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New York City will send mental health teams instead of police to respond to some 911 calls

The mental health teams will be deployed in February in two high-need communities that have been hard hit by Covid-19.
Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 10:47 PM EST
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(CNN) New York City is creating new teams to respond to emergency mental health calls instead of police, as part of a pilot program that will launch next year.

The teams will consist of EMS health workers and mental health crisis workers that will be dispatched through the city’s 911 system, officials announced on Tuesday. Police officers would be dispatched as backup in cases where a subject has a weapon or is threatening violence.

There were more than 170,000 mental health calls to the city’s 911 call center last year -- an estimated one call every three minutes -- and the majority involved “people who just needed help,” said Chirlane McCray, the city’s first lady.

It is not clear how many of those calls would fall under the new program.

The mental health teams will be deployed in February in two high-need communities that have been hard hit by Covid-19. The communities were not identified.

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