NY1: Emergency mental health pilot program to launch this spring in Harlem and East Harlem
The city plans to have mental health experts and EMTs answer 911 calls about people having a mental health crisis starting this spring.
NY1 has learned that the pilot program will be in Harlem and East Harlem in the areas patrolled by the 25th, 28th and 32nd precincts. City social workers and FDNY EMTs will be the response to non-violent mental health emergencies for the first time in NYC’s history instead of NYPD officers. The goal is to de-escalate situations and get people help.
The Harlem and East Harlem neighborhoods had just over 9,000 mental health 911 calls in 2019. That’s the second highest number of calls in the city.
The NYPD will still respond to mental health emergencies involving weapons or violence.
Thrive NYC, which is a part of the mayor’s office, is running the program and says it’s in the process of hiring and training.
In 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised changes to the response to people with mental illness after 66-year-old Deborah Danner was shot and killed in her home by a police sergeant. The officer said she was swinging a bat at him.