A task force named in honor of the Rochester man who died while in the custody of the Rochester Police Department will be required to address mental health and addiction issues as well as police responses to those concerns.
The state budget included the creation of the panel, known as the Daniel's Law Task Force.
The 10-member panel will address issues related to "trauma-informed, community-led responses and diversions for mental health, alcohol use or substance use crises," as well as how people are affected by police responses to mental health.
Lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul included the provision in the $229 billion budget after a push this session for a broader measure that would have created state and regional mental health units that would handle mental health crises instead of police officers.
The new task force, which will be required to hold at least three public statewide town hall events, will have to develop both operational and financial assessments of enacting broad swaths of the inital proposal. A report on the task force's findings and recommendations will be issued to the governor and top legislative leaders.
That measure was also named in honor of Daniel Prude, who died in 2020 while in the custody of the Rochester Police Department. Officers responded as Prude was experiencing a mental health crisis.
During the incident on March 23, 2020, several police officers restrained Prude. He was naked on the ground and police placed a spit hood over his head.
The task force was also approved in the budget days before a man in New York City was choked to death on the subway; the incident is now being investigated by District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office.
Prude lost consciousness during the restraint. He was taken to the hospital and placed on life support. He died on March 30.
An autopsy reported Prude had the drug angel dust in his system.
The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide caused by asphyxia. Following an investigation into the incident, the officers involved did not face any charges.
The task force is set to include the commissioner of the state Office of Mental Health, as well as the commissioner of Addiction Services and Supports and legislative appointees as well as experts in the fields of emergency medical services and mental health.
Joe Prude, the brother of Daniel Prude, in a statement this week criticized the formation of the task force and is worried it wil take too long to implement any potential changes.
“It’s been three years since my brother was killed by police while he was experiencing a mental health crisis. His life mattered, but the governor’s budget says otherwise," he said. "I’m deeply concerned about Governor Hochul’s decision to reject funding for a Daniel’s Law pilot program in the final budget. I’m also disappointed by the lack of urgency in giving the task force nearly three years to make any recommendations around implementation. This was an opportunity for her to show us that she cares about Rochester and believes that the lives of all New Yorkers who’ve been lost to police intervention while in crisis are worth fighting for."