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Karin is standing at Home Depot, holding a notepad in her hands. She is dressed in a blue plaid long sleeve, blue jeans, and wears black glasses.

People of Richmond: Will the city’s crisis response plan be a good option to calling police?

on October 17, 2023

“People of Richmond” is a regular series in which reporters pose a question to people in the community. Answers are presented verbatim, though sometimes edited for brevity.

Q: Do you think Richmond’s plan to create an alternative response team to handle mental health calls will be successful?

“It could be successful – I mean, it depends on how well it’s funded; how well it’s staffed. But, as a concept, I think it’s an interesting and a good one.” (Karin Rosman, retired, pictured above)

Oscar is dressed in a blue windbreaker adorned with vibrant yellow letters and grey shorts. He holds a leash in his hands while making bunny ears with his fingers.

“Definitely. There’s been some occasions where people are freaking out and the police just use full force and that makes it worse. It will benefit everybody. I hope other cities start doing it.” (Oscar Ruzo, works at a high school)

“Realistically, are the people going to actually show up? I have to call the cops a lot for work because of homeless people and drug addicts. And no one ever shows up. We can’t even get a hold of a dispatcher. And when we do get a hold of a dispatch, they are so rude. So if something like that happens, it’d be cool, but we’ll see if it works.” (Alexus Sindicich, barista)

Alexus is wearing a green knitted long sleeve with brown buttons, black jeans, and her brown hair cascading down, standing and smiling at the camera.

It depends on how they’re trained and how they handle them. Currently the way that the city views mental health, it still stigmatizes it. In reality this could go downhill if it is seen as a police force

(Lupita Garcia, finance manager)

It depends on how committed they are to help those who don’t want to be helped. A lot of people who need help will refuse it. The crisis team may find themselves in bad situations.

(Javier Meza, bank teller)

“Well, I think it would do good; I think we need it. I know we [have] a team – a response team now. … But this one you’re talking about is bigger.” (Harvey Bod, retired)

Harvey is at Home Depot, standing by a cart with a cheerful smile as he looks at the camera. He's dressed in a blue crewneck sweater layered over a blue collared shirt, paired with brown pants and a gray cap.

Luis is outside of Home Depot, holding his phone in his hands. He is dressed in a blue puffer jacket, blue sweatpants, and grey shoes.

“Sí, sí le ayudaría. Supuestamente, el otro día un conocido hizo una llamada y respondieron rápido. Le ayudo, sí le sirvió.” (Luis Reyes, gardener)

“t’s a good idea. Right now the police are not always equipped. Oftentimes they don’t have any training. What’s happening right now is not working.

(Trish Moseley, child care worker)

I believe so. If they have the right health professionals come, I think it will be more successful than just sending the police. Normally they are not trained to deal with mental health crises. I hope they are able to de-escalate the situation with words instead of force.

(Ladonna Lane)

Deborah stands by a parking lot, dressed in a green sweater with a red shirt underneath, paired with blue yoga pants. She complements her look with a brown visor, black sunglasses, and a beaming smile.

“I think it’s a great idea and is very needed. You want a compassionate response from people who have expertise. It’s too much to ask of the police. It’s not their field. You have to think about how it’s going to be managed and accounted for. … There’s good reason to be skeptical, but the new mayor and new regime seem to care about quality governance.” (Deborah Pruitt, retired)

“I think it will be a perfect idea. Since you know, they got a different team, I think that will be better for the community, especially for the departments because they can get more focused on what they do. … It is better for the future for every department.” (Joel Martinez, soccer coach)

Joel sits on the back of his blue track, smiling at the camera. He's dressed in soccer coach gear, featuring a blue Puma sweater with an M logo and a matching cap.

I think it will be great. I am pretty sure the police personnel are getting a lot of calls. So I think being able to have this resource would be really good for the community. We have a lot of people with mental health issues. I think having that extra support for them, that’d be really important.

(Kristine Caingat, nurse)

I think it’s a great idea. I think that in America we don’t have good access to mental health care in general. There are a lot of barriers to entry, especially related on the financial side of things. It makes [it] a lot easier than to look up a hotline or a certain number and can be more easily streamlined to the system.”

(Josephine Clemett, recent graduate)

“I think it’s worth a try. Yes, I think it should be good. It gets specialists out there that can know the situation. … The cops in Richmond are good people, and they’re qualified, but extra help is always good.” (Jonny Hill, IT specialist)

Jonny smiles at the camera with a blue mask on his face and is dressed in a purple button-up long-sleeve shirt.

People of Richmond: What is your favorite park?

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