BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Mayor Byron Brown has announced a joint effort between the Buffalo Police Department and Endeavor Health Services to better deal with mental health calls. The Behavioral Health Team will be made up of 6 officers, 2 lieutenants, 3 clinicians and a program supervisor.
The Police Benevolent Association has approved a new, year long partnership between the Buffalo Police Department and Endeavor Health Services, according to Buffalo Police representative. Social workers will partner with officers on mental health and substance abuse related calls.
The Buffalo Common Council approved the partnership at the beginning of July. The Police Benevolent Association did not give approval until Friday.The Buffalo Common Council approved the partnership at the beginning of July. The Police Benevolent Association did not give approval until Friday.
This approval comes days after a Buffalo Police officer shot a man suffering a mental health crisis after he struck an officer with bat Saturday, although this partnership had been in development for months. The 60-year-old man is in stable condition at ECMC. Protestors demanded reform Sunday with the main message of "defund the police and refund the community.”
"We will continue to review the video of the reports of individuals who were on the scene Saturday and incorporate those lessons into how the Buffalo Police Department responds better. The BHT is a step in that direction," Mayor Brown said.
Social workers will work side by side with officers at no cost to the city. Endeavor was awarded a grant allowing the company to hire three social workers to work with the Buffalo Police Department. The social workers will be part of the Buffalo Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team which has been providing officers mental health training.
Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen said this is not enough because the BHT will only operate Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"I believe we need 24 hour, 7 day a week somebody being ready to go during a crisis," Common Council President Pridgen said.