Homeless crazies can’t be rounded up – until they attack
Laws keep future stabbers & subway pushers on street
These laws are insane.
- By CHUCK BENNETT
- Last Updated: 3:11 AM, December 10, 2012
- Posted: 1:11 AM, December 10, 2012
Mentally ill people have been responsible for some of the year’s most horrific crimes — including murders and rapes — yet authorities are nearly powerless under current law to sweep them from the streets.
Accused subway pusher Naeem Davis said he was off his meds for bipolar disorder and hearing voices before victim Ki Suk Han was killed by an oncoming train last Monday.
Davis, 30, had been living in a homeless shelter.
“The state Office of Mental Health says they can’t be treated until they [show they] are a danger to themselves or others,” said DJ Jaffe, a mental-illness policy analyst. “Rather than prevent violence, the law requires it.”
If Alzheimer’s patients are found wandering the streets, cops take them to a hospital no matter how loud their protests. But if a delusional schizophrenic sleeping on a subway platform turns down help from a concerned cop or homeless-outreach worker, then little can be done.
Until that person lashes out violently, that is.
For instance, OMH declined to commit Jonathan Stewart, a violent sex offender, to psychiatric treatment in 2009 after he spent five years in prison for two sex assaults. He ended up in a homeless shelter, then allegedly raped a 21-year-old woman in Hudson River Park last September.
Another schizophrenic off his meds, Curtis Forteau, wasn’t being forced to receive treatment despite years of violent outbursts.
After his most recent stint in jail, he spent a year in a residential facility but was out on probation in January. He soon stopped taking his medication and suddenly went berserk on East 86th Street in July, allegedly plunging his knife into innocent passerby Sabatha Tirado. She survived.
“Those out on the street when they are the most ill are not going to have any insight that they are ill and need help, and that’s why they turn it down,” said Mary Lee Gupta, a program director with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City.
Cops say they fear the mentally ill, dubbed EDPs for emotionally disturbed persons, the most.
“You have a lot of homeless EDPs, a lot of cases like the guy with the knife in Times Square who was shot down by the cops,” said one plainclothes cop in Midtown. “They should put these people in hospitals, mental wards. But you can’t force them to go unless they are a danger to themselves or somebody else.”
The cop was referring to Darius Kennedy, a 51-year-old Long Island man with a history of arrests and at least one trip to Bellevue’s psych ward. He was shot dead by cops he was menacing with a knife in August.
State and federal laws generally allow anyone to refuse medical treatment, including the mentally ill.
But, an unfortunate symptom of schizophrenia as well as a treatment-resistant bipolar disorder is anosognosia — they don’t even realize they are sick.
After Andrew Goldstein, a schizophrenic off his meds, pushed Kendra Webdale, 32, to her death at the 23rd Street N-train subway station in 1999, the state started to take notice.
The state legislature enacted Kendra’s Law, which allows the courts to order a sick person to receive outpatient treatment — and compels providers to treat them. Statewide, there about 1,850 individuals being treated under Kendra’s Law.
Yet plenty of sick — and dangerous — people fall through the cracks.
In the past weeks, images of shoeless Jeffrey Hillman getting a pair of new boots from a selfless cop, raised the question how the homeless man could remain on the streets like that.
Hillman, who has a slew of arrests for harassment, menacing and public lewdness, had been on the radar of the city’s Department of Homeless Services for years.
He was even given a federally subsidized apartment in The Bronx but still spends his time wandering around Manhattan begging.
He even continued to walk the streets barefoot after receiving his now-famous pair of boots.
A trend that began under the Reagan administration of de-institutionalizing psychiatric patients in favor of “community-based” care has led to the dumping of the mentally ill on city streets.
“There just aren’t enough services for everybody,” said Gupta.
“They get into the criminal justice system rather than get into psychiatric hospital and then receive little or no treatment,” she said. “The criminal justice system ends up having more psychiatric patients than hospitals.”
Kristy LeibowitzOFF HIS MEDS:Schizophrenic Curtis Forteau was on the streets despite years of outbursts when he allegedly stabbed a passerby on the Upper East Side in July.
This is why we get crazy people committing murders.