WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) sent a letter with their colleagues to House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Granger requesting $100 million be included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 appropriations bill for the creation and expansion of alternative crisis response teams. Representative Adam Smith released the following statement after the letter was transmitted.

“Encouraging the use of behavioral health professionals to respond to mental health crisis situations improves the quality of crisis response and strengthens public safety by providing long term solutions to mental health and substance use issues,” the members wrote.

“The overwhelming majority of 911 calls involve mental health and substance use incidents, neighbor disputes, nuisance complaints, and requests for wellness checks that require appropriately trained, unarmed behavioral health professionals. Both the police and policing reform advocates often assert that specialized service providers—such as social workers, paramedics, and peer support counselors—are better equipped to handle such situations than armed officers,” wrote the members. “For some local governments, however, establishing and growing crisis response teams is cost prohibitive given the resources it takes to cover training, personnel, and equipment. Additional federal funding could go a long way in offsetting costs and spurring growth of these programs across the country.”

“Existing 911 response limited to police, fire, or EMT services have been overwhelmed and simply do not meet the needs of the communities they serve. A focus on a holistic public safety approach centered on the needs of communities is long overdue,” the members concluded.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.