NEW YORK - In the wake of brutal attacks in both Chinatown and Queens, New York City now says it will review how it uses “Kendra’s Law,” a law that gives courts the authority to order psychiatric treatment.
The review will include members from the city’s Department of Mental Hygiene as well as the NYPD.
“We do have a lot of people who are living on the street who do display signs of mental illness, and we ought to have the type of wrap-around services that can get them off the street, as quick as possible, and into treatment,” said Stephen Levin, a member of the city council.
Levin says that he believes that, overall, the city deserves credit for its tackling of mental health issues in the past, but Friday’s announcement is not without its critics.
“We don’t need another task force, what we need is action,” said DJ Jaffee of MentalIlnessPolicy.org.
Jaffee says he believes the two alleged attackers this week would have been prime candidates for Kendra’s Law.
“Both of them had been through hospitals and shelters and jails. If we had someone evaluating them when they left those institutoins and provided them housing and treatment, these would have been avoided,” Jaffee said.
Levin says that the last two incidents are no doubt troubling, but are also outliers and reminded people that just because someone shows signs of mental illness it does not necessarily mean they are violent.