The program, which will begin next February, is modeled after a similar system in place in the town of Eugene, Oregon.
Faced with police violence, some American cities are considering abolishing their municipal police. Others reduce the lifestyle of these units. In Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, and now New York, mental health specialists will soon be likely to step in instead of the police.
Unveiled by Chirlane McCray, wife of Mayor Bill de Blasio, already leading a city action plan for mental health, the program “Will treat mental health issues as a health issue and not as a public safety issue”. The city’s 911 (the emergency number) received more than 170,000 mental health calls in 2019, indicated CNN, or one call every three minutes or so, and the majority of them were for “People who just needed help”, according to Chirlane McCray.
The teams will be made up of emergency responders and mental health specialists and will be dispatched by the city’s 911, authorities said on Tuesday., reports the channel. Police will be sent to assist in cases where the subject possesses a weapon or threatens to use violence..”
In New York, the program will begin next February, in two neighborhoods whose names have not been released, “Two communities in great difficulty which are hard hit by the Covid-19”.
Well received by health professionals and law enforcement, the idea still raises concerns: “Our colleagues in the emergency services, already overworked, will find themselves in dangerous situations without the support of the police”, according to the president of a police union.
The New York program is inspired by the one in effect since 1989 in Eugene, Oregon, specifies CNN. A city of 171,000 people where mental health and crisis specialists answered 24,000 calls in 2019, “Or 20% of interventions. About 150 of them required the presence of the police. ”