The Nassau County Legislature voted unanimously on Monday, Aug. 3 to approve legislation introduced by Legislators Siela A. Bynoe (D – Westbury) and Joshua Lafazan (Woodbury) directing Nassau County to convene a committee tasked with studying alternative approaches to mental health responses and intervention by law enforcement.
The committee, which will be co-chaired by the Commissioners of the Nassau County Police Department and the Department of Human Services, must convene its first meeting within 30 days and issue a report to the County Executive and the Legislature within six months of enactment.
Potential recommendations include but are not limited to: creating a mental health unit within the Nassau County Police Department; establishing protocols for co-deploying mental and behavioral health professionals and non-law enforcement personnel to mental or behavioral health-related police calls; and conducting a nationwide review of best practices in alternative approaches to mental health crisis intervention.
The resolution now awaits Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s signature.
“Disturbing video footage from a recent arrest in Far Rockaway and the fatal outcomes of police interventions in Oceanside and East Northport vividly illustrate why it is so important to ensure that we are taking every possible step to optimally equip Nassau County police officers to excel in their responses to mental health crisis calls,”Nassau County Legislator Siela A. Bynoe (D – Westbury) said. “The Legislature’s action is a step toward fulfilling this mandate, and Iam grateful for the support of our colleagues for empowering stakeholders to engage with this essential issue.”
“Efforts that promote the study of new ideas and foster an environment that encourages an ongoing exploration of best practices in policing are bound to be advantageous for Nassau County residents and the officers entrusted with serving and protecting them,” Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan (Woodbury) said. “I applaud my colleagues in the Nassau County Legislature for voting in favor of this proposal and clearing the way for a collaborative and exhaustive exploration of approaches for keeping our communities safe and protecting our most vulnerable citizens.”