Starting in February 2021, New York City will send teams of trained mental health and emergency medical professionals, rather than police, to respond to 911 calls involving a mental health crisis.
The new initiative, announced Tuesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will be trialed in two undisclosed neighborhoods, and is an attempt to deescalate the potential for police violence.
The idea of sending professionals actually trained to deal with mental health, rather than police with the capability to respond with lethal force, is rooted in police abolition. A 2015 report found that one in four police killings involved a person with a severe mental illness.
Jumaane D. Williams, NYC’s public advocate, released a plan last year that stressed a more complete approach to the problem of police violence during mental health crises, including more 24/7 facilities to deal with mental health care and alternate lines to call besides 911.
Williams’ office tweeted today that while it was good to see progress in removing police from the equation, the mayor’s plan “lacked the scope or the details needed.”
You can read more about the initiative here: