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Eugene-Springfield Fire to take over CAHOOTS next month

 Van in lot.
Brian Bull
A CAHOOTS van sits in the main lot of the mobile crisis program's location in Eugene. Oversight will be transferred from the Eugene Police Dept. to Eugene-Springfield Fire (logo inset) in July.

After more than three decades, oversight of the mobile-crisis intervention program, CAHOOTS, will be shifted from the Eugene Police Department to Eugene-Springfield Fire.

The City of Eugene’s restructuring of services ahead of a budget gap and an alternative response study -which said CAHOOTS was stretched thin – are a few reasons given for the shift.

Fire chief.
Brian Bull
Mike Caven, Chief of Eugene-Springfield Fire.

Mike Caven, Chief of Eugene-Springfield Fire, told KLCC that his agency will take charge of CAHOOTS starting July 1.
“We'll work with them. We'll work with what we're learning through the alternative response study,” said Caven. “To really identify how best to invest and deploy that resource. Our primary goal will be to make sure that the CAHOOTS resource is available for those who need it when they need it.”

Caven said he wanted to assure locals that the shift won’t affect the efficiency of CAHOOTS, and the EPD will also be part of the conversation.

Several members of CAHOOTS did not respond to repeated requests for a recorded interview for this story.

An acronym for “Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets”, the program launched in 1989, and was seen as an unorthodox collaboration between community health advocates and local police. It’s been upheld as a model alternative to armed police response in situations requiring a mental health intervention, especially following the 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police. At the same time, the heightened demand for CAHOOTS during the pandemic strained resources and the energy of teams. Members of the program were discussing unionization last fall.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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