City officials ponder mental health resources after shooting involving officer | News
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGG/WSHM) – The family of Orlando Taylor III has spoken out about the lack of mental health resources in the city of Springfield.
We have taken their concerns to municipal leaders to see if they are doing anything to promote change.
Two city councilors are currently working to add more resources for people in Springfield struggling with mental health issues.
The death of Orlando Taylor III, the man who died in the officer involved in the Jan. 9 shooting, sheds light on a major problem in the city of Springfield.
“One of the most touching things for me was when Orlando Taylor III’s mother said ‘what more can I do? “,” said Springfield City Councilman Justin Hurst.
Taylor’s family say he had mental health issues and was in crisis at the time of the shooting. They said they contacted several community organizations for help.
“I think if Orlando Taylor III hadn’t gotten the treatment he needs, he would be alive today,” Hurst said.
Now city councilors Justin Hurst and Tracye Whitfield are working to turn things around. First, they want resource awareness to be better in the community…
“If someone asked me where to go for mental health services, I probably wouldn’t be able to give them a good idea,” Hurst explained.
Western Mass News inquired with the city’s Department of Health and Human Services and found that Springfield had resources specifically for people dealing with mental health issues, including the Behavioral Health Network, the Center of Human Development and the Mental Health Association.
Councilman Hurst said he wanted to start mental health education at a young age, starting with the Springfield school system.
“I’m sure there are people in our school system who seek help at an early age and don’t necessarily have access to it,” Hurst explained.
Councilwoman Whitfield said she came up with a mental health intervention program for the town of Springfield.
“Limit the amount of force used in mental health crises… The dispatch would bring in that crisis response team and it would be like a paramedic or a nurse and a clinician or a social worker coming out and analyzing the situation,” Tracye said. Whitfield, alderman of Springfield.
But it’s the money that’s at stake…
Councilor Whitfield said council approved moving COVID-19 funds to start this program in the town.
“I think it’s just a decision that has to be made by the administration,” Whitfield said.
The intervention program would be used for non-violent people suffering from a mental health crisis. Councilors have indicated that they plan to continue these discussions on different strategies at future council meetings.
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