Greensboro To Move Forward With Mental Health Response Program
The city of Greensboro is planning to spend $500,000 on a mental-health response program to assist city staff and police. However, some argue there isn't a need to spend so much on it.
Greensboro Councilman Justin Outling and other city council members said it might be better to train existing city staff on how to handle someone going through a crisis. Outling suggested the library staff, who encounter a lot of people with mental illness.
"I hope somebody in the library is going to get the training that they need, but a city that has as much potential as ours should be looking for what's the most and the best that we can do with what we have," Outling said.
Outling said he was also put off by the lack of a plan for implementing the response program and how its success will be measured.
The council moved to establish the program a little more than a year after Marcus Smith, who suffered from mental illness, died in police custody. He was taken in for darting in and out of traffic in downtown Greensboro. His family says his death could have been avoided if a program like this existed.
Outling was the only council member to vote against the program, which he believes costs too much. He also thinks there hasn't been enough research done to create a program such as this.
The city is in the contract phase of starting the program, but Outling says he will make sure his voice is heard on the matter.
"I will continue to point out that our processes as a city council are broken," he said. "While there are certainly great things happening within the city, we're not reaching our full potential in part because we're not working as a team."
A similar program already exists in Charlotte. The program is scheduled to launch early next year.