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Medical Experts, Not Police, Will Respond to Select 911 Calls In New York City

Part of a pilot program to launch in at-need communities.

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Medical Experts, Not Police, Will Respond to Select 911 Calls In New York City

Part of a pilot program to launch in at-need communities.

In an effort to better address public health — specifically, mental healthNew York City will begin sending medical teams instead of police officers to respond to select 911 calls.

Announced by the city’s First Lady Chirlane McCray, the new initiative will train specialized teams consisting of EMS responders and mental health crisis workers to deescalate certain situations. Police officers would be dispatched as backup in cases involving a weapon or threats of violence. The new plan will be implemented next year under a pilot program to launch in at-need communities, the names of which have not been specified.

According to McCray, the goal of the program is to treat mental health crises as health issues instead of public safety problems. Its announcement comes after police fatally shot several mentally ill individuals, overwhelmingly Black men. The latest incident occurred in Philadelphia — Walter Wallace Jr., who had bipolar disorder and was in crisis, was shot and killed by police after a 911 call requesting an ambulance was placed. According to an attorney for Wallace’s family, the ambulance never arrived.

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