Testimony of William Juhn to the Council of the City of New York Committee on Public Safety

Baerga v. City of New York, CCIT-NYC, Community Justice, Daniel's Law, Disability Justice, Health Justice, Immigrant Justice, News, Transforming Mental Health Crisis Response, de la Cruz vs. NYC

My name is William Juhn and I am a Senior Staff Attorney with the Disability Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (“NYLPI”). Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony today regarding public safety. On March 27th, the NYPD officers fatally shot Win Rozario in Queens, who was 19 years old, while he was experiencing a mental health crisis for which he had called 911 for help. How many more individuals must die by 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. We also oppose the Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division (“B-HEARD”) Program, a deeply flawed pilot that diverts resources desperately needed for non-police response to mental health crisis into a program that continues the criminalization of disability.  NYLPI urges the City Council to mandate significant changes to the B-HEARD so that it becomes a truly non-police response system that dispatches teams of peers—individuals with lived mental health experience—and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) who are not City employees. 

Download the full testimony below.


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