NYC's New Mental Health Response Pilot Program Location Revealed

CBS2's Andrea Grymes has more on what it will mean for the NYPD.

Video Transcript

The city set to launch a new pilot program that takes the NYPD out of responding to 911 calls tied to mental health.

- It's an effort to improve safety and service. CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports.

ANDREA GRYMES: Police officers in Harlem will soon stop responding to 911 calls involving people who are mentally ill-- unless there's a weapon involved or imminent risk of harm.

Instead, in the 25th, 28th, and 32nd Precincts, a specially trained team of one social worker and two FDNY EMTs will respond as part of a new pilot program.

SUSAN HERMAN: This zone was chosen because it has a very high volume of mental health crisis calls.

ANDREA GRYMES: The news of where this program would launch came from Susan Herman, the director of ThriveNYC, the mayor's controversial mental health office. She appeared to get ahead of the boss himself, who was asked again today about location.

- That's absolutely about to be clarified. I think it's going to prove to be extraordinarily effective and necessary.

ANDREA GRYMES: Herman says the pilot will start this spring. Currently police and EMS respond to each call.

JUMAANE WILLIAMS: For far too long, our city's response to mental health calls has been a failure.

ANDREA GRYMES: Lawmakers point to cases like Dwayne Jeune in Brooklyn, who suffered from mental illness and was killed by police when he charged at them with a knife.

One proposed city council bill would establish a three-digit mental health emergency hotline. The other, in part, would establish a citywide mental health emergency response protocol. The NYPD would only be involved if there's a public safety emergency. Critics say that's too broad.

As for the mayor's pilot, when it was announced last year, the EMS Union had big concerns about safety. The union president says before it moves forward, he must ensure the security of his workforce.

In Harlem Andrea, Grymes, CBS2 News.

- And FDNY EMS currently responds to more than 150,000 mental health emergencies each year.