Daniel Prude’s Law is overdue and will work

Daniel Prude’s Law is overdue and will work

[6/13/20. (l-r) Chennel Anderson, Frederick Douglass and Kelly Linn Kreider. Olivia Kim’s statue outside the College at Brockport’s Educational Opportunity Program on Court Street. [Photo: David Kramer from What is it to be “Woke?” ]

In What is it to be “Woke?”, we met Kelly Linn Kreider, a student in the Department of Social Work program at Roberts Wesleyan College. Today, Kelly offers a letter in support of Daniel’s Law.

Dear Editor,

Like many Rochestarians, I watched in horror the footage of Daniel Prude, naked and suffering from asphyxia — later dying — after police detained him during a mental health and substance use crisis. I wondered what could be done to prevent similar tragedies, ones occurring all too often.

Every year more than 1 in 5 New Yorkers experience symptoms of a mental health disorder. 1.9 million New Yorkers have a substance use problem.¹ Most likely, nearly everyone in our community knows someone touched by mental illness and addiction.

Our current system places law enforcement officers in the role of responding to mental health and substance use calls. For chronically ill community members, this system has led to the mass incarceration and even death.

S4814, Daniel’s Law, is set to change the way our community and state handle people experiencing a mental health crisis. Developed by Senator Samra Brouk of New York’s 55th district in partnership with community organizers, the bill includes creating both state and regional mental health councils, response units for mental health emergencies, and culturally competent education for SUNY students pursuing mental health careers.

11/03/20 Mt. Hope Cemetery. Bryan and Samra Brouk at the gravesite of Susan B. Anthony [Photo: David Kramer from The People Have Spoken]

New Yorkers deserve the best and most competent care when experiencing a crisis. Law enforcement officers are not trained mental health professionals, and having a mental health crisis is not against the law. Therefore, it is only logical that law enforcement officers should not be handling these calls. Reimagining our community and creating an emergency response team to de-escalate situations, communicate in culturally competent ways, and gaining consent before transportation are all essential and critical for our public health structure.

Regardless of political affiliation, this bill ultimately is an investment for our community. S4814 provides safety for some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers and saves taxpayers billions of dollars annually. Our current system costs taxpayers $500 million per year to incarcerate people with serious mental illnesses. The total yearly economic burden of serious mental illness in New York is $29.7 billion; due mostly to lost productivity in the money earning market.³

Investing in the proper care of these community members offers huge financial and social returns by freeing up law enforcement officers to handle actual crime, avoiding lawsuits in mental health related calls, and rebuilding trust within the community to call on police when in danger. Daniel’s Law — based on the best practices of the mental health profession — will work. Rochester has the opportunity to be a frontrunner and example to our state and country on how to reimagine policing and mental health care. I believe supporting S4814 is a significant step in this direction, and could be a unifying bill in a very divided political climate.

As an aspiring social worker at Roberts Wesleyan College, I welcome the opportunity to use my training to help people in their moments of greatest need.

— Kelly lives in Honeoye Falls with her husband and two children.

NOTES

¹ THE COST OF MENTAL ILLNESS: NEW YORK FACTS AND FIGURES, (USC Shaeffer)

² The New York Senate

³ New York State Department of Health

SEE ALSO 

What is it to be “Woke?”

Police Use of Pepper Spray on Child Reflects a Communal Failure

About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, and the CITY.  My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

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