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Monroe County to expand mental health response in wake of Daniel Prude’s death

County Executive Adam Bello.
Max Schulte / WXXI News

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said Friday that “the system isn’t working for everybody.”

As part of the county’s response to the death of Daniel Prude, Bello announced an expansion of the county’s Forensic Intervention Team -- also known as FIT -- which will expand its operations to 24/7. FIT responds to crisis calls with law enforcement and helps connect people with outpatient services.

Bello said the county and the city of Rochester will spend more than $600,000 on the program combined. 

“For too long, we have divested from our social services and public health programs,” said Bello, “particularly in impoverished communities and neighborhoods and instead asked the police help solve every issue. It is clear that this is not working because not every emergency crisis should be met with a badge and a gun or a pair of handcuffs.”

Prude suffocated in Rochester police custody in March on Jefferson Avenue around 2 a.m. after his family called 911 with concerns about his mental health. FIT would not have been able to intervene in the Prude incident; at the time, the 3-year-old program’s hours were between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.. 

Bello expressed condolences for Prude’s death and said it's time for systemic change.

“Daniel Prude’s death tragically showed that this is a model that doesn’t work, and it must be changed because a one-size-fits-all solution can’t and won’t work for every emergency and every situation that we encounter,” said Bello.

He said this expansion is immediate and is a step toward that change. 

Bello also said he and the entire community are in mourning.

“The last 10 days have been incredibly painful for our entire community,” said Bello. “As we all beared witness to the disturbing events that led to Mr. Prude’s death, we are all hurting and continue to seek answers.”

The team will work with the county health department to respond to substance abuse calls as well.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.