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Mental health advocates call for police crisis training

Mental health advocates are calling for $2 million in the state budget to adopt the “Memphis Model,” a program which helps limit bad outcomes between police and people with mental illness under distress.

“In Memphis they were having a great amount of problems where the police were not dealing well with the mentally ill people and there were tragedies, deaths and avoidable incarcerations,”  Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, told WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom.Major Sam Cochran developed a model where he trained police and gave them 40 hours of mental health training, soup to nuts–everything you would need to know to better understand what is going on with a person in mental health distress. They also worked with the mental health system to be more responsive. So when the police–who are first responders in these situations–arrived, they armed them to give a better response and deescalate, not escalate, the situation.”

Rosenthal said, “We are asking for $2 million: $.5 million to set up a center of excellence in crisis intervention; then we have $1.5 million to get the start-up grants. Those grants pay for themselves because you get the police trained, you get the mental health system more responsive and you see a drop in tragedies and incarcerations–just the financial cost of incarcerations.”

The model is successful in major cities like Memphis, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

Listen to The Capitol Pressroom  here.

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