Testimony of NYLPI Disability Justice Program to the New York City Council Committees on Health and Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction

CCIT-NYC, Community Justice, Daniel's Law, Disability Justice, Health Justice, News, Transforming Mental Health Crisis Response, de la Cruz vs. NYC

Testimony of  Ruth Lowenkron, Disability Justice Director,   Sakeena Trice, Senior Staff Attorney,  and  William Juhn, Senior Staff Attorney  on behalf of  The Disability Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest before  The Council of the City of New York Committee on Health and Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction

My name is Ruth Lowenkron, and I am the Director of the Disability Justice Program at New York  Lawyers for the Public Interest (“NYLPI”). Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony on behalf  of NYLPI regarding mental health services. 

On March 27, New York Police Department (“NYPD”) officers in Queens fatally shot Win  Rozario, a 19-year-old, while he was experiencing a mental health crisis for which he had called 911 for  help. How many more individuals must die at the hands of police before we finally adopt a more humane,  peer-led, and person-centric approach to mental health crises?  

NYLPI is deeply concerned about the City’s dangerous and illegal practices relating to the  involuntary removal of individuals perceived to have mental illness diagnoses for psychiatric evaluation. Additionally, NYLPI urges the City Council to mandate significant changes in the Behavioral Health  Emergency Assistance Response Division Program (“B-HEARD), as it is a deeply flawed pilot which  merely purports to be a non-police response to people experiencing mental health crises – but in fact is  part of the long tradition of policing, criminalizing, and under- and mis-serving people with mental disabilities. Funding B-HEARD in its current guise diverts money from what we need – a true non- police crisis response system that dispatches teams of peers (those with lived mental health experience) and  emergency medical technicians who are not City employees, 24/7 operating hours, calls routed through 988, and above all, prioritizes the self-determination of people with mental disabilities. 

Download the full testimony below.


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