January 26, 2023
CONTACT: Mariah McGough, firstname.lastname@example.org
DANIEL’S LAW: LAWMAKERS AND ADVOCATES CALL FOR LEGISLATION TO PROTECT PEOPLE EXPERIENCING MENTAL HEALTH CRISES
At Wednesday’s Advocacy Day, More than 100 Advocates Called for Daniel’s Law, Which Would Change Police Response and Protect Those Who are Experiencing Mental Health Crises
NEW YORK — Following a press conference today with lawmakers, directly impacted people, advocates, mental health experts and elected representatives calling on state lawmakers to pass Daniel’s Law, VOCAL-NY and advocates released the following statements:
“The events of March 23, 2020 changed my life. When I called 911 I told them Daniel wasn’t a danger to anyone, that he just needed help,” said Joe Prude, brother of Daniel Prude. “I just wish there was somebody else we could’ve called to help him. If a crisis response team with mental health professionals were first responders at the time, I know that my brother would still be alive today. That’s why it’s important for Daniel’s Law to be passed. It’ll make sure that the next family that needs help can reach out for support, without worrying about the police showing up and killing their loved one.”
“We need to pass Daniel’s Law to transform our mental health and substance use crisis system by empowering localities to provide crisis services in a way that makes sense for the region,” said Senator Samra Brouk. “Named for Daniel Prude, who was killed at the hands of law enforcement during a mental health crisis, Daniel’s Law would ensure that every New Yorker receives the treatment and compassion they are seeking—not deadly force.”
“Members of our community, including those from Black Lives Matter, Free the People Roc, and the Rochester Clergy, were letting their voices be heard to all that would listen and calling for change. I am committed to justice, equality, and change with the belief that if we work together, we can make a difference,” said Assemblymember Harry Bronson. “Daniel’s Law will promote the public health, safety and welfare of all families by broadly ensuring a public health-based response to anyone in New York experiencing a mental health or alcohol use or substance abuse crisis; to offer and ensure the most appropriate response to, treatment of, and transport of individuals experiencing crisis due to mental health conditions or substance use; and to deescalate crisis situations so that as few New Yorkers as possible experience nonconsensual transport, use of force, or criminal consequences as a result of mental health or substance abuse crisis. Together we can ensure this kind of tragedy does not repeat itself in our community, in our state or nation.”
“Almost three years ago, our community was forever changed when we found out Daniel Prude was killed by RPD while experiencing a mental health crisis,” said Ashley Gantt, organizer with Free The People Roc. “So many families spoke out and shared similar stories about the harm they’ve experienced at the hands of police when they called for help. We knew then, that systemic change was needed to save lives and prevent further harm. Daniel’s Law transforms our system. It humanizes people with mental health and substance use diagnoses. It recognizes that they’re not criminals and that they are people deserving of care and compassion.”
“In the throes of crisis, de-escalation is necessary and time and again we are seeing our most vulnerable harmed or even killed,” said Felix Guzman, a leader with VOCAL-NY’s Civil Rights Union. “A law enforcement response isn’t the answer to a medical emergency. The fear of death by police is deterrent enough for people to not call for for their loved ones and neighbors. In not providing a medical response to public health crises, we are effectively giving the green light for more death by police headlines. Daniel’s Law is life-saving legislation. It’s a logical approach to a manufactured problem. We don’t task doctors to arrest anyone, and and such we definitely don’t want law enforcement to address health issues. The job descriptions for both occupations require adherence to oaths and are very distinct as such. Law and medicine don’t mix well.”
“Police are not the answer to mental health crises. When our friends, neighbors, or community members are experiencing a mental health crisis, they deserve to be treated with compassion, care, and understanding, not cops threatening force or jail. We must immediately create safer alternatives and provide consistent supports and services for our communities. Legislators can honor the memory of Daniel Prude, and prevent more unnecessary and tragic deaths at the hands of police, by passing Daniel’s Law,” said Shay Herbert, organizer at the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“Passage of Daniel’s Law will be an essential measure to aid people and families in crisis and their communities — especially for communities of color who have utterly been failed by state and local mental health systems for generations,” said Luke Sikinyi, Public Policy Director for the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. “Daniel’s Law will give New Yorkers in mental health crises an appropriate proven path to getting the help they need and deserve by addressing their mental health, substance use and related medical needs by providing people with immediate access to those who are best suited to help them: Peers and EMTs.”
“The time for Daniel’s Law is way overdue,” said Ruth Lowenkron, Director of the Disability Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “We cannot allow one more death at the hands of the police of an individual experiencing a mental health crisis; New York must transform its mental health crisis response system now!”
Two years ago, on March 23rd, 2020, Daniel Prude was killed by RPD while experiencing a mental health crisis. Daniel’s Law, Sponsored by Senator Samra Brouk, and Assembly Member Harry Bronson, would create the infrastructure necessary to replace police officers with mental health workers, peers and EMT’s, as first responders to mental health crises.