High-ranking sources within the New York City Police Department say they were "blindsided" when Mayor Eric Adams announced in a directive this week that officers will start taking homeless people into custody for psychiatric evaluations and for possible involuntary commitment to hospitals.
Adams unveiled his plan Tuesday in a speech after a surge in attacks on the city's subway, and sources tell The New York Post that left officers on Wednesday to scramble into making the orders happen.
"It's kind of a hot mess," one source said.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who did not attend Adams' announcement, along with new acting Chief of Patrol Jeffrey Maddrey and other top officials met with the NYPD's attorneys on Wednesday to discuss the order, the Post's sources said.
One source, saying the department was "blindsided," accused city hall of having "jumped the gun on this."
Another source commented that "like everything else, it gets dumped in our lap, and we're expected to solve the problem without any guidance."
However, Wednesday, city officials denied that the department had been taken by surprise, and the NYPD said in a prepared statement that it is "aligning its policy, guidance, and training in conformance with the mayor's directive which the department received on Tuesday."
In a later statement the department said that "to be clear, every city agency received this directive yesterday; however, we have been working with the mayor's office for months regarding this important initiative."
City Hall press secretary Fabien Levy told the Post: "Your sources are wrong," as "the final directive was just issued yesterday, but we have been working for months with [the NYPD] on this initiative."
Adams said during his speech that it was a "misconception" that mentally ill people must appear "imminently dangerous" to be taken into custody.
He also said Tuesday the first training for the directive would be implemented the same day, but several NYPD supervisors told the Post they only learned about the training from the media coverage of the mayor's speech and that they hadn't been told anything about the training.
The new directive comes after a memo back in February from the state Office of Mental Health, which said law enforcement officers are authorized to force people who appear unable "to meet basic living needs, even when there is no recent dangerous act" to undergo psychiatric examinations.
Wednesday, a spokesman from that office said the training was "being discussed" for the NYPD and New York Fire Department EMTs through the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Meanwhile, in October, the mayor and Gov. Kathy Hochul previewed training plans through a news conference announcing a program for increasing subway safety.
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