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City Council approves consulting contract with CAHOOTS operator 

click to enlarge Two CAHOOTS counselors talk to a patient. - PHOTO PROVIDED / VIA WXXI NEWS
  • PHOTO PROVIDED / VIA WXXI NEWS
  • Two CAHOOTS counselors talk to a patient.
The Rochester City Council unanimously voted to enter into a one-year, $25,000 consulting contract with Eugene, Oregon's White Bird Clinic during a meeting Tuesday. The clinic will provide guidance and technical support for the city's new Crisis Intervention Services Unit.

The White Bird Clinic has received national recognition for its Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) program, a 30-plus year partnership with the Eugene Police Department where social workers, not police, are sent to calls involving mental health crises. The clinic has in the past provided consulting services other cities, including Seattle and San Francisco, to guide their own police reform efforts.

Rochester's Crisis Intervention Services Unit was formed after the release of video footage showing Rochester Police Department officers restraining Daniel Prude during a mental health arrest. Prude lost consciousness and stopped breathing while officers restrained him and he died a week later at Strong Memorial Hospital.

The unit currently has 14 staff members and it is part of the city's Department of Recreation and Human Services (DRHS). Its staff will will respond to mental health crisis calls independently from Rochester Police Department officers. They'll also respond in tandem with police officers when warranted, such as incidents where there's an immediate risk of violence.

The city's Family Crisis Intervention Team (FACIT) was also moved under the Department of Recreation and Human Services following the release of the Prude video.

The city will have the option to renew the consulting contract with the White Bird Clinic at the end of the year.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.
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