September 10, 2021 was the last day for any bill to pass the Legislature and go to the Governor’s desk to be signed or vetoed. We are very happy to report that Assembly Bill 118 Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Systems Act has made it to the Governor’s desk, and we urge the Governor to sign this important bill into law. This bill would establish a pilot grant program to expand community-based organizations in an emergency response role for vulnerable populations. If signed by the Governor, the Department of Social Services would run the program which is designed to de-escalate crises, reduce reactive violence, and send critical non-law enforcement emergency services, provided by trained mental health professionals, to people in crisis. The bill would require the department to award grants to qualified grantees, which include city, county, and tribal departments of social services, disability services, health services, public health, or behavioral health, based on grant eligibility criteria developed in partnership with a stakeholder workgroup.
All too often people with disabilities have encounters with law enforcement (or other first responders) when they are in crisis, and the encounters end in excessive or deadly use of force. AB 118 is a critical step toward improving the relationship between law enforcement and the disability community. The Arc and UCP California Collaboration urges Governor Newsom to sign this bill.
We ask that you all join us in advocating for alternative approaches to crisis response for vulnerable populations. Please send an email ASAP urging the Governor to sign this important legislation.