Free The People WNY

Tell Erie County: Take police out of mental health response

Tell Erie County: Take police out of mental health response

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Daniel Prude. Willie Henley. A 9 year old getting pepper sprayed. These three incidents in the Western New York region could have all been handled differently if each individual was interacting with a mental health counselor and not a police officer.

We have the opportunity before us to change how 911 calls for a mental health crisis are handled in Erie County. This week, a draft Police Reform plan was released for public comment. We need to use this public comment process to show Erie County we do not want police handling mental health crisis calls. Will you take two minutes to submit a comment?

Comments must be submitted by next Monday, March 1. Comments will be compiled as a part of the Police Reform plan and sent to the Erie County Legislature for their review and consideration. The Legislature will act on the plan by April 1.

Below is a sample comment you can copy and paste into the public comment box. Please feel free to edit or submit your own comment.

Comments can be submitted here, (where you can also review the draft plan).

Thank you for taking the time to plant a seed for monumental change in Erie County!

Sample Comment:

“On Page 22, the second recommendation on the page discusses the need for a Crisis Services Response Team . This is much needed, but it is vital that this effort is spearheaded by the Commissioner of Mental Health. This Crisis Response Team should have jurisdiction over all 911 calls for a mental health crisis. The Crisis Services Response Team should be exclusively made up of mental health professionals. The Crisis Services Response Team should be a  division of the Department of Mental Health and that department should be provided the resources and capacity to be the primary first responder to all mental health crisis calls in Erie County. Erie County Sheriff’s Office and other police agencies should only continue to respond to mental health calls until the Crisis Services Response Team’s creation is complete.  Once the mental health team is complete, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and all other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in Erie County should only respond to mental health calls in a backup capacity, just as they may for other medical service calls.  The Department of Central Police Services is a vital component to the creation of a Crisis Services Response Team and they should be provided improved training to assess and handle mental health crisis calls to ensure that 911 calls for a mental health crisis are dispatched to the Crisis Response Team once it is created.”

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