Credit: Bill Moore photo

Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams is calling for the passage of his bill to create a three-digit hotline used for mental health emergencies, as an alternative to 911, at a hearing of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction on Monday. The new number––988––would help ensure that mental health crises are met by health professionals, rather than law enforcement.

The bill, Intro 2222, would require the Office of Community Mental Health––which would be separately established under legislation from Council Member Diana Ayala––to institute the hotline staffed by mental health call operators. The Office would train call operators in the mental health emergency response protocol and conduct public outreach and education publicizing the 988 number.

In the past six years, at least 16 people undergoing a mental health crisis were killed by NYPD officers––notably, 14 were people of color. Prominent cases in recent years have included Deborah Danner, Mohamed Bah, Saheed Vassell, Dwayne Jeune and Kawaski Trawick, among others.