Last month, New York City joined dozens of other cities experimenting with “alternatives” to policing by launching the Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division, or B-HEARD, in a pilot study in parts of Harlem. The program dispatches social workers and paramedics to certain mental-health-related 911 calls. Supporters argue that this approach reorients the response to these calls, from public safety toward public health.
Now the mayor’s office has put out its first report on the program to a glowing, but misleading, reception in the media.
Outlets such as Business Insider and NPR highlighted the finding that those approached by B-HEARD responders were more likely to accept help than those approached by police. NBC New York identified a causal relationship, claiming that B-HEARD is “reducing unnecessary hospitalizations, while increasing the percentage of people who accept help when offered.”
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