Unarmed response teams take shape in 2 Mass. communities – Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts 2021-08-03 15:15:24 –


While Cambridge was actively discussing the proposal, Lynn had just allocated money to the program to reassign certain features currently being processed by police.

The Center’s co-chair, Adriana Pass, is joined by a member of the Lin Racial Justice Union outside Lin’s City Hall. The city is planning to have a crisis team, not a police officer, respond to a particular incident. Josh Reynolds / The Boston Globe

More than a year has passed Since George Floyd was killed Detained by Minnesota police, a new call for racial justice has sparked protests across the country.

Since then, some Massachusetts communities have been discussing this issue, working on police reforms, and considering unarmed response teams to address nonviolent calls.

In Lynn, the city leader Recently allocated $ 500,000 The first phase of creating an unarmed unit called the All Lynn Emergency Response Team, or ALERT.

Cambridge is also working on creating a Cambridge Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team. Cambridge Heart Program..

Setting up demilitarized forces to deal with the call for nonviolence is not a new concept. CAHOOTS (CAHOOTS), a program based in Eugene, Oregon, has been around for over 30 years. According to the website..


“This program mobilizes a team of two people, a medic (nurse, paramedic, or EMT) and a paramedic with extensive training and experience in the field of mental health,” CAHOOTS said. Website states. “The CAHOOTS team addresses a variety of mental health-related crises, including conflict resolution, welfare checks, substance abuse, and suicide threats, and relies on trauma-based deescalation and harm reduction techniques.”

Team members do not have weapons. Instead, they employ proven tactics to handle the crisis, the website says.

In most cases, the team does not need to request a police backup. In fact, according to the program, in 2019 CAHOOTS processed about 24,000 calls, of which only 150 required police assistance.

According to the website, the program costs about $ 2.1 million annually and the team handles about 17 percent of Eugene police calls.

The program also saves money. From 2014 to 2017, it is estimated that the city saved an average of about $ 8.5 million annually by allocating these cases to CAHOOTS instead of police.

Lynn Alert’s work

The combination of George Floyd’s murder and the COVID-19 pandemic brought action to Linner’s group last year. Prevent the cycle, An organization that works to promote racial equality. Paz is also co-chair of the Lynn Racial Justice Coalition, which has helped build the Lynn ALERT.

The hearing last fall focused on the police seeking change in Lynn and the inhabitants, brought about by a petition. Since then, the Union has worked with the city to create programs.

Now that the funding has been provided, the next step is to evaluate the study from the Northeastern University Ducaquis City and Regional Policy Center and “further study, guide, advice, and development of planning, design, and implementation details.” Includes hiring consultants to assist.Tom Magee Facebook post..

Pass said he hopes the team will be more active next year and will be able to answer the phone.

George Floyd’s death “teared our hearts,” but Pass said that this type of incident, including police atrocities, was happening here in Massachusetts. Rin’s Victor White Case.. In that case, a former Lynn police officer recently admitted that he had beaten Black White after responding to a noise complaint at White’s home last summer.

For those behind the organization, they understand the potential benefits of programs like Lynn ALERT to the community. Pass said part of the conversation included talking about what police were trained to handle and what could be postponed to demilitarized forces. Some of those calls that can be diverted include those experiencing mental health or homelessness. As part of that, we can earn the trust of the local people.

ALERT can also help Lynn’s immigrant population – Paz explains how language barriers escalated encounters with police during hearings, and uniformed armed police officers respond He pointed out that this can cause fear.

“Let’s take it out of the equation and put in a social worker. This is someone who is experiencing this and can handle the situation better,” Path said.

When considering the bias, Path said, “Police are not immune to it.”

“It happens that they also have the power to decide whether they are alive or dead,” she said.

While many of Lynn have participated in conversations and programs, she admitted that some questioned the legitimacy of the program and police allegations of abuse.

“We want them to know that your community, your neighbors, are experiencing things that you may not have experienced,” she said. “It doesn’t make it that realistic. I’ve been emphasizing it all the time. I’m not creating this from thin air.”

Cambridge heart

In Cambridge, the people behind the proposed HEART program are discussing with the mayor, Louis De Pasquale. Back on June 7th, city council Pass the resolution Ask him to review the program, discuss it with community members, plan potential funding, and plan to put the program into action.

The city council is currently waiting for its report from De Pasquale.

HEART’s proposal was adjusted by Black response, An organization specializing in police reform. Queen-Cheyenne Wade, a member of the group that worked on the proposal, said it was “created by and for the community.”

HEART is one of two proposals the city is considering. Public Security Task Force Created by the city in January and also Unique proposal..

Most of Cambridge’s city council voted in favor of passing the proposal to the mayor for review, but Councilor Tim Toumi “attended” at the June meeting and between the council and the committee. He said the proposal needed further “dialogue”. ..

“It’s very widespread,” he said, saying that while there are aspects he supports, there are other aspects that he is “not very comfortable with.” He said he understood concerns about the current police response, but he quoted the case at Braintree. Call for domestic violence It ended with two police officers shot dead, police K9 killed, and a suspect killed.

“I don’t think it’s clearly in their best interests to have social workers, committees to deal with such things without the right resources,” Toomey said. “What we have to see [incident] In Braintree. “

Although not directly referring to HEART’s proposal, retiring police commissioner Branville Bard said he would support the consideration of alternative police.

“I have long supported and stubbornly supported creating alternative or non-police responses for appropriate non-emergency situations,” he said in a statement. “It’s clear that a wide range of thoughts and energy are devoted to what the future can hold around this important work in Cambridge.

“As the city advances these proposals, we hope that Cambridge’s public security will be actively involved in the reexamined recommendations and become part of a broader collaborative approach in the future,” he said. ..

Proposal development included discussions with organizations working with those most likely to be affected by the new program, including: Margaret Fuller House When Cambridge Women’s Center.. They also talked to people in the directly affected communities, such as those with substance use disorders and those who were previously imprisoned, and asked what they wanted to change.

“I think that’s the most important way to do this. We understand that we started this by saying that there was no answer. In fact, we need to find the answer collectively.” Wade said.

Like Paz mentioned about ALERT, Wade said that people interacting with HEART would trade with someone in their community.

“You will be better involved and supported by the people you know, and the people in your community,” Wade said. “That’s how we said we wanted to make this different.”

Part of the program is to recognize how some experiences are interrelated, such as considering how people experiencing housing instability and homelessness can address their mental health concerns. is. It’s about ending the cycle, Wade said.

This means thinking about how someone becomes homeless, or what leads to food insecurity, and recognizing that the path to these problems varies from person to person and from situation to situation. ..

“This is a program that we are all really honored to have different solutions,” she said. “We will all have different points to reach that solution.”

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