Tri-government response to the fentanyl emergency: A look inside the Unified Command Center

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – More than a month since the City of Portland, Multnomah County and the State of Oregon declared a fentanyl emergency, KOIN 6 News got an exclusive look inside the Unified Command Center where the three governments are at work.

Inside, dozens of people coordinate outreach missions and law enforcement missions with service providers telling those field teams what beds they have as well as how much space they have left over for people they contact.

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And downtown, the Portland Police Bureau’s bike squad is out with the Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office on coordinated missions with outreach workers. Outreach specialists are ready to respond quickly if law enforcement calls to meet with those in need.

“We call the hotline that we have or someone from a nonprofit is dispatched out here and a team hopefully to talk to that person, make that in-person connection, show them that recovery is possible,” Officer David Baer with the PPB Bike Squad said.

Recent missions have focused on downtown areas like the Safeway at 1030 SW Jefferson Street, where steady improvements have been made over the past several days. Now they are working to identify other hot spots after people dispersed from that area.

Officer Baer said they want the community to speak up about what they see, adding that the bike squad Instagram account is a good place to reach them.

“Keep an eye on downtown and the larger downtown area of where people are seeing drug use and drug dealing so we’re always taking community input on where they’re seeing an issue and address our resources there as well,” Officer Baer said.

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There are dozens of different organizations working on the addiction crisis. Each day, the command team hears from a different program or different service provider to get an understanding of local community resources.

Part of the unified command’s role is to recommend what the three governments do next. There will be recommendations on how to spend money, what policies to change and what laws will need to be changed based on this work.

“The thing we’re working on is to make sure…we communicate together but we don’t duplicate service,” one member of the UCC said.

Stay with KOIN 6 as we continue to cover the fentanyl crisis.

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