NEW YORK, Sept. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, September 25 at noon, Councilmembers Rosie Mendez, Brad Lander, Jumaane Williams, and Margaret Chin joined the Communities for Crisis Intervention Teams (www.ccitnyc.org)—a coalition of 35 behavioral health providers and concerned citizens—to call for the creation of specially trained crisis intervention teams that can partner with police officers to help better respond to the 100,000 "emotionally disturbed person" calls the NYPD receives each year.
Crisis Intervention Teams have proven to be effective resources in cities throughout the United States and are vital to minimizing violence and trauma that people in emotional crisis often experience as a result of interactions with the police. Through establishing a new approach to NYPD mental health recipient encounters, the effort would improve safety and security for citizens in crisis and NYPD officers.
The tragic shooting of bystanders in Times Square on September 14 is just one recent example of the need for increased training and resources for police officers dealing with encounters with people who are agitated or in a state of emotional crisis. The death of Mohamed Bah in 2012 is another example of the need for stronger partnerships between the police and the mental health community. Randolph McLaughlin, the attorney representing the Bah family, spoke at the CCIT NYC press event, along with Mohamed's mother, Hawa Bah—both urging city officials to create crisis intervention teams to help prevent future tragedies.
Dustin Grose, a mental health consumer diagnosed with schizophrenia who now works as a peer coordinator, said that his 911 emergency encounter with police in 2008 resulted in violence and injury: "I stayed in the hospital for a month, my nose broken, and the pain in my back and shoulder took half a year to heal, as did the lumps on my hand from the cuffs." There was no assertion that Dustin had a weapon or was a threat to anyone.
Steve Coe, CEO at Community Access, Inc., emphasized the importance of partnership and collaboration between CITs and the police: "We want the police and the mental health community to sit down and create a new system where police respond to crisis calls in a way that prevents injuries to police and mental health recipients. CIT models have worked well in cities around the nation; and now is the time to bring CITs to New York City."
Carla Rabinowitz, a community organizer at Community Access, reinforced this message: "We need a crisis intervention team in New York City, and we need extensive training of police by mental health advocates." Wendy Brennan, Executive Director of NAMI-NYC, said: "This is the right time to fight a key battle against mental illness stigma and to make this a safer city. Now is the time to bring Crisis Intervention Teams to New York and for the New York City Council to pass a resolution supporting CIT."
Elected officials championing this resolution include Councilmembers Mendez, Lander, Williams and Chin, each of whom spoke at the press event. Councilmember Rosie Mendez stated: "A meaningful partnership between the NYPD and trained crisis intervention workers is absolutely necessary to effectively and compassionately respond to the thousands of cases each year that involve emotionally disturbed persons. Working together in a collaboration that is based upon proactive and efficacious methods can truly protect and enhance the safety, welfare and civil rights of all New Yorkers."
Councilmember Albert Vann—who will introduce the resolution in the New York City Council strongly encouraging the use of Crisis Intervention Teams in NYC—released a statement earlier this week: "In a perfect world, our mental health care system and law enforcement system would not be so closely intertwined. But the fact is that police officers are usually first on the scene when situations involving citizens experiencing psychological crises come to a head. Knowing this, we must do all we can to ensure that the individuals in crisis, officers and families emerge from these encounters without the further psychological and emotional trauma that follows the death or injury of an officer or a mentally ill person. I believe that as a city, we can do better than we have done thus far and I am committed to this course."
State Senator Kevin Parker, a five-term Brooklyn lawmaker, also announced his support for CIT training in a recent statement. "Every day in New York City, our police officers are the first responders to incidents involving individuals with varying degrees of mental illness. It is our responsibility to ensure our first responders are properly trained to deal with individuals with mental illness, so that those individuals will be treated with utmost care and respect, while ensuring that neither they nor our first responders are placed in any unreasonable possibility of harm. Our nation is showing evidence of a growing mental health crisis, and my legislation will ensure the proper protocols are in place for the police and our community to avert or at least mitigate future tragedies."
About CCIT NYC (www.ccitnyc.org)
- Statistics show that a large percentage of the calls fielded by the NYPD involve a person facing an emotional crisis. The Communities for Crisis Intervention Teams (CCIT NYC) coalition seeks to make our streets safer for people with mental illnesses and for the police officers who respond to their calls. Crisis Intervention Teams are vital to reversing the trend of criminalizing people in crisis and strengthening mental health resources and access to treatment, housing, respite, and support needed to recover.
- CCIT NYC is committed to a citywide approach and strong partnerships between the police and mental health community.
- Proponents of the CCIT NYC coalition include Community Access, Inc. (www.communityaccess.org); NAMI-NYC (http://www.naminycmetro.org ); Rights for Imprisoned People with Psychiatric Disabilities (http://rippd.org); Project Renewal (www.projectrenewal.org); 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement (http://100blacksinlawenforcement.com); Coalition for the Homeless (http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org); Supportive Housing Network of New York (http://shnny.org); NYAPRS (www.nyaprs.org); and many other housing, mental health and advocacy organizations.
John Williams | (212) 780-1400, ext. 7772| firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Community Access