New York Mayor Eric Adams issued a new order to address mental illness in the state, especially among the homeless. And while the mayor believes the new order will improve, others think it’ll only make matters worse by adding more police presence.
According to the new order, titled “Mental Health Involuntary Removals,” law enforcement is authorized to take a mentally ill person to a psychiatric facility without their consent if the individual cannot access basic human needs for living, deeming them a risk to themselves and others.
A health clinician should be present to better assess the individual before making any moves, but if there isn’t one, the cop would call a hotline for officers to instruct them on how to evaluate the person. Once it’s determined that the person needs to be taken to a medical facility to examine their mentality, officials can remove them from the public space they were in, against their will.
“Job one is to make it universally understood by our outreach workers, hospital staff and police officers that New York law already allows us to intervene when mental illness prevents a persona from meeting their basic human needs, causing them to be a danger to themselves,” Adams said.
However, according to New York Times, many mentally ill people aren’t on board with the idea of police officers sending the psychologically ill to medical facilities, especially homeless people, While the order doesn’t mention homeless people, the state’s mayor has been vocal about sweeping homeless people off the streets and into shelters or mental health facilities to protect New York citizens from harm.
“My mental state is being taken care of because it’s well-medicated; I try to keep it in control and don’t let it control me,” Brown said. “I’m scared that now I am going to be scared of that.
Brown is fearful that as a Black woman– police would target her.
According to Coalition for the homeless, there are over 60,000 homeless people in New York. About 3,400 people are unsheltered, living in subways and on the streets. Bronx Works reported that 30% of homeless single adults have mental health conditions. Over 50% of African Americans make up the homeless population, and, as written by the National Library of Medicine, African Americans are more like to be involuntarily committed for outpatient psychiatric care in New York than whites.
Blacks have had horrific experiences with law enforcement for years, from Rodney King to George Floyd. Although Adams is attempting to improve the well-being of those psychologically ill, Adams could’ve considered that since African Americans make up the majority of the state’s homeless population, mentally unstable Blacks and the authorization of police involuntarily committing mentally ill people don’t mix well.