Envisioning Alternatives to Policing: Mental Health
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This discussion explores some of the compelling alternatives to policing in mental health crises that have been proposed -- and tested -- both in New York and other cities. Moderated by Ashley Southall, law enforcement reporter for The New York Times, the panel features experts and activists who have long advocated for changes to addressing mental health interventions. This is the first of three virtual events in our new series, Envisioning Alternatives to Policing.
About the Speakers:
Tim Black is the Director of Consulting at White Bird Clinic in Eugene, Oregon. With a background in runaway and homeless youth, harm reduction, and street outreach, he began working for CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) as a Crisis Intervention Worker in 2010 before moving into an administrative role as the CAHOOTS Operations Coordinator in 2015. His work with White Bird and CAHOOTS has put him in touch with cities across North America looking to implement services based on the CAHOOTS model of behavioral health first response. Programs based on the CAHOOTS model have been implemented in Olympia WA, Denver CO, Rochester NY, San Francisco CA, and Portland OR. In addition to his work with White Bird Clinic, Tim is active in homeless advocacy and also serves on the Board of Directors for Eugene’s Community Supported Shelters.
Ruth Lowenkron is the Director of the Disability Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI). Lowenkron has been active in the field of disability law since 1981, having worked at Untapped Resources, Inc. (New York), the Community Health Law Project (New Jersey), the Education Law Center (New Jersey), and Disability Rights New Jersey. Lowenkron has assisted countless persons with physical, mental and other disabilities via impact litigation, legislative advocacy, and community outreach. She has taught disability law at Seton Hall Law School and CUNY Law School, and is a special education hearing officer for the New York State Department of Education. Lowenkron was recently named by Crain’s New York Business as a Notable Woman in Law.
Christina Sparrock is a Certified Public Accountant and the former Deputy Bureau Chief of Financial Reporting at the Office of the Comptroller under John Liu’s administration. As a Mental Health Advocate, Sparrock has tirelessly fought for racial and social justice. Her works include participating in the New York Police Department and Department of Correction’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program, where she educated law enforcement on de-escalation techniques and crisis communication skills when dealing with those in emotional crisis. As an appointed member of the Health Promotion for Justice Impacted Populations Committee of the NYC Community Service Board, Sparrock addressed systems gaps and has offered suggestions on improving outcomes for justice-involved individuals who live with mental health concerns. On Mayor DeBlasio’s Crisis Prevention and Response Task Force, Sparrock offered recommendations on enhancing the City’s public safety and public health policy in relation to mental health. With the increased violence towards mentally ill by law enforcement, Sparrock partnered with Correct Crisis Intervention Today - NYC (CCIT-NYC) to advocate for non-police responses to mental health crises.
Ashley Southall (moderator) is a law enforcement reporter focused on crime and policing in New York City, a beat she started working in 2016. She joined The Times in 2008 as a news clerk in the newspaper's Washington bureau. Southall is an alumna of Howard University and an Alabamian.