NYC mayor issues directive to involuntarily hospitalize the mentally ill

by Jacob Fuller

Curt Flewelling, FISM News


New York City Mayor Eric Adams has announced a sweeping 11-point legislative initiative to combat the city’s growing mental health crisis that includes a directive that will expand the city’s ability to hospitalize individuals involuntarily, even if they pose no imminent danger to themselves or others.

Adams held a press conference on Tuesday where he told reporters, “The common misunderstanding persists that we cannot provide involuntary assistance unless the person is violent, suicidal, or presenting a risk of imminent harm. This myth must be put to rest.”

“Going forward, we will make every effort to assist those who are suffering from mental illness and whose illness is endangering them by preventing them from meeting their basic human needs.”

The shift in policy now gives the green light for peace officers, police officers, and mental health professionals to immediately take an individual into custody for the purpose of a psychiatric evaluation.

The mayor’s declaration is in large part a response to the dramatic rise in violent crime perpetrated by mentally unhealthy individuals in the city. Democrat politicians throughout the state have been roundly criticized for dragging their feet on the issue of public safety.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin made skyrocketing crime a major issue in the governor’s race as he came within 7 points of unseating incumbent Kathy Hochul.

The aggressive strategy has been lauded by many. Councilman Bob Holden (D-Queens) praised the mayor for “understanding the severity of this problem and his courage in tackling it head-on.”

However, not all politicians welcome the change in policy. Council member Diana Alaya (D-The Bronx/East Harlem) told the New York Post, “Police officers should not — and, quite frankly, do not — want to be part of these mental health decisions. Picking people up off the street and dragging them into the hospital based on a non-professional’s assessment scares me.”

Her concerns are echoed by the head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Donna Lieberman. She told the same outlet, “The federal and state constitutions impose strict limits on the government’s ability to detain people experiencing mental illness — limits that the mayor’s proposed expansion is likely to violate.”

However, city lawyers are confident that the mayor’s directive does not violate the personal rights of the mentally ill. They feel that the more expansive set of criteria pertaining to involuntary commitment put forth by Governor Hochul’s Office of Mental Health paves the way for the city to proceed with its new initiative.