Thirty years ago in the town of Eugene, Oregon, a group of super-liberal hippies came to the conclusion, which the rest of the country is just now coming to, that police are not equipped to deal with most of the calls they receive.
Only 4 percent of incidents police are dispatched to are actual violent crimes, meaning that the remaining 96 percent include traffic violations, mental health crises and calls regarding homelessness, etc. Police officers, who are really just a domestic military force, arrive on the scene armed with guns, tasers and batons. They bring violence into nonviolent situations, immediately escalating them. They arrest, brutalize and murder people who desperately need the help of trained professionals.
That is why a group of everyday people founded CAHOOTS, which stands for Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets.
Armed with a small staff of mental health and drug abuse professionals and an old van to work out of, they began responding to emergency calls across the city. In the thirty years since its founding, CAHOOTS has flourished into an established community resource. It now has three emergency response vans and double the staff. The program operates out of the White Bird Clinic, which provides counseling, medical, dental and substance abuse rehabilitation services. It is an example of what it means to defund the police and invest back into the community. It is an innovative force that the rest of the country needs.
It is well understood that in cities like Los Angeles or New York, it is going to take more than a few vans of trained professionals to respond to the number of 911 calls that are placed every single day. CAHOOTS simply sets the precedent. It proves that a world that is not dominated by police can and should exist. Now is the time for a drastically innovative program like CAHOOTS. People are being murdered at the hands of untrained law enforcement officers every single day, multiple times a day.
This is the time to be imaginative with new systems.
This is the time for radical new ideas and reinventions.
This is the time for drastic, lasting change.
In the wake of the movement to defund the police, the demands for well-thought-out alternatives are growing. In today’s episode, Shaun breaks down how the CAHOOTS model of emergency response might just be the replacement for the police we’ve all been searching for.