Corvallis mental health arrests skyrocket

The Lund Report, March 2015

Corvallis Police symbolLocal law enforcement have had their suspicions, but researchers have now backed them up: there has been a significant increase of people being taken into custody for issues surrounding mental health in recent years. From 2011 to 2012 alone, the number jumped from 144 to 245.

Reviewing the cases of 697 people taken into custody for these issues from 2007 to 2012, researchers also noted local law enforcement had doubled their time in dealing with these issues. Additionally, the researchers determined that 17% were so-called frequent fliers, people who were taken into custody multiple times over a 14-day period.

“This study validated our perspective that law enforcement contacts with community members having a mental health crisis have significantly risen over the past few years,” Corvallis Police Chief Jon Sassaman told OSU researchers. “It also showed how important it is that we work with all community assets to support individuals in need to prevent situations from generating a law enforcement response.”

Months back, Corvallis Police personnel went on record saying they believed that the Corvallis Housing First emergency men’s shelter downtown has served as a magnet for homeless individuals to come from other communities, and that we should expect increased crime and other issues. However, the OSU study does not examine housed versus unhoused as a correlate in any way.

The researchers were sociologists Scott Akins and Brett Burkhardt of OSU’s College of Liberal Arts, School of Public Policy. The study was co-authored by Charles Lanfear, who worked on the project as a graduate student at OSU. Findings and recommendations were published recently in the journal Criminal Justice Policy Review.