Editorial — Different response: Psychological well being professionals to deal with some New York Metropolis 911 calls | Editorials


Nationwide protests this year against reported cases of police brutality have rightly led to calls for a review of how law enforcement proceedings can be made more effective.

Civil servants have taken on much more responsibility due to the significant cuts in social services by local governments over the past few decades. In some communities they answer practically every emergency call – whether a police response is required or not.

It is fair to remember that posting law enforcement officers is not appropriate in all cases. Other professionals such as counselors or social workers may be better suited to specific situations.

A few months ago, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced measures to reform the policies and procedures that affect the functioning of law enforcement agencies. He signed draft bills to ensure more transparency about officers’ disciplinary records, banning chokeholds, banning race-based 911 reports that were found to be false, and designating the attorney general as the independent prosecutor for matters related to the death of unarmed civilians, caused by law enforcement officers According to a governor’s press release on June 12.

He also signed an executive order establishing the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. This requires that “local police authorities … develop a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their community based on community contributions. Every police agency’s reform plan must address policies, procedures, practices and operations, including but not limited to the use of force, ”the press release said.

The Executive Ordinance calls on all police authorities to involve stakeholders in a public and open process for police strategies and tools. submit to the public a plan of the Director General and the Head of the Local Police for comment; After reviewing any comments, submit this plan to the local legislature (council or legislature, if applicable) that approved this plan (either by local law or by resolution). and have the plan certified by April 1 to ensure the police are still eligible to receive future government funding.

New York City will launch a pilot program in some areas early next year to test some of its police reform proposals. This could serve as a model for other communities across the state as they consider what changes to make in law enforcement.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Nov. 10 that mental health authorities would respond to calls specifically related to mental health situations in two districts of the New York City Police Department. The program starts in February.

“Mental emergencies accounted for 171,490 911 calls in the city in 2019,” read a story published Nov. 10 by the Wall Street Journal. “Under existing protocols, 911 calls reporting people suffering from emotional distress are answered by officers from the New York City Police Department and New York Fire Department ambulance workers. As part of the pilot, which will be launched at no additional cost to the city, the majority of these calls will be answered by social workers and mental health workers employed in the city. The NYPD is only considered in such responses in cases where there has been a clear threat of violence, officials said. According to the officials, these cases make up a small minority of such emergency calls. “

It remains to be seen whether this idea will achieve the city’s goals. But officials are wise to initiate it on a limited basis. We will see what solutions this program offers to some police problems.

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