NYPD cops and civilian mental-health workers will respond to 911 calls about emotionally disturbed people as part of a $37 million plan Mayor de Blasio announced on Monday.
The groundbreaking initiative will involve emergencies in two “high-need” precincts, the 25th in Manhattan’s East Harlem and the 47th in the northern part of The Bronx, City Hall said.
Each precinct will get two “Co-Response Teams,” composed of a pair of cops and a counselor. The teams, when up and running, will end the current policy of only sending cops or paramedics to respond to 911 calls about deranged individuals.
The NYPD will also create a “Behavioral Health Unit” and use newly hired Health Department workers who have previously struggled with psychological problems to help train its Emergency Services Unit, City Hall said.
The planned moves follow the recent release of a scathing report by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams that blamed de Blasio’s inaction on the city’s mental-health crisis for the fatal police shootings of at least 15 unhinged people in the past three years.
The new program will fall under the umbrella of First Lady Chirlane McCray’s controversial and costly ThriveNYC mental-health initiative, which has come under fire for failing to produce measurable results despite its $250-million-a-year price tag.
City Councilman Robert Holden (D–Queens) said, “ThriveNYC was supposed to ‘close the gaps’ in the city’s mental-health services, but it’s now apparent that nearly $1 billion over the next four years was not enough to accomplish that.”
Holden added, “This mayor continues to cost the taxpayers of this city tens of millions of dollars every time he realizes that one of his programs is not working.”
Williams criticized de Blasio’s focus on providing the NYPD with additional resources, saying, “We need a non-police first response to mental health crises, and this plan does not even put us on a path toward that goal.”
Law-enforcement sources also said that pairing cops with counselors was a recipe for disaster, with one warning that “some innocent person is going to die real soon with this program.”