Calling non-police professionals for some emergencies is a growing trend in America, The Washington Post reports.
The movement uses new tactics of non-police responses to mental health and domestic abuse calls.
California has enacted the Crises Act, which allows public money to be used to fund community organizations that can respond to such calls. Policy Link is a California-based organization that helped advocate for the Crisis Act.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Crises Act in October 2021.
“We are trying to really build up our community-based infrastructure to respond in ways that are rooted in healing and creating safety that comes from what survivors want and see as safety rather than what the punishment system is determining,” said Sybil Grant, a senior associate of Policy Link.
Anne Patterson, vice president of Steps, has seen the needs of survivors of intimate partner abuse often go unaddressed. And though non-police alternatives are not widely available now, she’s enthused about the emerging models going forward, said the report.
The Anti-Violence Project (AVP), another New York City-based organization, provides an around-the- clock hotline for the LGBTQ community, who are also victims of intimate partner abuse. They are faced with specific barriers like misconduct when interacting with the police, said The Post.
“I’m not saying to eradicate the police right now because there are some kinds of situations that do require that level of intervention,” said Marcel Woodruff, a community organizer in California’s Central Valley.
Survivors are saying, “We want that tool [police] to be in the toolbox, we just don’t want it to be the only tool. They are saying let us choose when to call the police and when not to,” said Monica Moran, who manages domistic violence prevention services for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission mission in Massachusetts.
Women face the risk of incarceration along with their abusers, the article said. An Ohio woman faced failure-to-protect charges, after reporting that her husband sexually abused their children, The Post noted. She could lose custody of her children if convicted.
“There are many cases where a survivor is being harmed by someone that they love, and they want that person to receive mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment and be able to heal in a safe place,” said Ivette Ale of Dignity and Power Now, a Los Angeles–based organization.
A 2015 study found that 66% of those who called police on their abuser were afraid to notify authorities in the future; 14% said they would call law enforcement next time, said The Post.
Similar domestic violence programs operate successfully in the United Kingdom, Australia, Columbia, and other countries, reported The Post.