Advocates speak in support of community response programs
Concerns have been circulating over allocation of $56 million in new funding for Erie County’s 2024 budget, and community advocates are making their feelings known.
Many of the concerns relate to more than $30 million in new money being budgeted to the sheriff’s office, for things like raises, new hires, and a helicopter.
“We believe that community response teams will only enhance the emergency response that we have gone on in the county.”
That’s what Phylicia Brown, executive director of Black Love Resists in the Rust, said would be a more effective use of those funds, promoting community response methods for mental health crises.
“What we often hear is that there is no money to fund this kind of effort. What we do know about community responder teams, is that they are peer-based solutions to mental health crises and low-level 9-1-1 call," she said. "These teams are comprised of mental health folks, of clinicians, of peers in the community. And they are, essentially, in addition to the emergency response team.”
Brown and other advocates say their priority is getting the county to award more than “pennies” to starting a community responder system and other programs.