PRESS RELEASE: Advocates Applaud Mayor’s $112M Mental Health Crisis Response Allocation, Yet Call for Complete Removal of Police and Urge Involvement of Peers and Affected CommunitiesMay 3, 2021
Contact: Lynsey Billet, [email protected], 347-361-8449
Advocates Applaud Mayor’s $112M Mental Health Crisis Response Allocation, Yet Call for Complete Removal of Police and Urge Involvement of Peers and Affected Communities
New York, NY — April 28, 2021 — Correct Crisis Intervention Today – NYC (CCIT-NYC), a coalition of more than 80 mental health advocacy and other community organizations, applauds the Mayor’s allocation of $112M to fund a city-wide mental health crisis response system with the goal of eliminating police as responders.
At the same time, CCIT-NYC reiterates the need for a mental health crisis response system that incorporates the latest standards in crisis de-escalation, and is responsive to the concerns of affected communities, especially communities of color.
The Mayor and the City Council must ensure that New York’s crisis response system is:
- Entirely free of police involvement;
- Driven by peers – those with lived mental health experience;
- Community-based and culturally competent; and
- Comparable time-wise to other City emergency response services.
For far too long, the mental health community has faced recurring and relentless trauma at the hands of the police and other first responders to mental health crises. Since 2015 alone, the New York City Police Department has killed 18 people experiencing mental health crises, 15 of whom were people of color.
While CCIT-NYC calls for a healthcare-only response, the answer is not New York City’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS), which has made clear that it does not want its staff to be responders; indeed, they have already struggled to fill positions at the pilot stage. Further, EMS is often a first responder under the current system, which has failed our City and does not have the support of people with disabilities.
CCIT-NYC urges the City to adopt its proposed model, which is based on the hugely successful crisis response system in Eugene, Oregon – Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) – that currently serves as the model for response systems across the country, including those in Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco, New Haven, and an ever-growing list of other cities. With its corps of independent emergency medical technicians and civilian crisis workers – the vast majority of whom are peers, and all of whom received a minimum of 500 hours of on-the-ground training in crisis counseling, conflict resolution, and medical care – CAHOOTS has a 30+ year track record of zero serious injuries to its staff or to those experiencing crises.
The Mayor’s bold budget allocation of $112M is much needed and long overdue. Using the money to establish a peer-driven, community-based mental health response system that eliminates police entirely will greatly enhance the lives of all New Yorkers.
CCIT-NYC is a coalition of more than 80 mental health advocacy and other community organizations, consisting of hundreds of community stakeholders, working to transform how New York City responds to mental health crises. CCIT-NYC has proposed a mental health crisis response system that replaces police with teams of trained peer specialists and independent emergency medical technicians, based on input from two 100-plus-member community focus groups and a review of relevant research. For more information about CCIT-NYC and its proposal, visit http://www.ccitnyc.org/who-we-are/our-proposal.
CCIT-NYC Steering Committee Members: Kimberly Blair, NAMI-NYC; Steve Coe, Advocate; Robert Gangi, Police Reform Organizing Project; Chikaodinaka Gbenoba, Fountain House; Felix Guzman, Advocate; Beth Haroules, New York Civil Liberties Union; Cal Hedigan, Community Access; Peggy Herrera, Advocate; Ruth Lowenkron, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest; Jenny Marashi, Marashi Legal; Luke Messina, Police Reform Organizing Project; James Mutton, Concern for Independent Living, Inc.; Lucas Pershing, Trinity Church Wall Street; Carla Rabinowitz, Community Access; Charles Sanchez, Institute for Community Living; Raymond Schwartz, NAMI-NYC; Christina Sparrock, Advocate.
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