East Portland organizers feel ‘left behind’ after fentanyl emergency ends

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – It’s been two weeks since the end of the 90-day fentanyl emergency declared by the state of Oregon, Multnomah County, and the city of Portland.

Multnomah County’s dashboard shows there were double the amount of people who died from overdose in April 2024 than April 2022 – a sign of the increasing crisis.

Within three months, Oregon State Police helped downtown, a law enforcement outreach partnership developed, and the Portland Police Bureau’s downtown bike squad doubled in size.

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The bike squad went from four officers to eight and covers every day of the week until midnight. Within 14 months, the squad has arrested 70 fentanyl dealers.

“We’re seeing a lot of a lot of the stuff that was going on last summer and the summer before and in the winter, pushing later and later into the evening time,” Sgt. Jerry Cioeta with Portland police said.

Meanwhile, there has been no update on a similar strategy in east Portland or east county.

And though the effort focused on downtown Portland while promising to be a model for other communities, organizations stationed farther east still feel left behind.

“I’m saying we need an independent body of people who know the subject matter, who know how to address addiction, overdose, etc., and who have experience working in the system or being in the system,” Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran. “And they’re the ones putting that system together and responding to the emergency.”

A success that was touted after the end of the emergency was the coordination calls between governments and organizations working to combat addiction.

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Coordination calls and outreach partnerships were promised for east county as well, though east county organizations like PDX Saints Love said that has not happened yet.

“Unfortunately, I have not heard anything since then,” PDX Saints Love Executive Director Kristle Delihanty said. “No one has contacted us from the county or, like I said, the health department to see if we wanted to be able to be a part of some kind of continued coordination.”

In the meantime, organizations are doing it themselves.

“That coordination is done at a community-based level. That’s not because Multnomah County is stepping in and making sure that that coordination is happening,” Delihanty said. “That’s happening because we’re down here trying to hold the seams together.”

Multnomah County officials told KOIN 6 News the coordination calls will start in July for other areas of the county after reaching out to include different organizations.

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