New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) on Tuesday announced the city’s new plan to address mentally ill residents by hospitalizing them against their will, even if they do not pose an immediate safety risk to others.
Under Adams’ directive, New York City police officers, firefighters, and health department officials are allowed to involuntarily commit mentally ill individuals if they “cannot support their basic human needs to an extent that causes them harm.”
Previously, city officials were authorized to hospitalize mentally ill individuals who were dangerously violent and deemed an immediate threat to others. They would usually be discharged from the hospital after a few days when their conditions slightly improved.
Now, Adams’ directive authorizes “the removal of a person who appears to be mentally ill and displays an inability to meet basic living needs, even when no recent dangerous act has been observed.”
“If the circumstances support an objectively reasonable basis to conclude that the person appears to have a mental illness and cannot support their basic human needs to an extent that causes them harm, they may be removed for an evaluation,” the directive stated.
However, Adams and his staffers failed to define “basic needs” or provide any criteria for how city workers would determine if those needs are being met.
In announcing his plan, Adams claimed that the idea that city officials were only empowered to involuntarily hospitalize an individual if they are violent was a “myth” that “must be put to rest.”