NEW YORK, Feb. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, February 19 at 11 a.m., State Senator Kevin Parker joined Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, and the Communities for Crisis Intervention Teams (www.ccitnyc.org) – a coalition of 50 behavioral health providers and concerned citizens – to call for the creation of specially trained Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs) that can partner with police officers to help better respond to the 100,000 "emotionally disturbed person" (EDP) calls the New York Police Department (NYPD) receives each year.
During a City Hall press conference, Senator Parker announced a new bill (S6365) he has introduced, and outlined why its successful passage will greatly improve police/community relations throughout New York City – through the establishment of new CITs, better police training, and more substantial police/community partnerships. Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry, is introducing the same legislation in the Assembly.
Senator Parker shared: "When the NYPD receives a call related to an 'emotionally disturbed person' (EDP), that person is usually experiencing mental health issues or substance abuse problems, or both, but too often those calls can result in an unnecessary arrest, emotional abuse or worse. My bill, S6365, would require training for the NYPD to enable it to respond to EDP calls in a manner that increases the safety of the 'emotionally disturbed' citizen and the police officer, and bystanders, and create better outcomes for all."
The CIT model has a proven track record and has already been adopted by 2,700 police departments across the United States, including in two of our four biggest cities: Chicago and Houston. By establishing closer ties between the police and mental health recipients, and by making trained mental health professionals part of the response to EDP calls, CITs equip frontline officers with the tools they need to successfully de-escalate crisis situations, and divert distressed individuals away from a criminal justice system that is over-stretched and ill-equipped to help.
Elected officials backing plans to introduce CITs in New York City include Council Member Rosie Mendez: "The creation of Crisis Intervention Teams would bring a welcome solution to an existing problem affecting mental health consumers and their interactions with police officers. All too often, we have seen NYC police officers escalate a situation where community residents and family members have called for police assistance. Ensuring referrals to mental health service providers or providing alternatives to incarceration through Crisis Intervention Teams will bring needed services to mental health consumers and result in better community/police relations." And Council Member Jumaane Williams: "I have long advocated for improved policing. These well-trained Crisis Intervention Teams are critical to ensuring that those who may be experiencing an emotional impairment are not presumed to be a threat to an officer, and therefore risk arrest or injury. In these situations, trained officials must be at the ready to see that people get the help that they need. I am proud to support legislation that would accomplish this goal."
Steve Coe, CEO of Community Access, Inc. (www.communityaccess.org) – NYC's leading housing, advocacy and social justice nonprofit for mental health consumers – shared why Community Access has taken a lead role in organizing the CCIT coalition and the importance of partnership and collaboration between CITs and the NYPD: "For 40 years, Community Access has built homes for thousands of New York City's most vulnerable citizens. We want the police and community members experiencing emotional crises to have a system in place that promotes safety, security, and emotional and physical well-being. CIT models have worked well in hundreds of cities around the nation, and now is the time to bring them to New York City."
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 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 (www.naminycmetro.org); Project Renewal (www.projectrenewal.org); 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement (http://100blacksinlawenforcement.com); Coalition for the Homeless (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.
- New York Times: Professors Detail Brutal Tangle With Police (article about Suzanne LaFont, victim of a traumatizing police-EDP encounter)
- Brooklyn News12: Family of Rexford Dasrath, a special needs man killed by NYPD officers, holds rally for families of victims of police shootings
- CBS New York: Experts, Lawyers Want Changes To NYPD Response To Emotionally Disturbed People
- Epoch Times: Hit by Stray NYPD Bullet, a Victim Turns to Advocacy (article about Sahar Khoshakhlagh, victim of a traumatizing police-EDP encounter).
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SOURCE Community Access