Arrest of Mentally Ill Woman Frustrates HPD Chief

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The Hermiston police chief says “the system failed” a woman who was in need of medical help, but instead was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct.

Over a 12-hour period on Monday, the Hermiston Police Department received numerous calls involving a woman “clearly in crisis of some kind,” said Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston.

According to Edmiston, officers responded to Tower Apartments in Hermiston on a report that a woman was causing a disturbance. Officers arrived and learned a 46-year-old female currently residing in the apartment complex had locked herself out of her apartment and was not able to contact management.

Several hours later, around 7:15 a.m., officers responded to a call about a woman walking down the road “acting crazy.” Officers contacted the female and attempted to talk with her about potential services she could receive. The female did not wish to receive any help and continued on her walk outside the city limits.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., officers responded to a location on the edge of the department’s service area on Feedville Road on a report of a female walking around naked. Upon arrival the female was contacted yet again but this time transported to the hospital in hopes she would get assistance.

Edmiston said that at approximately 1:30 p.m., the same female walked away from the hospital and down the road with her bathrobe open to traffic. Numerous calls were made as the female was causing public alarm due to her behavior.

HPD officers arrested the female on a charge of disorderly conduct and lodged her in the county jail in Pendleton.

“The system we have in place is extremely frustrating for law enforcement,” Edmiston said. “The new trend across the nation is to train officers to interact with people in crisis differently than before. Inasmuch as that sounds great, the reality is people who are in crisis should be getting treatment from professionals not from line level police officers. In my opinion, the system failed yet again in this case as our agency was forced to arrest a person that clearly needs medical treatment of some kind.”