority are males over 50 with a firearm. He spoke to the prevention efforts that are done in the Trujillo case where officers responded and were able to take four guns. There are also other types of mental health calls for service. There are approximately 1,200-1,500 individuals per year that are taken to sobering services and have to be held and sobered to the degree medical personnel can perform an evaluation.
Corporal Josh Schilder and Lt. Curtis Whipple spoke to the crisis intervention training that they are both providing to the department staff. Corporal Schilder provided devices for Council to use for demonstration purposes. These devices simulate what a schizophrenic individual hears when they hear voices in their head. The devices are used during the CIT training where attendees of the training will wear the headsets for approximately 2-3 hours during the training. This provides them with the ability to understand what those suffering from schizophrenia experience.
Lt. Whipple led the Council through an exercise used during CIT training. He spoke to the goals of the training which include improved safety for all parties involved and working to get services to the individuals so that their issues can be stabilized and further police response is not needed. He reviewed the training components and how it has been beneficial for the officers taking the training. He noted that site visits to the VA Domiciliary and Hazelton Facilities were the most impactful.
Councilmember Dick Gordon inquired as to how the suicide rate is calculated; Lt. Whipple indicated that Oregon is calculated at 41percent and is above the US average rate. He said the contributing factors were access to firearms, longer wetter winters, more cloud cover and an increased elderly population. Councilmember Gordon questioned if there were more by handguns or rifles used; Lt. Whipple was not sure as he has seen both used. Chief George indicated that western states were phenomena because of their rural living, firearms and lack of services in rural areas. Councilmember Corcoran indicated that there was more than likely a linkage to alcohol and/or drugs. Chief George spoke to differences between auto fatalities and suicide and noted there are twice as many suicides. Corporal Schilder indicated that sometimes there is a dual diagnosis and it is hard to distinguish the cause. Lt. Whipple spoke to resources in Oregon and specifically Jackson County which are very limited for individuals to receive services.
The outcomes from the training are increased interactions with mental health providers which result in less repeat calls, reduction in use of force and getting local services to join together to try to assist an individual. Councilmember Corcoran queried how to get officers to ensure self-care in these types of situations. Lt. Whipple indicated they are working to talk through and debrief issues, discuss the impacts to them as individuals and make assistance available.
Councilmember Tim Jackle stated he would like to do a ride along with the police department if at all possible.
Councilmember Clay Bearnson asked how much of this region’s issue is due to long term use of meth; Lt. Whipple indicated it has some impact, as with any psych active drug.
The Medford Police Department’s goal is to have all sworn personnel CIT trained by October 2015 but they will continue to offer this training as refreshers and for all new personnel.
Councilmember Matthews asked whether more could be done to help; Lt. Whipple indicated that more mental health workers and beds are needed. Councilmember Matthews asked what proactive steps could be taken, such as psychiatric nurses in high demand. Councilmember Jackle indicated that Jackson County Mental Health has immediate care for medical issues and is readily available, they are only treating 30 to 35 percent and he would like to see more clinics available for immediate help. There needs to be a shift in thinking regarding mental health. Councilmember Stine asked if the suicides include police by lethal intervention; Lt. Whipple indicated it does not include the police department numbers but spoke to some of the positive things occurring in Jackson County to help meet these issues.
The meeting adjourned at 1:10 p.m.