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Springfield City Council creates mental health committee after fatal shooting by police

Zaida Govan is a city councilor in Springfield, Massachusetts.
File photo / Douglas Hook
MassLive / MassLive.com
Zaida Govan is a city councilor in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The City Council in Springfield, Massachusetts, is creating a mental health committee, partly in response to a recent fatal shooting by police.

Orlando Taylor died in January after he was shot by a police officer during what Taylor's family said was a mental health crisis. The Hampden District Attorney's office ruled the shooting "reasonable and unavoidable" because Taylor attacked the officer with a knife.

City Councilor Zaida Govan said shoring up the region's mental health services, especially given the pandemic, could help prevent similar tragedies.

Govan, herself a social worker, will chair the mental health committee. She said she hopes it will shine a light on — even if it can't fix — a stressed system.

"I think we'll be able to come up with a plan to at least help the agencies that are already serving possibly encourage other agencies to step up and maybe participate in the work," Govan said. "I think a collaborative effort would be a lot more helpful than what's happening now."

Starting in about two months, Govan said the committee will talk to mental health professionals, police, and community members.

Karen is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998. Her features and documentaries have won a number of national awards, including the National Edward R. Murrow Award, Public Radio News Directors, Inc. (PRNDI) Award, Third Coast Audio Festival Award, and the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize.
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