New state law originated in Westchester allows behavioral health responders to use emergency lights

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) just signed legislation that will allow teams responding to behavioral health crises to use flashing green lights on their vehicles.

News 12 Staff

Dec 12, 2023, 1:03 PM

Updated 219 days ago

Share:

New state law originated in Westchester allows behavioral health responders to use emergency lights
You may start seeing a new type of emergency light on the road. 
Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) just signed legislation that will allow teams responding to behavioral health crises to use flashing green lights on their vehicles.
For flashing red lights, you're legally required to yield the right of way.
For flashing green lights, you're requested to yield.
The law was sponsored by State Senator Pete Harckham (D-40).  Deputy Commissioner Joseph Glazer and the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health worked with Harckham's team to draft the legislation. 
Westchester County Executive George Latimer launched "Project Alliance", which sends Mobile Crisis Response Teams across the County tied to police and a crisis network phone line to divert people with behavioral health crises to the services they need. 
"The goal of Project Alliance is really to help first responders across Westchester to be better prepared, and able to meet the needs of the communities we all serve. This measure, shepherded to adoption by our own Senator Harckham, and Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, will serve to help us get to people in crisis faster and more safely," Latimer said. 
"Allowing Mental Health Crisis teams professionals in transit to use green lights on vehicles will certainly save lives. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this legislation into law and Assemblymember Magnarelli for his steadfast efforts in galvanizing support for expanded behavioral health initiatives like this, which signals to residents that 'help is on the way.' The Green Light law promises to enhance community wellness in many ways," Harckham said. 
"Since the inception of this model, we have worked to reinforce that our Mobile Crisis Response Teams serve our community as true first responders. That means they are prepared to help when called, and arrive as quickly as safety allows. By adding the use of green emergency lights to the toolkits they have, they will be better able to meet the needs of the people of Westchester," Michael Orth, Commissioner of the County's Department of Community Mental Health, said. 
 "I am so appreciative of everyone who helped bring this idea to fruition. Senator Harckham and his staff, Assemblyman Magnarelli and his office, our colleagues at NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the Governor's office, and our own Westchester County intergovernmental team who all worked together to make this the law in New York State. Across Westchester and our entire state, access to these emergency lights will further enhance our ability to create seamless, efficient systems to address behavioral health crises," Deputy Commissioner Glazer said. 
It'll take effect in about six months, 180 days after the governor signed it. 


More from News 12