Emancipate NC’s Jaelyn Miller partnered with the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and hosted a screening of a documentary on the creation and success of Durham’s H.E.A.R.T program on October 18th, 2023. Following the documentary Jaelyn led a discussion with the attending community members on ways to get involved with the Raleigh H.E.A.R.T campaign and the campaign’s progress and responses it has received from city officials about bringing a heart to Raleigh.
Community members voiced overwhelming support and excitement about bringing a heart program to Raleigh. Our coalition campaign to bring H.E.A.R.T. to Raleigh was covered deeply in the Indy Week last week, with an extensive interview with Jaelyn Miller.
By dispatching the ACORNS unit or other non-police responders directly through the 911 center, social workers can respond to more calls and connect more people with the resources they need. By establishing an alternative response unit independent of the RPD, officers will also be freed up to respond to calls about violent crime, Miller says.
An unarmed response team, alongside ACORN’s co-response model, would “tremendously cut down on a lot of these incidents [downtown],” Miller argues. If people experiencing drug addiction are able to get help, it will cut down on drug use and drug deals, she says. Housing unsheltered people could cut down on panhandling. Connecting people to mental health services might prevent some incidents of harassment or threats.
“These folks are not getting help, so they’re continuing to have issues,” Miller says. “Now they’ve just changed the locations of where they show those issues.”
Homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health have been problems in Raleigh for a while, she adds, and are now reaching a boiling point.
“The goal with HEART is to be able to address the root cause and not the symptoms,” Miller says. “Instead of continuing to put them in the cycle that ultimately results in them losing things like Medicaid because of criminal charges, we are proposing a solution.”