In Place of Police: The Oregon Experiment

Every call that is dispatched through the radio, twenty-four hours a day, to the CAHOOTS crisis responders is a tiny mystery, a staticky, incomplete assemblage of details. “White female in her thirties, brown hair, black mid-length shirt, last seen on Sixth, yelling and running into traffic,” for instance, on a recent Saturday evening in late August.

The responders in this case—Michael Williams, an emergency medical technician, and Ashley Hubbard, an EMT and mental health crisis worker—piloted their bulky white Ford Explorer van toward a likely strip of Sixth Avenue, a downtown thoroughfare, shortly before sunset. Aside from a handful of restaurants seating people outdoors, the avenue was quiet, and they soon found a woman who fit the description outside the High Priestess Tattoo Shop on Sixth and Charnelton Street. She was smoking a cigarette and crying noisily, with a crumpled bunch of papers in her other hand. When she saw the responders, she started talking.

The New York Review of Books