SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Pioneer Valley Project held a rally Wednesday to call for the creation of a new model to deal with non-violent emergencies instead of sending armed police officers.
The organization is calling on city officials to create a crisis response team and to allocate $250,000 in the Springfield FY22 Budget to support the services.
Rather than an armed police officer responding to a mental health crisis, the response team would include a medic and a crisis worker trained in de-escalation, to respond to mental health crises such as intoxication, drug overdose, and suicide risk.
David Finklestein, of the Pioneer Valley Project, told 22News, “We urge you to seize this opportunity to improve public safety in Springfield and get people in non-violent crisis situations the services that they really need.”
A statement from Springfield Police spokesman Ryan Walsh reads in part:
“Since 2019, Springfield Police officers and Behavioral Health Network Clinicians have co-responded to mental health calls. While we will continue to pilot these unique programs, what we see here and elsewhere is at the least a co-response will be necessary for calls that are less likely to become violent for the safety of everyone involved.”Springfield Police Department