URGENT ILLINOIS ACTION ALERT: Support CESSA Today!
Today, disability advocates across Illinois are calling on our legislators to support the Community Emergency Services and Support Act (CESSA). CESSA is an Illinois bill also known as HB 2784.
This week, CESSA is one of over 600 bills up for consideration before the Illinois House. Friday, April 23, is an important deadline to get CESSA passed through the House so it can then go to the Illinois Senate. We need your help to ask Illinois House Representatives to support CESSA!
How You Can Help:
- Share information on CESSA on social media. Here’s a link to our CESSA social media toolkit.
- Contact your Illinois House Representatives. Quick link to email your reps is here.
Please take action today!
The goal of CESSA is to ensure that 911 emergency dispatch can actually dispatch appropriate non-police support for people with disabilities who are in mental or behavioral health crises. Far too often, when 911 dispatches police to these kinds of emergency calls, police “command and control” culture practices may result in physical harm, incarceration, or death for the person with a disability. We all deserve better.
CESSA was developed over the last several years by Access Living’s racial justice organizing group, Advance Your Leadership Power (AYLP), in partnership with the family of Stephon Watts, a young man with a disability who was killed by police in his own home. CESSA recognizes what should be common sense: it’s not a crime to need mental health supports.
Did you know:
- 10% of 911 calls request help with a mental or behavioral health emergency.
- Since Illinois lacks a coordinated health care response service, 911 can generally only dispatch law enforcement.
- Law enforcement practices focusing on “command and control” of a location actually makes many of these emergencies worse.
- Law enforcement skills are rarely needed for these calls, as people with mental illness are less likely to be violent than people without such a diagnosis.
- Law enforcement is generally compelled to hospitalize or jail people needing this service, but 90% of people who need help do not need such an invasive and costly response.
- Support creation of a 911 response option separate from law enforcement, for mental and behavioral health emergencies everywhere an ambulance service exists.
- Require responders to use appropriate de-escalation techniques and then connect callers to their existing care providers or to available community services and supports.
- Save State and local dollars by supporting people in the community rather than in emergency rooms and jails.
- Support each EMS Region to design regionally appropriate systems.
THIS BILL DOES NOT TRAIN POLICE. CESSA is NOT based on a co-responder model, in which police are accompanied by social workers. The bill aims to avoid any police intervention.
Feel free to share this alert with fellow community members. Thank you for your advocacy.