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NYPD moves ahead with Eric Adams’ new mental illness policy, despite lack of training

Big Apple cops have yet to receive training or detailed guidance on how to enforce Mayor Adams’ new mental health plan — but NYPD brass wants them to implement it anyway, according to a new order obtained by The Post.

The one-page memo mostly reiterates NYPD’s existing policy: Cops are allowed to bring a homeless person to the hospital for a psych evaluation against their will if they pose a threat to themselves or others.

But under Adams’ hastily rolled out policy, police must decide whether to bring someone in if they’re unable to take care of themselves — and can do so even without that person’s cooperation.

“Officers should continue to remove a person for evaluation when that person appears mentally ill and the person’s actions present a threat of serious harm to themselves or others,” reads the order from Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell dated Tuesday morning.

“But officers should also be aware that removal is also appropriate when a person appears to be mentally ill and incapable of meeting basic human needs and such neglect is likely to result in serious harm to that person.”

Sewell’s directive provides one example of an ” incoherent person” with three general factors to consider for an involuntary transport: if the person is “unable to assess and safely navigate their surroundings;” if the officers believe they can’t find shelter or food, or other things “need for survival.”

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell and Mayor Eric Adams
Police must decide whether to bring someone in if they’re unable to take care of themselves — and can do so even without that person’s cooperation.
Daniel William McKnight for NY Post

The order — issued one week after Adams’ announcement — says “additional training will be forthcoming to all members of service.”

It also advises cops to reach out to the NYPD’s Legal Bureau “at all times” for direction.

Under the old policy, cops could only ask a person if they wanted to be taken to the hospital for mental treatment.

A police spokesperson said that the memo was written in consultation with the city Law Department and police attorneys. 

“Officers already receive significant training on encounters with those experiencing mental illness as well as their authority to conduct removals,” the spokesman said, adding that training has started in the police academy. 

The new memo comes amid a scramble by police leadership to enact the mayor’s plan, the announcement of which The Post previously reported caught brass off guard.

NYPD officials initially said they were first made aware of the new plan when it was announced, but hours later, walked back that statement, denying leadership was blindsided and that it’s been in the works for “months.”

Multiple high-placed sources confirmed to The Post, though, that police brass and NYPD lawyers rushed in the days after the announcement to get the policy on the books.

One police source who has advised on NYPD Patrol Guide policy raised red flags over the vague wording that leaves the guidance open to wide interpretation.

Homeless people sleeping, junkies roaming and vagrants on the streets.
Mayor Adams’ new plan seeks to have more homeless people with mental illness involuntarily taken to hospitals by the NYPD.
Christopher Sadowski

“Just to say mentally ill is such a broad statement … I don’t even know if they know what it means,” the source said, adding they didn’t believe the mayor’s policy would hold up in court.

But the source said the Adams administration — specifically the mayor — doesn’t want any pushback when rolling out his plans.

“So now what you have is NYPD Legal trying to almost make up stuff to appease whoever the decision-maker is without any disagreement,” the source said.

The NYPD has a training program for dealing with mentally ill people on the streets, though it does not include anything on involuntary transports, sources say.

Police have tens of thousands of interactions with homeless people each year.

In 2019, cops made contact with roughly 125,000 people with only about 3,000 accepting various services, not just for mental health.

On Thursday, lawyers and activists filed the first legal challenge to Adams’ new plan, asking a judge to halt its implementation because of alleged human rights violations.