by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
New York City mayor Eric Adams (D.) on Tuesday empowered police to remove potentially dangerous mentally ill people from the street and commit them to psychiatric institutions, infuriating liberal groups who say the policy would cause “trauma.”
Adams signed an order instructing police to take mentally ill people into custody for psychiatric evaluations at hospitals. Liberal groups were quick to slam the effort, claiming the mayor’s approach would cause “trauma,” the New York Times reported. A New York City council member went as far as to suggest that police presence causes mentally ill people to become dangerous.
“The Mayor’s attempt to police away homelessness and sweep individuals out of sight is a page from the failed Giuliani playbook,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York chapter of the ACLU.
But New York City Police Department commissioner Keechant Sewell and other city officials welcomed the effort, saying it will resolve a lingering homelessness crisis, which posed a danger to citizens on public transportation this year.
“The NYPD works day and night to improve the quality of life of all New Yorkers, especially our city’s most vulnerable populations,” Sewell said in a statement. “This deserves the full support and attention of our collective efforts.”
The shift comes as crime in New York City approaches its highest level in decades, with a number of high-profile offenses in 2022 caused by mental illness. Just days after Adams’s inauguration, a homeless man with schizophrenia shoved a woman in front of an oncoming train, killing her. In April, a black nationalist, who had related his history of mental illness on social media, shot 10 people in a Brooklyn subway car.
More than 3,000 people live on the streets of New York City, according to a January report. Many are mentally ill.