Cahoots could be leaving Springfield

The program, which helps people in mental health crisis and other emergencies, will be losing funding next year.

Posted: Jun. 12, 2018 6:16 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Cahoots, a program that helps people in mental health crisis and other emergencies, will be losing part of their funding next year, which means their Springfield services are in danger of ending.

The program is run by the White Bird Clinic in Eugene. White Bird is a clinic that helps homeless or financially-strained people access the resources they need. Cahoots has the same goal in mind, but they travel to those people in need and provide services to them immediately.

Cahoots mostly responds to people in mental health crisis. Every van is occupied by a medic and a crisis worker so that they can assist in any emergency, both physical and mental.

"It's something different, you know, we're an alternative," said Tim Black, the Cahoots Operations Coordinator. "This community is really fortunate that there is this behavioral health response, that it's not just fire, and EMS, and the police department, that there's this third option to really come in there and support people."

The service existed solely in Eugene until 2015, when it expanded to include Springfield. This was thanks to a grant from Lane County. However, the funding from that grant is set to run out in July of 2019.

Springfield police said Cahoots has been an amazing addition to the city that has not only lightened their workload but provided an alternative for people to contact in their time of need.

"A lot of times, people who are in mental health crisis, a uniform can be a trigger. The presence of uniformed police officers can be a problem,” said Lt. Scott McKee with the Springfield Police Department.

McKee said without a service like this, many things become legal matters that don’t need to be. Cahoots helps keep people out of jail who don’t need to be there and out of the hospital. For example, if someone in mental health crisis is causing a scene at your business, and you want them removed but not arrested, call Cahoots.

"We live in the community of Springfield. Some of our staff work part-time in the community of Springfield. We're a part of that community,” Black said.

For now, Cahoots can be contacted at Springfield Police Department’s non-emergency line, 541-726-3714. McKee said Springfield police and other agencies are working on a way to hopefully keep at least some of Cahoots’ services moving forward.

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