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Justice

Where Calling the Police Isn’t the Only Option

There’s a growing movement in the U.S. to hand some police duties over to social workers and alternative emergency responders. Oakland, Sacramento and Eugene, Oregon, are already doing it. 

Oakland is one of a handful of West Coast cities in the U.S. that have launched non-police emergency response programs. 

Oakland is one of a handful of West Coast cities in the U.S. that have launched non-police emergency response programs. 

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Corrected

The chain of events that led to the killing of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police on June 12 could have looked very different. Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, had fallen asleep in his car in a fast food restaurant’s drive-through. A restaurant worker called 911, and two white officers responded; about 30 minutes later, after determining that Brooks was intoxicated, the police attempted to arrest him. A struggle ensued, and Brooks was shot twice after he grabbed one officer’s taser and ran away. In the aftermath, a wave of demonstrations gripped the city, Atlanta police chief Erika Shields resigned, and one of the police officers has been charged with murder.

What if that 911 call had summoned a pair of unarmed crisis responders instead of police?