California bill would replace police officers with counselors at certain calls. What could possibly go wrong?

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SACRAMENTO, CA- As part of the continuing efforts to defund the police, California is moving toward a system which would have counselors, rather than police officers respond to calls for individuals experiencing alleged mental health issues under a bill backed by gun-violence prevention groups.

KTLA-5 in Los Angeles reports that under the proposal, callers who dial 9-8-8 would instead be connected with counselors, who would also be able to dispatch mobile crisis support teams which would be staffed with mental health professionals.

Proponents of the measure claim it is a better option than calling 9-1-1, which results in police officers being the first responders to such calls. Advocates of the bill allege that under those conditions, these calls often turn violent.

If someone were to call the 9-1-1 emergency line, and were reporting a mental health crisis, they would be transferred to 9-8-8, while dispatchers for both numbers would make a decision if the call requires police, fire or medical to respond.

“This bill can save lives that we are losing to suicide and shootings by police,” said Krystal LoPilato, a volunteer with the Michael Bloomberg-funded,  gun-grabbing group California Moms Demand Action.

California’s bill would create the hotlines by July of next year under new rules from both the Federal Communications Commission and Congress.

The hotline would be funded through surcharges assessed to phone lines similar to that of the 911 emergency number. Counties in California would separately have to provide the crisis services and mobile crisis teams.

The bill is named after a 23-year-old black man, Miles Hall who was fatally shot by police in Walnut Creek, California in 2019, Democratic Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan said at a virtual meeting, including an affiliated anti-gun group Students Demand Action.

“He was shot and killed in the middle of a schizophrenic episode after his mother had called trying to get him help,” Bauer-Kahan said.

Thus far, neither the California police chiefs and sheriffs nor their respective organizations have taken a position on the bill, according to the respective groups’ spokespeople.

In addition to this particular effort, there are also others underway which would create alternatives to police for incidents that may not require a police presence.

Another measure is called the Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Systems (CRISES) Act, which was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year. That bill was proposed by Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager.

This measure would create a pilot program which would distribute grants to community organizations which would get involved instead of law enforcement agencies, for mental health, substance abuse and other so-called “non-violent” episodes.

Newsom said he vetoed the scheme because he disagreed with how the three-year, quarter million dollar minimum grant program was going to be administered.

The two anti-gun groups did not take a position on Kamlager’s bill despite seeking increased financial commitments to other violence intervention and gang prevention programs.

The groups are also backing a proposal which would require every school district to provide information for students to bring home which would provide information about securely storing firearms. While the National Rifle Association (NRA) has an outstanding gun safety program for students, it is likely that California would not utilize that program due to disdain for the gun safety and advocacy group.

Newsom, currently in a battle for his job as a petition to recall him as California governor has substantially exceeded the number needed, did not take a position on the bills during a one-minute video presentation Monday.

Newsom did back their work however, and briefly criticized those in opposition to the state’s ridiculous “large-capacity magazine” ban, as well as the background check requirement for gun-buyers.

In addition, the California State Association of Counties through its spokeswoman Sara Floor did not take a position on the bills either, while the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California did not immediately comment on the bills.

“We’ll have an easy number you can call, and the counties will send direct mental health service teams to serve the community that needs it, rather than law enforcement, who aren’t trained or equipped to do that,” Bauer-Kahan said.

In addition to Bauer-Kahan, Taun Hall, Miles’ mother issued a statement in which she said she would draw comfort thinking that such a bill “might save other children and spare other families this anguish.”

However, such a program has the propensity of going badly. For example last year in Melbourne, Florida, a counselor at a behavioral health center in that city was shot and killed by a former patient.

In that incident, counselor Travis Knight was speaking to the former patient, Robert Quackenbush who had come to the facility to speak with Knight. The two sat down on the curb and had a conversation.

However, as Knight was walking to his car afterward, Quackenbush called out his name and shot him in the chest with a semi-automatic pistol. He then stood over Knight and shot him again, twice in the head.

Last week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a man shot his estranged wife while leaving a counseling office in Louisiana, and then killed himself. The man, Richard Randall Ray shot his wife, whose name was not released, in the leg and arm. She was transported to the hospital and is expected to recover.

Finally, this past January in Los Angeles, a youth counselor was found beaten to death inside a city home for troubled children and teens when he tried to break up a fight and was attacked by six teens, two adults and four minors.

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For more on that story, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating the fatal beating of a counselor that occurred at a South Los Angeles youth home. Officials say that seven suspects, five of which are juveniles, were involved and one suspect is still at large. 

According to the LASD, 25-year-old David McKnight-Hillman suffered a brutal beating that turned out to be fatal on January 2nd at the Wayfinder Family Services within the 5300 block of Angeles Vista Boulevard.

The Wayfinder Family Services happens to be a private, non-profit organization that specializes in providing residential therapeutic services to children and youth that are placed there by the Department of Children and Family Services.

LASD deputies were first called out to the location at approximately 9:50 p.m. on January 2nd when responding to a call regarding a group of teens involved in some sort of a fight. 

By the time deputies had arrived on the scene, they’d discovered McKnight-Hillman suffering from several injuries that appeared to be the result of blunt force trauma. When the victim was transported to a hospital for treatment, he sadly succumbed to his injuries. 

When homicide investigators began looking into what occurred that evening, they’d learned that McKnight-Hillman was one of the counselors that was tasked with some of the day-to-day endeavors involving caring for the residents at Wayfinder Family Services. 

Investigators believe that he was attempting to break up a fight on the evening of January 2nd, which then led to him being fatally beaten by the group reportedly involved. 

So far, seven suspects were said to have been involved in the beating, which authorities currently have six in custody. The two adults said to have been involved in the crime were identified as 18-year-olds Nyier Mason and Keith Lewis. 

Both Lewis and Mason were booked into the Marina Del Rey Sheriff’s Station under charges of murder. As for the remaining suspects, four of the juveniles allegedly involved in the murder have been apprehended and are in custody at the East Lake Juvenile Hall. 

Officials suspect that they too will be brought up on murder charges as well. One of the juvenile suspects is currently at large, but detectives are said to know the suspect by name and are currently tracking him down. 

The investigation into this murder is still ongoing, according to the LASD.

Anyone with information about the incident or at-large suspect is urged to call the LASD’s Homicide Unit at 323-890-5500.

Details on the case can also be submitted anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477) or by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google Play or the Apple App Store. Tips can also be submitted using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.

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Murders allegedly committed by juveniles has been a matter affecting numerous cities across the country. In New York City, a judge is receiving quite the backlash for having released a teenage murder suspect from jail due to concerns over the pandemic. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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BRONX, NY- Bail reform, COVID-19 releases and a number of other things have seriously flawed the justice system in recent years. 

It has come to light that a Bronx judge released a teen murder suspect, not once but twice, allowing him to harm others again. 

Supreme Court Justice Denis Boyle freed 16-year-old Jordon Benjamin without bail after allegedly stabbing a young woman, Amya Hick in the stomach. 

The worst part about Benjamin’s most recent crime however, is he was set free despite two pending cases of violent crimes against him. 

The first case against Benjamin is from Christmas Eve 2019. Sixty-year-old Juan Fresnada was walking with his roommate when police said the pair were assaulted by a group of teenagers, one of those teen’s allegedly including Benjamin, The New York Post reported.

Video of the brutal attack shows that the teens brutally stomped on Fresnada and beat him with a garbage can. He died from his injuries three days later at Lincoln Hospital, police said.

That vicious beating, and the loss of life, was all for $1, which is what the teens made off with.

Benjamin was initially confined to the Crossroads Juvenile Center in Brooklyn on a manslaughter charge but freed by Boyle in March due to concerns over the coronavirus behind bars, The New York Post reported.

Then on December 14th, Benjamin allegedly slashed Hicks on Intervale Avenue in the Bronx, not far from his Hall Place home.

He was arrested three days later and charged with felony assault and attempted assault, and misdemeanor weapons possession, but was again released by Judge Boyle without bail at his arraignment.

Benjamin’s alleged victims and their families are now furious over the fact that this extremely dangerous teen is being allowed to walk the streets despite his repeated heinous crimes.

On Monday, December 28th, 33-year-old Tynisha Smith, the mother of Amya Hicks said:

“This is crazy, we thought he was still in jail,”  

She continued:

“She doesn’t have an order of protection or nothing. He’s local. He hangs out two blocks away.”

She went on to say:

“Nobody called us, I’m going to ring her now and tell her to get home. They didn’t give us a heads up or nothing. This is ridiculous. He can hurt another person.”

According to Smith, her daughter spent two days in the hospital and underwent surgery to treat her wounds.

Also on Monday, 30-year-old Bayron Caceres, the roommate of Benjamin’s alleged first victim, Juan Fresnada, said when he heard the news of Benjamin’s freedom:

“I’m shocked,”  

He went on to say:

“It’s injustice,”

Caceres continued:

“I thought he was on trial. I thought he was in jail. It is unbelievable to me, the injustice.”

According to the post, Fresnada’s building is just steps away from where Benjamin and his friends regularly hang out.

A neighbor told The Post:

“I can’t believe they let him back out here,”

The neighbor went on to say:

“Now I gotta keep looking back over my shoulder.”

In response to the backlash that Boyle is now receiving, the state Office of Court Administration released a statement that said Boyle followed the law.

OCA spokesman Lucian Chalfen said in the statement:

“Judges follow the law and the law clearly states that the least restrictive alternative should be the preeminent driver in bail consideration,” 

Chalfen continued in the statement:

“Once released on his manslaughter charge, this defendant returned to court for all subsequent appearances, and the expectation is that that will continue with the new charge.”

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