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CAHOOTS gains national attention amid calls to defund police

CAHOOTS operates in teams of two, a crisis intervention specialist and a medic, and take to the streets to assist with mental-health crises, intoxication, mediation, and more all without police.

Posted: Jun 10, 2020 7:39 PM
Updated: Aug 3, 2020 11:01 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- CAHOOTS, Crisis Assitance Helping Out On The Streets, a subsidy of White Bird Clinic ia gaining national attention as an alternative to policing.

It's a subsidiary of White Bird Clinic. They operate in teams of two -- a crisis intervention specialist and a medic  -- and take to the streets to assist with mental-health crises, intoxication, mediation, and more all without police. 

However, they will contact police when a situation escalates to a violent place. 

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Ebony Morgan, a crisis intervention specialist with CAHOOTS, appeared on CNN this week to share their model with the nation.

"My father died during a police encounter and I am really passionate about alternatives to police response," she told KEZI.

And amid the national attention, she said her focus is here in our community, helping our city's most vulnerable.

Last year CAHOOTS received $2 million from the city and county while responding to 20% of calls for police. The police department received over $60 million.

Kimber Hawes, an outreach manager and crisis intervention specialist at CAHOOTS, said their approach is completely different than the police. 

"Police are trained to perceive stuff as a threat and we are trained the exact opposite," she said.

She said they only work with the support of the community and of course more funding would go a long way.

"We are kind of as strong as what the public safety sector will let us do," she said.

CAHOOTS is not a one-size-fits-all alternative to policing, but the framework is catching the eye of our community and our country.

"I would like to continue to encourage people to articulate what they're after and use the momentum of this time to push for equity and growth in our community because it's just a fact that there's room for it," said Morgan.

An online petition that calls for 30% of the Eugene Police Department's funding to go to CAHOOTS has gathered thousands of signatures. 

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