Bill de Blasio has feuded with the New York Police Department virtually since the day he took office. The socialist mayor’s war with New York’s Finest has frequently spilled out into the open, with cops turning their back on him and the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association president calling for his resignation in August.
The pandemic and subsequent calls to defund the police gave Hizzoner exactly the political cover he wanted earlier this year and de Blasio seized the opportunity, cutting the police force’s budget by a full $1 billion.
“We normally see a 30% increase in shootings in the summer. This year it was a 150%, 180% increase. It was just out of control.”
As of Sunday, there was a 33.2% increase in the number of murders compared to the same time last year, according to city crime statistics.
Who could have possibly predicted such an outcome?
Now, though, with less money going toward the boys (and girls) in blue and the Mayor’s deep desire for a kinder, gentler brand of law enforcement, the city will pilot a new program that will answer some 911 calls not with cops, but with mental health professionals.
From NBC New York:
For the first time in the city’s history, Mayor de Blasio announced Tuesday that the new mental health professionals and crisis workers will be the dispatched through 911, instead of the NYPD, to respond to mental health emergencies in two high-need communities — calling the pilot program a “major innovation.” …
“One in five New Yorkers struggle with a mental health condition. Now, more than ever, we must do everything we can to reach those people before crisis strikes,” de Blasio said. “For the first time in our city’s history, health responders will be the default responders for a person in crisis, making sure those struggling with mental illness receive the help they need.”
The new program will be beta tested in two “high-need” areas of the city. According to de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray,
“…we have retrained tens of thousands of NYPD officers in crisis intervention, helping them to better recognize signs of emotional distress and how to deescalate tense situations. With these mental health teams, we will test the model where we relieve police officers of those responsibilities, which in many cases, they should have never been asked to shoulder.”
What will happen if the person who’s exhibiting a mental health problem turns violent? “In those cases where police are needed to protect lives, they will also be a part of our response.”
In the pilot program, most such calls will be answered by social workers and mental-health-crisis workers employed by the city. NYPD will be included in such responses only in cases where there is a clear threat of violence…
Exactly how that will be determined when 911 takes an emergency call isn’t really clear. Many of these instances are called in as domestic dispute or domestic violence calls. These are considered some of the most volatile and dangerous calls police deal with. Situations that start out as shouting matches can quickly escalate into very dangerous encounters, both for the civilians and the responders.
How will these mental health professionals deal with people who turn violent? Will they have the training and equipment to defend themselves and others? Will they just dial 911 again if things go south? What could possibly go wrong?