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NYC releases early data from police-free mental crisis team

City officials said the program is off to a good start and is expected to expand

New York City Fire Department

New York City Fire Department

By Suzie Ziegler

NEW YORK — A pilot program that sends social workers and EMTs instead of police to some mental crisis calls is showing signs of early success, according to the New York Daily News.

The program, known as the Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division (B-HEARD), began operating in Harlem on June 6.

According to the report, data from B-HEARD’s first month shows that subjects accepted help in 95% of cases, compared to 85% when police alone responded.

However, police are still responding to a vast majority of mental crisis calls. Harlem had 532 mental health emergencies in B-HEARD’s first month, and police initially responded to 425, reported the Daily News.

According to USA Today, dispatchers flagged 138 of the mental crisis calls as eligible for B-HEARD – about 26% – and the team ultimately responded to 107 of them, or about 20%.

[READ: Increasing collaboration between police and mental health professionals]

While advocates say police should be diverted from more calls, city officials say the program is off to a good start.

“I think it’s clear that New York City is committed to getting people the care they need, when and where they need it,” said Susan Herman, director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Health. “And a large part of that is transforming our emergency response.”

Last week, city officials said the pilot is expected to expand.

[READ: Q&A: Denver PD’s three-tiered approach to addressing mental health issues]

Read the full report of B-HEARD’s first month below: