A tip of the hat to efforts by Umatilla County officials to get in on the ground floor of federal funding for the CAHOOTS Act — Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets — a bill being promoted by Sen. Ron Wyden. The bill would provide funding for partnerships between law enforcement and mental health agencies that would form two-person teams available 24/7 to respond to calls for nonviolent situations involving mentally ill or homeless individuals.
Umatilla County commissioners told Wyden they are setting aside money to be ready to participate right away, and leaders from around the area met last weekend with Wyden to discuss mental health.
Members of local law enforcement have reported in recent years they are spending an increasing amount of time responding to calls for disturbances or trespassing involving people who are mentally ill or impaired by drugs. We agree with them that police are not the ones that should be at the forefront of dealing with our mental health crisis. A CAHOOTS-style program could be the solution.
Of course, there are a lot of important details the county would need to get right. Counselors being put in a position of responding to violent situations they’re not trained to deal with isn’t any better than police being asked to respond to mental health situations they’re not trained for. But this shows promise and we’re glad the county is being proactive about looking for a way to better deal with the problem.
A kick in the pants to anyone being careless with fire right now.
Drought conditions and record-hot weather are combining for what experts are predicting will be a particularly nasty fire season this summer. This is absolutely not the time to throw a cigarette out the window, light fireworks over dry grass or leave a burning pile of yard waste unattended.
Please, be careful with anything that could spark a fire, from charcoal grills to lawn mowers. Follow recommendations from fire departments and insurance companies for creating a defensible space around your home. We can’t control the weather, but we can do our part not to make hot situations worse.