Chicago Votes in Favor of Removing Police From Mental Health Crisis Response

In Chicago, the Remedy Not Trauma marketing campaign received overwhelming neighborhood help for a non-binding referendum calling for funding in public psychological well being facilities and a non-police disaster response system. Authored by thirty third Ward Alderperson Rossana Rodriguez and envisioned by a coalition of neighborhood teams and stakeholders, the ordinance requires creating a Chicago Crisis Response and Care System within the Chicago Department of Public Health.

On November 8, residents in three wards stated “sure” to the Remedy Not Trauma marketing campaign, for an awesome win. The sixth, twentieth and thirty third wards acquired 98 percent, 96 percent and 93 percent “sure” votes, respectively. The Remedy Not Trauma marketing campaign — which incorporates the Collaborative for Neighborhood Wellness, Southside Collectively Organizing for Energy, thirty third Working Households, DefundCPD, and most vital of all, particular person neighborhood members — sustained the trouble by means of 1000’s of calls, conversations and doorknocks from psychological well being professionals, neighborhood organizers and residents.

The referendum outcomes fight the concept that Black and Brown residents of Chicago are against psychological well being funding and divestment from policing.

And Chicago isn’t the one metropolis the place organizers are preventing for non-police psychological well being responses and psychological well being care programs. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, town council voted in April 2021 to take a position $3.5 million in federal stimulus funding right into a non-police psychological well being disaster response system. On November 4, town formally closed its neighborhood engagement survey, which requested for enter from residents in an effort towards neighborhood accountability.

Ann Arbor will hopefully create a system much like fashions like CAHOOTS in Eugene, Oregon, the Street Crisis Response Team in San Francisco, MH First in Oakland, and B-HEARD in New York City. These cities use a non-police disaster response mannequin and ship an individual educated in medical help to assist individuals experiencing psychological well being crises, lowering the frequency of criminalization and hurt. This position might be crammed by an emergency medical technician (EMT), a social employee or a neighborhood member educated in deescalation. These packages have successfully treated mental health crises as a public health issue, not a public security subject.

Research present that individuals who encounter a police officer whereas experiencing a psychological well being disaster are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than people who find themselves not experiencing a psychological well being disaster. Thirty-three to 50 percent of “use of pressure” incidents contain a disabled particular person, in accordance with analysis by the Ruderman Household Basis.

Election Day canvassers pose for a picture holding a sign saying, Vote YES to reopen our mental health centers at The Breathing Room and Garden in the 20th ward neighborhood of Garfield Park.
Election Day canvassers pose for an image holding an indication saying, “Vote YES to reopen our psychological well being facilities” at The Respiratory Room and Backyard within the twentieth ward neighborhood of Garfield Park.

Why Cops Are Fallacious for the Job

Psychological sickness stigmatization has led to a widespread narrative of the out-of-control, violent mentally sick particular person — however in actuality, people experiencing mental illness are more likely to be victimized. Psychological well being calls to emergency companies are normally dealt with by police, which poses a public well being hazard. By placing officers within the place to behave as psychological well being professionals, native governments endanger individuals’s lives, growing the chance of imprisonment and demise. In 2021, officers educated to make use of pressure for compliance claimed over 100 lives throughout psychological well being or wellness tests.

Mainstream analyses typically attribute the chance elements of psychological sickness to particular person illnesses with no structural evaluation of the programs that put individuals’s lives in danger. To paraphrase longtime abolitionist political chief Angela Y. Davis, carceral options solely disappear individuals, not issues. Prisons have become some of the largest mental health institutions in the United States, with systemic racism and structural inequality exacerbating the criminalization of Black and Brown individuals. Policing is a reactionary measure rooted in social inequality that enforces white supremacy.

Public well being funding might create infrastructure and preventative measures by establishing a number of factors of disaster intervention earlier than police involvement. Disaster intervention might embody entry to well being and trauma care, nutritious meals, clear constructed environments, and extra. Psychological well being crises might be mitigated or decreased in severity by assembly primary wants and creating clear care plans. Police reply to conditions after they happen, so preventative measures would create extra alternatives for neighborhood empowerment and combatting police violence. Nonetheless, police budgets proceed to extend in lots of cities whereas public infrastructure investment has declined.

Community members and organizers submit petition signatures to the board of elections in downtown Chicago, Illinois, on August 8, 2022.
Neighborhood members and organizers submit petition signatures to the board of elections in downtown Chicago, Illinois, on August 8, 2022.

Throughout her 2019 marketing campaign run, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot promised to reopen the citys closed mental health centers and fund an additional $25 million in mental health care systems. As an alternative in 2020, within the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot gave 60 percent of its discretionary American Rescue Plan funds — COVID restoration funds supplied by the federal authorities — to the Chicago Police Division. On November 7, Lightfoot continued her mission to spend money on policing when her price range was accepted by town council by a vote of 32-18, with an extra $64 million going towards policing.

Of the unique 19 public psychological well being facilities in Chicago, 10 had been shut down between former mayors Richard Daley and Rahm Emanuel. 5 public psychological well being clinics stay in a metropolis of three million individuals, the place 79 percent of the city has less than 0.2 therapists per 1000 residents. Rahm Emanuel additionally participated in an tried cover-up of the police killing of Laquan McDonald, a teen experiencing a psychological well being disaster, after he was shot a number of occasions by law enforcement officials in October 2014. Neighborhood members haven’t forgotten the killing of Laquan and the tried cover-up as law enforcement officials proceed to hurt younger Black and Brown youngsters.

Going ahead into Chicago’s native elections in early 2023, the Remedy Not Trauma marketing campaign will probably be calling on candidates to help structural psychological well being funding and demand that the Metropolis of Chicago spend money on programs of care. Chicago will hopefully be among the many ranks of cities working non-police disaster response programs and public psychological well being facilities for all of its residents, not simply the few.