A bill to set up a pilot program in which community-level organizations will act as first responders instead of the police is just waiting for Governor Gavin Newsom's signature.
Act AB 2054 – the CRISES Act – drafted by Congregation member Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), was passed by both Houses of California with near-unanimous and bipartisan support. The bill is co-sponsored by 13 organizations and includes family members of people killed by the police, lawyers and experts in non-police crisis response.
"Law enforcement has become the solution to societal problems that should not require police involvement," said Kamlager. “The CRISES Act limits unnecessary interactions with the police by offering alternatives to police involvement. The pilot program will provide a humane and German emergency response to address the root of the problems. "
"Interactions with the police can be frightening for communities that have historically been traumatized by law enforcement," Kamlager continued. "These interactions can also be fatal, as we all too often see."
"Police violence is one of the leading causes of death for young blacks," said Kamlager. "The police are 16 times more likely to kill people with untreated mental illnesses such as schizophrenia than people without mental health problems."
Asantewaa Boykin is an emergency room registered nurse and co-founder of Mental Health First in Sacramento, founded to provide non-punitive, patient-centered crisis intervention to those experiencing a mental health crisis.
"The increased stress of surviving a pandemic has meant that the increase brings psychological problems with it," noted Boykin.
“We all know someone, love someone or live with mental illness. I can imagine that at a time of crisis, we would all prefer our loved one or ourselves to be lifted up with a kind hand rather than handcuffs. “She shared.
Despite the positive impact and cost savings of community response to emergencies, California has done little to offer and support this effort. Instead, law enforcement officers respond to emergencies that are better suited to peer support professionals or crisis counselors trained to de-escalate and resolve crises. Community-based services must be part of the network of emergency networks.
In cities across the state, community organizations have been successful in responding to situations involving the out of residence, people exposed to violence, people suffering from substance abuse, and other issues.
“This is not a new effort. Many color communities, especially indigenous and black communities, have organically developed and implemented similar care systems for years, ”said Ellie Virrueta, with Youth Justice Coalition and STOP Coalition, co-sponsors of the law. Virrueta's 14-year-old cousin was killed by police.
“Not only have we done this work without financial support, but we also have the trust and relationships it takes to nurture and nurture our community. AB2054 will fund solutions to save lives by investing in community-based alternatives. "
Law enforcement officials have expressed frustration and a desire to focus on public safety emergencies and a preference for trained health professionals to respond to the type of crises this legislation applies to.
"Other state and federal legislators see the legislation as a model," said Kamlager. “We have the opportunity to break away from the tired status quo, which results in unarmed black men being shot in front of their children and hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets to protest during a pandemic. This bill is an opportunity to promote racial justice in California. I hope our governor takes it. "
A variety of organizations, cities, and government officials support the CRISES Act. The invoice has not received an objection.