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Cleveland police will rescind mental health referral policy

November 1, 2021 GMT

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland’s police department plans to rescind its policy requiring officers to notify crime victims before sending low-level, non-violent offenders to a county diversion program.

A department spokeswoman said the change would be made as early as this week. It comes after some officials and mental health advocates said the department was unnecessarily applying a 2017 victims-rights law which was preventing people from getting the treatment they need and putting victims in a position to decide the fate of someone’s treatment.

The policy was instituted by Police Chief Calvin Williams about two weeks ago, cleveland.com reported. It was based on the Marsy’s Law, which expanded victims rights to include notifications about suspects’ criminal cases.

City officials had defended the policy last week, but decided late Friday to make the change. They noted that no one had been denied access to the diversion center.

Cleveland’s mayoral candidates, City Council President Kevin Kelley and nonprofit executive Justin Bibb, had said they would eliminate the notification policy after taking office.