NYC will try sending health responders in place of police

CityLab Daily
Bloomberg

In a new pilot, New York City dispatchers will send out emergency medical services and mental health crisis workers, instead of police officers, to respond to mental-health-related calls. Other cities like Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco are also set to try similar initiatives.

The programs — modeled after a nearly 30-year-old alternative emergency response program in Eugene, Oregon — respond to a longstanding criticism of American policing. According to one estimate, individuals struggling with behavioral health make up a quarter of police shootings and more than 2 million jail bookings per year. Activists say police are ill-equipped to handle mental health emergencies, and too often the calls end in violence or the death of the person seeking help, particularly in communities of color. But launching an alternative policing initiative is only the beginning to fixing a broken system, advocates tell Fola Akinnibi. Today on CityLab: NYC Pilot Sends Health Workers in Place of Police

-Linda Poon

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