The Portland (Ore.) Police Bureau has drafted a much-expanded policy that stresses the need for officers to recognize behaviors "characteristic'' of mental illness and safely de-escalate encounters, reports the Oregonian.

The new "Mental Health Crisis Response'' directive requires officers to use special skills to avoid unnecessary violence and potential civil liability.

The mental crisis response policy follows a federal judge's approval last summer of a negotiated settlement between the city of Portland and the U.S. Department of Justice that required changes to Portland police policies, training and oversight. The settlement stemmed from a federal investigation that found police had a pattern of using excessive force against people with mental illness or people perceived to have a mental illness.

In deciding how to respond to a call involving someone suffering a mental health crisis, officers are given response options, including not engaging with the person, walking away from a call, or delaying taking the person into custody if police can return at a safer time.

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