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New legislation would require NYPD precincts to hire social workers. It comes after some mental health calls have turned deadly.

New bill pushes hiring licensed social workers in every NYPD precinct
New bill pushes hiring licensed social workers in every NYPD precinct 01:50

NEW YORK -- There's a push to staff New York City police precincts with social workers after some mental health calls have turned deadly.

City Councilmembers Yusef Salaam and Erik Bottcher on Thursday introduced legislation to require the city Department of Health to staff each New York City Police Department precinct with a licensed social worker.

Legislation would require licensed social workers in NYPD precincts

"You're talking about hiring about 231 licensed master social workers," civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel said.

Siegel said taxpayers spent $115 million last year on police misconduct cases and estimates this would cost around $20 million.

Bottcher said it could help even for people who've been arrested dozens of times for petty crimes like shoplifting.

"At what point during chain of events did someone look for signs of serious mental illness?" he said.

Bottcher admits it's not the officers' job to do that.

The bill's sponsors didn't specify how the social workers would be utilized. They said it could be up to each individual precinct.  

The Department of Health and a spokesperson for the mayor said they will review the legislation. The bill sponsors expect it will come up for a vote in the public safety committee soon.

"If there are social workers on the scene of these situations, they cannot have the authority to override the police," said Paul DiGiacomo, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association.

The Police Benevolent Association said in part it always welcomes more resources, "however ... they should be receiving services before there is a crisis, and certainly before we have to bring them into a precinct."

Win Rozario fatally shot by NYPD officers

This legislation comes after police body camera video was released earlier this month showing two NYPD officers fatally shooting 19-year-old Win Rozario.

Rozario called 911 on himself back in March to say he was having a mental health crisis. Body camera video shows Rozario holding scissors and charging towards the officers. When a Taser did not deter him, officers shot and killed him.

"Had social workers, had people who had vested interest in ensuring that we protect life... Win Rozario would still be alive," Salaam said.

Both officers remain on modified assignment, meaning they cannot carry a badge or a gun. Rozario's family has called for the two officers involved to be suspended without pay and fired.

The state attorney general's office is investigating the deadly shooting. The NYPD says they are fully cooperating with the investigation, and the NYPD Force Investigation Division is conducting their own investigation, as well.

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