State leaders hope to pass “Daniel’s Law” in 2023

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Two years after Daniel Prude’s death, his family is still fighting for justice. The Prude family is pushing to pass “Daniel’s Law” into legislation. Community members and some state leaders are backing them up.

“I can’t give up, I can’t give up hope for my brother, everyone is taking their time to show their support for my family, it’s an honor,” Joe Prude said, at an event hosted by Free the People Roc over the weekend.

Daniel’s Law is a push to remove police officers from being the initial response to mental health calls and substance abuse crisis. It would allow mental health workers, peers, and EMT’s to be first responders, to mental health calls, rather than police.

Joe Prude said he thinks the groups Rochester has that respond to mental health calls, like the Persons In Crisis Team, or “PIC”, team, is doing the best it can, but more people would need to step up to be involved when or if the bill passes.

“The PIC team, they’ve been doing what they can, but there isn’t enough people. Not so much as qualified, but willing to do the job, because some people might be timid,” Joe said.  

Two years ago, Daniel Prude died in police custody while experiencing a mental health crisis. Mental health was the topic of conversation during an event on Jefferson Avenue and McCree Way.

“Across the community, across the state, people understand what it means to have adequate mental health care, Daniel’s Law will end the criminalization of mental illness and supports communities by giving them care,” Rochester city council member, Stanley Martin told News10BC.

Co-sponsors of the bill, Senator Harry Bronson, and Senator Samra Brouke, were also at the event. Brouke is the chair of the Senate Committee on Mental Health.

“As chair of mental health, I get these stories all the time, that all across our state right now people are losing their lives because they end up in a mental health crisis, and we don’t have the right people to show up for them,” Brouke said.

Bronson says law enforcement agencies he’s spoken with are in favor of Daniel’s Law, they recognize that officers may not be trained to deal with every call they go out to.

“Law enforcement understands they can’t do the compassion and care, piece of this, they need help. We have got to get the language right, so we can implement it, and it can truly work in the field,” Bronson added.

The bill is in committee right now, and new amendments will be introduced in January. The hope is to pass the bill in 2023. Today’s event is part of “Statewide days of action,” which runs today through the 20th. Buffalo, Brooklyn, and Albany are also hosting events.