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New police unit that pairs officers and social workers to begin next month

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Maki Becker
The Buffalo News
September 14, 2020
Mayor Byron W. Brown said Monday that a new Buffalo police "behavioral health team" would begin next month. His announcement came months after first announcing the formation of the new police unit that will team police officers trained in crisis intervention with behavioral health clinicians. The announcement also came two days after a Buffalo police officer shot a bat-wielding, homeless man who has a history of mental illness.
 
"As we have seen over this past weekend, training, or good intentions, may not always result in an outcome anyone thinks is the right one," Brown told reporters at an afternoon news conference in his City Hall office. The new team "is a plan and a strategy to learn from the situation and help ensure that our response is better the next time. What happened demonstrates that even when people intend to help, bad outcomes can still occur."
 
Advocates for police reform in Buffalo and across the country have called for new strategies for responding to emergency situations involving people who are having a mental health crisis, including pairing police with mental health professionals.