Eric Adams calls plan to get mentally ill off the streets ‘uncharted waters’

Mayor Eric Adams said Thursday he was doing what his predecessors feared too much to do, by ordering police officers to take homeless people with mental illnesses into custody for psychiatric evaluations.

“We’re going into uncharted waters where others were afraid,” Adams said. “Someone else has picked up on this issue, and fear cannot stop us from doing the right thing.”

Adams – who spoke to reporters from Athens, Greece, where he is attending a conference on anti-Semitism – has also slammed critics of his plan, which drew a stir from liberal Democrats like Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and the City Council Progressive Caucus that has marked it excited a “Band-Aid” solution.

“Everyone tells us not to take this initiative and follow the law that is already in the books,” said the mayor.

“Are they saying that we should continue the policy of ignoring people who are unable to take care of their basic needs? I mean, even legal aid [Society] sent out a press release focusing on what we are doing.”

FDNY Engine 33 and FDNY Paramedics attempt to revive a man who died on the Broadway Lafayette Subway platform.
Paramedics try to revive a man who died on the Broadway-Lafayette subway platform.
William Farrington for the NY Post

Adams added, “So you’re never going to find a policy that every New Yorker is going to agree with. But everyone agrees that this is inhumane for people living in this condition.”

Hizzoner unveiled his plan Tuesday after horrific subway attacks of late.

Adams said police officers and other city workers are being trained to identify people who can’t take care of themselves, aside from cases as obvious as someone “walking around barefoot in the middle of winter” and “hallucinating.”

A homeless man sits on a bench on a subway platform.
The plan follows a recent spate of subway attacks.
Stephen Yang for the NY Post

“By using the methods of telemedicine and a trained clinical person, the officials and the mental health professionals who will be in the field can provide assistance,” he added.

In response to a question from The Post, Adams reiterated City Hall’s claim that training for the program began Tuesday, though several senior NYPD sources told The Post Wednesday they only learned about it from coverage.

“We made it clear at the press conference,” Adams said. “The training started that day, started that day. We announced, made an announcement of months of planning. We made an announcement to the people of New York City.”

A homeless man sleeps in the Jamaica Avenue J subway station in Manhattan.
Authorities are being trained to identify people who cannot take care of themselves.
Stephen Yang for the NY Post

Those comments contradicted Adams’ speech, in which he said, “This new focus took place this morning and we will soon be making it available to all current members of the Mobile Crisis Teams and NYPD.”

Adams also tried to downplay The Post’s coverage – which was based on multiple reporters with multiple independent and high-level sources, as well as commentary from DCPI – saying: “The focus is on the rumors of people or people saying that their sources, I’m not busy.

“I have carried out a plan that is long overdue to be carried out,” he said. “That’s the only question I have. So if your source tells you they didn’t know and they were blind, guess what? That is the opinion of your source.”

A homeless man sleeps in the 2nd Avenue F subway station in Manhattan.
Adams announced his plan for the homeless this week, which some senior NYPD members said they only found out about from the coverage.
Stephen Yang for the NY Post

On Wednesday afternoon, the NYPD issued a statement saying it was “currently in the process of aligning its policies, guidance and training in accordance with the mayor’s direction received by the department Tuesday.”

Hours later, the department released a follow-up statement that said, “To be clear, every city agency received this directive yesterday, but we have been working with the mayor’s office for months on this important initiative.”

NYC mental health crisis presser
Adams doubled down on City Hall’s claim that training for the program began on Tuesday.
Paul Martinka for the NY Post

That happened around the same time that City Hall press secretary Fabien Levy used similar words to tell The Post: “The final policy was only issued yesterday, but we’ve been working on it for months [the NYPD] on this initiative.”

https://nypost.com/2022/12/01/eric-adams-calls-plan-to-get-mentally-ill-off-streets-uncharted-waters/ Eric Adams calls plan to get mentally ill off the streets ‘uncharted waters’

JACLYN DIAZ

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