Daniel’s Law Task Force hosts meeting in Albany

Originally published in Spectrum News on .

The Daniel’s Law Task Force met at the state Capitol on Wednesday. The task force is examining a variety of national and international models that could help develop a crisis response system. 

The public meeting follows several listening sessions that allowed the task force to gather input from around the state.

It’s named for 41-year-old Daniel Prude, who died in 2020 of asphyxiation while in Rochester Police custody during a mental health incident. It is tasked with developing recommendations to guide behavioral health crisis response and explore avenues for related diversion services.

“The end goal is for us to come up with recommendations that can be brought forward to the governor and the legislature,” New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said.   

Sullivan told Spectrum News 1 that implementing Daniel’s Law would require looking at programs offered in communities across the state that rely primarily on mental health professionals, not police officers, to respond to calls that involve a mental health crisis.

“We do have crisis response teams in almost all of the counties,” she said.

Wednesday's taskforce meeting, however, primarily sought input from beyond the U.S., with individuals involved in a similar program in Toronto offering guidance and answering questions.

Sullivan said she was especially impressed by the program’s ability to extend treatment beyond just the crisis that resulted in a call for help.  

“You need community services that then connect all of the important crisis interventions to have a long-range outcome, and they follow people up to 90 days in the crisis system,” she said.  

State Senator Samra Brouk, who sponsors the bill, said the recent bipartisan passage of Daniel's Law in the Senate Mental Health Committee is a significant step forward in realizing the premise behind it.  

“Being in a mental health crisis is not a crime, and we overcriminialize mental health and substance use crises, so we want the right people to show up to help those people who need it,” she said.