City & State: B-HEARD Still Routes Most Mental Health Calls to the Police

April 30, 2022

Disability Justice, News, Transforming Mental Health Crisis Response

A police officer with his back turned.


Activists are criticizing Mayor Eric Adams’ budget proposal and its inclusion of $55 million towards New York City’s Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division (B-HEARD) program. The pilot program attempts to remove police from mental health crisis response by routing 911 calls to a B-HEARD team of a mental health professional and two EMTs. However, callers cannot request a B-HEARD team, resulting in many calls continuing to be routed to the police.

NYLPI Director of Disability Justice Ruth Lowenkron commented that “There’s very little about this that is truly a ‘non-police’ response.” Additionally, the B-HEARD program is available 16 hours of the day, resulting in 20% of calls occurring outside operating hours. Lowenkron challenged, “How do you have a valid program for [addressing a] crisis that’s not 24/7?”

Read more from City & State.

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