NEW YORK (AP) – New York City police will be on high alert for a mental health crisis, and social workers will be responding instead in northern Manhattan starting this spring.
The test program will begin at three Harlem and East Harlem police stations, which last year had the highest total in the city in terms of more than 7,400 mental health. A health initiative called ThriveNYC.
The details of a plan the city outlined in November were to keep psychiatric crises from escalating into confrontations and to provide more health care to people.
The experience “will be a step forward in the city’s commitment to treat mental health crises as a public issue rather than a public safety issue,” Herman told the City Council committee. He said that the city hopes to make the program a city-wide one as soon as possible.
Some important features remain to be seen in practice, including how real-time decisions will be challenged when calling the police, who will still respond to calls about weapons or “danger of harm.” And the city’s EMT union says the city needs to make sure they are safe before going to work.
Mental health advocates welcomed the idea, but made some reservations about how the city was building it.
“Attempting to leave the police as one of the first respondents to a mental health crisis is a step in the right direction,” said Cal Hedigan, executive director of the Community Accessibility Mental Health Organization. But he would like the response teams to include people who have a mental illness and are prepared to help others.
Otherwise, “you run the risk of replacing one faulty system with another that lacks a strong element,” Hedigan said.
There are calls in the country to change the authorities responsible for the catastrophic people, for example, in the context of the case of Daniel Proude, the case of the police in Rochester who died after the police in Rochester put the antidote and kept it on the ground while he was. In March, he was experiencing a mental health crisis. This month, a 9-year-old black girl was handcuffed and sprinkled with pepper after police responded to a call from her mother, and the girl was moved.
Some other U.S. cities, including Denver and San Francisco, have recently replaced or plan to replace police with mental health professionals in some situations. Oregon Eugene has had one for decades.
In New York City last year, police և EMT responded to all 154,000 calls to 911 for emergency behavioral health. Almost half of it ended with someone being hospitalized. Less than 1 in 100 were arrested, police officials told the council committee.
The new test program will send two fire service EMT և teams of one social worker, who will be available 16 hours a day, Herman said.
The New York Police Department is working with ThriveNYC to “ensure that the agency responds to people in mental health crisis,” police spokesman Al Baker said in a statement.
Herman said the new program is being hired, it will start as soon as the necessary staff is hired and trained.
The fire department backed the test plan and declined to comment further on Monday.
But Oren Barzillai, head of EMT, abbreviated Local 2507, said that “before any program can move forward, we must ensure the safety and security of our workforce.”