ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Local officials announced Wednesday the creation of a crisis intervention program whose goal is to create a non-police response to 911 calls regarding mental health and domestic violence.
“We realize that there were gaps that we found as we began to bring people to the table in this work, especially around homicides in this community,” said Rochester City Councilman Willie Lightfoot Jr. “We put forth an idea to bring fourth our first mobile trauma unit here in Rochester. We purchased a vehicle that were getting ready to launch very soon that will be responding to the scenes to help deal with the trauma that gun violence has caused in this community.”
Lightfood Jr. says this crisis intervention unit will help people from meeting the same fate that Daniel Prude met. “We’re trying to work and move into a direction where what happened to the Prude family will never happen,” Lightfoot Jr. said.
There will be two teams of mental health professionals — one, a homicide response team, the other to deal with mental health and domestic violence related emergencies.
Both teams should be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
According to the Commissioner of the Department of Recreation and Youth Services Dr. Daniele Lyman-Torres, when someone calls 911, a dispatcher will screen the call and decide whether to send a mental health professional instead of police. Then, when counselors arrive on the scene, those counselors will determine whether it’s safe, or whether they need to get police involved.
“We know that the professionals who have long worked in FACIT and victims assistance will continue to do their work in serving the community, but doing it together in a unit that is connected to but not led by law-enforcement,” Lyman-Torres said.
Funding for this crisis intervention team comes from a transfer of about $680,000 from the Rochester Police Department budget and $300,000 from the cities contingency budget. City leaders hope to launch the program by October.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren was scheduled to make an appearance at this announcement, but was not there.
It would have been the mayor’s first public appearance since Monday when she announced a “comprehensive” review of the Daniel Prude death in March, the end of the police chief’s tenure, and the suspension of high-ranking city employees. Mayor Warren did not take questions from media Monday.
On Wednesday morning, Rochester police officers arrived at City Hall to break up demonstrators who were occupying City Hall for over 24 hours, demanding the resignation of the mayor, Deputy Mayor James Smith, District Attorney Sandra Doorley as well as the following:
- The firing, prosecution and conviction of all seven officers involved; Mark
Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris,
Sgt. Michael Magri, Paul Ricotta.
- Drop criminal charges against all protesters arrested or charged since May 30th.
- The removal of Mark Simmons as appointed Interim Chief of Police.
- Pass Daniel’s Law prohibiting police from responding to mental health calls. The
state must ensure that trained mental health providers respond to those who are
having a mental health crisis.
- Immediately end and prohibit the use of chemical weapons by RPD.
- Cut RPDs budget and reallocate resources into community-led services for true
public safety, education and ending poverty and root causes of violence.
- End the City of Rochester’s contract with the Locust Club.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.
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