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Daniel's Law is reimagining the response to mental health crises

Daniel's Day: changing crisis response
Posted at 11:53 PM, Sep 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-20 23:53:02-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — There is a push to change how police around the state are responding to mental health crises. Advocates for this change held a town hall at the Johnnie B. Willey Pavilion to honor the life of Daniel Prude, who died at the hands of police when they violently arrested him in March 2020.

"I watched very closely how they mishandled my brother and the whole world watched it," said Joe Prude, Daniel Prude's brother. "Let's not let history continue to repeat itself. Let's change that format now."

Several communities all across New York State are standing behind Prude. Cities like Rochester, Brooklyn, Albany and Buffalo have all joined in on the conversation of wha they'd like change to look like.

"Really reimagining public safety," said Alia Williams. "Having conversations around police no longer responding to mental health calls and actually having mental health professionals respond to those calls."

Alia Williams is an organizer at Voice Buffalo and she said the purpose of Daniel's Day is to not only honor Daniel Prude, but to educate people about what mental health resources are available and push for to establish more of them.

"It's really important because this bill and so many others would save lives," said Williams.

Advocates are working to pass Daniel's Law. They said this Law would call for police to be removed as the default response to mental health and substance use crises. They are also hoping to implement a community responder team or CRT. The CRT would be composed of one peer, one licensed clinician and one medic

"A community responder team (CRT) should be piloted in Erie County composed of
  • one peer
  • one licensed clinician (such as a social worker or mental health counselor)
  • and one medic (such as a nurse or certified EMT)
to respond to low-risk 911 calls that often have a behavioral health component"
Daniel Prude's Family and Coalition

Kartika Carr, Government Affairs for Best Self Behavioral Health said this resource would be beneficial especially in underrepresented communities.

"I think in black and brown communities we experience a lot of trauma that is undiagnosed," said Kartika Carr. "Poverty is trauma and the type of violence that we see within our own households and within our community is another form of trauma. Lack of resources, school systems and education, that's trauma. So, being able to provide the proper resources can change someone's life."

Carr also said that mental health professionals are trained in deescalation tactics but know when to call police when necessary.

The Buffalo Daniel's Day is on Daniel Prude's birthday. He would have been 43 this year. While his family can't change the past, his brother said it makes him happy to be apart of the positive change his brother's life began.

"He was a real funny dude, you know," said Prude. "I think if Daniel was in the room of this magnitude and this group of people right now, he'd have everybody out their seats laughing right now. He was a good guy.

As a reminder if you're struggling with mental health, there are resources available.
Crisis Service 24/7 Hotlines:
Erie County: 716-834-3131
Niagara County: 716-285-3515

National Suicide Hotline:
Dial 988