Chicago votes in favor of removing police from mental health crisis response

In Chicago, the Treatment Not Trauma campaign won overwhelming community support for a non-binding referendum calling for investment in public mental health centers and a non-police crisis response system. Authored by 33rd Ward Alderperson Rossana Rodriguez and conceptualized by a coalition of community groups and stakeholders, the ordinance calls for developing a Chicago crisis response and care system within the Chicago Department of Public Health,

On 8 November, residents of the three wards said “yes” to the Treatment Not Trauma campaign in an overwhelming victory. The 6th, 20th and 33rd Wards received 98 percent, 96 percent And 93 percent “Yes” votes, respectively. The Treat Not Trauma campaign – involving Collaborative for Community Wellness, Southside Together Organizing for Power, 33rd Working Families, DefundCPD, and most importantly, individual community members – through thousands of calls, talks and door knocks from mental health kept up the effort. Professionals, Community Organizers and Residents.

The referendum results counter the idea that black and brown residents of Chicago are opposed to mental health investment and divestment from policing.

And Chicago isn’t the only city where organizers are fighting for non-police mental health responses and mental health care systems. In Ann Arbor, MichiganThe City Council voted in April 2021 to invest $3.5 million in federal stimulus funds into a non-police mental health crisis response system. On November 4, the city officially closed its community engagement survey, which sought input from residents in a community responsibility effort.

Ann Arbor Hopefully will create a system similar to the model CAHOOTS in Eugene, Oregon, Street Crisis Response Team in San Francisco, at MH First Oakland, And B-Herd in New York City, These cities use a non-police crisis response model and dispatch a person trained in medical assistance to help people experiencing a mental health crisis, thereby reducing the frequency of criminalization and harm. This role may be filled by an emergency medical technician (EMT), a social worker, or a member of the community trained in deescalation. in these programs Successfully treated mental health crisis as a public health problemPublic safety is not an issue.

Studies show that people who encounter a police officer while experiencing a mental health crisis 16 times more likely People shot and killed by police are more likely than people not experiencing a mental health crisis. thirty three to 50 percent use of mightAccording to research by the Ruderman Family Foundation, incidents involving a person with a disability are more common.

Election Day campaigners pose for a photo holding a sign to vote yes to reopen our mental health centers at The Breathing Room & Garden in the 20th Ward neighborhood of Garfield Park.
Election Day campaigners pose for a photo with a “Vote YES to reopen our mental health centers” sign at The Breathing Room & Garden in the 20th Ward neighborhood of Garfield Park.

Why Police Are Wrong for the Job

The stigma of mental illness has given rise to a pervasive narrative of the out-of-control, violent mentally ill individual – but in reality, People who have experienced mental illness are more likely to be victims, Mental health calls to emergency services are usually handled by the police, which poses a threat to public health. By placing officers in the position of acting as mental health professionals, local governments put people’s lives at risk, increasing the likelihood of imprisonment and death. In 2021, claims officers trained to use force for compliance 100 remains under a mental health or welfare checks.

Mainstream analysis often attributes mental illness risk factors to individual illnesses without structural analysis of the systems that put people’s lives at risk. to paraphrase Longtime abolitionist political leader Angela Y. Davis, Carceral People disappear from solutions, not problems. prisons have become some of the largest mental health institutions in the United States, Increasing criminalization of black and brown people is compounded by systemic racism and structural inequality. Policing is a reactionary measure rooted in social inequality that enforces white supremacy.

Public health investment can build infrastructure and preventive measures by establishing multiple points of crisis intervention before police involvement. Crisis intervention can include health and trauma care, nutritious food, clean built environments, and more. Mental health distress can be avoided or reduced in severity by meeting basic needs and developing clear care plans. police respond to situations Later They do happen, so preventive measures will create greater opportunities for community empowerment and combating police violence. Although, police budget While many cities continue to grow Public infrastructure investment has declined,

Community members and organizers present petition signatures to the Board of Elections on August 8, 2022 in downtown Chicago, Illinois.
Community members and organizers present petition signatures to the Board of Elections on August 8, 2022 in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

During her 2019 campaign, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot promised to reopen the city,The government has closed mental health centers and provided an additional $25 million in funding to mental health care systems. Instead in 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot gave 60 percent of its discretionary American Savings Plan funds — COVID recovery funds provided by the federal government to the Chicago Police Department. Feather On November 7, Lightfoot continued his mission to invest in policing when his budget was approved by the City Council by a vote of 32–18, an additional $64 million going towards policing,

10 of the original 19 public mental health centers in Chicago were closed between former mayors. Richard Daly And Rahm Emanuel, The city of three million people has five public mental health clinics, where 79 percent of cities have less than 0.2 doctors per 1000 residents, Rahm Emanuel also participated in the cover-up effort. Police killing of Laquan McDonaldA teenager facing a mental health crisis after being shot multiple times by police officers in October 2014. Community members have not forgotten Laquan’s murder and the attempted cover-up as police officers continue to harm young black and brown children.

Heading into Chicago’s local elections in early 2023, the Treatment Not Trauma campaign will call on candidates to support structural mental health investments and demand that the city of Chicago invest in systems of care. Chicago is expected to join cities in running non-police crisis response systems and public mental health centers for all of its residents, not just a few.

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