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

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.

This story is part of the New England News Collaborative. It was originally published by New England Public Media.

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