Written Testimony of Sakeena Trice, NYLPI, to Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities

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Testimony of Sakeena Trice, 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

March 21, 2024

My name is Sakeena Trice, 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 on behalf of NYLPI. NYLPI is deeply concerned about the City’s 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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