Another Subway Death Solution: NYPD Tracking of Mentally Ill?

Okay, the platform doors, laser alert system and the advice for conductors to slow down were one thing. But this goes a little above and beyond that.

Yesterday, news came that the NYPD, in accordance with the Health Department, has tracked down 25 mentally ill patients that have been deemed dangerous and on "mental hygiene warrants." And, contrary to the MTA and the Transit Workers Union, the NYPD has no problem going right ahead with this "solution" to the subway death problem.
Apparently, the law enforcement agency is using this "real life crime center" to arrest them, which we believe is similar to the one Morgan Freeman's character has access to in The Dark Knight.

In other words, the NYPD is on the lookout for those behind the subway incidents that have occurred over the past few months -- situations where innocent passerby's were pushed onto the tracks by said suspects, all of which have raised major concerns about subway safety in recent weeks. The "epidemic" even prompted an emergency hearing by Councilman Joe Vacca (except it basically turned into a yelling match between the MTA and the union).

We're still unsure if surveillance is the best or the creepiest way to combat this problem. Actually wait, no, the bloody MetroCards were. But this is a close second.

There are two main issues in this debate: the effectiveness of Kendra's Law and the fact that, yes, the NYPD is surveilling (and then arresting) citizens.

Kendra's Law was passed in New York State in 1999 after a bump in subway deaths. The legislation gives judges the right to order involuntary treatment to those who meet the criteria of "mentally ill." However, the patients under watch are not legally required to take their medication. Fast forward to last December: it was discovered that Erika Menendez, arrested for fatally pushing a man onto the tracks for being a Muslim, was not taking hers.

Unfortunately, surveillance is not a new subject for the NYPD. The Muslim wiretapping controversy last year brought new light on what has been going on with the Boys in Blue in this post-9/11 world. Except some of the suspected were college kids on an Ivy League white-water rafting trip. In this case, the targeted are the mentally ill; citizens that have been put on this watch list for simply not taking their medication, proving to authorities that, almost automatically, they provide some sort of threat to society. It's like this strange intersection between quasi-Orwellian tendencies and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Next.

The Voice will keep you updated on this story as it progresses. Because we're sure it will.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

 I hope the author of this article is just being intentionally misleading in order to further some agenda of his because if not, he may very well be someone in serious need of involuntary mental health treatment."  

with that statement, you've just convinced me that the author's agenda might have some validity to it... who else do you think might be in need of some involuntary mental health treatment... hey, why stop there... lets pass laws making it legal to emasculate em all...

Germany, 1939 comes to mind...


What a ridiculously biased article. The NYPD aren't using "surveillance" of citizens to combat the problem---they're using their intelligence center to actively attempt to locate people who have mental health WARRANTS out for them. They're not just following people around because they think they might be crazy. They're using their resources to locate mentally ill people with active WARRANTS. These are violent, seriously mentally ill people. They must meet very specific criteria under Kendra's law and have gone off of their court ordered treatment program forcing their doctors to request that a judge immediately issue a mental health warrant and that the NYPD find these people and bring them to a mental health facility before they harm themselves or others. The NYPD then uses the Real Time Crime Center computer databases to attempt to locate these people once the warrant is issued. That's not some "strange intersection between quasi-Orwellian tendencies and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest"---it's a doctor asking the police to help find someone who is a serious danger to the community. I also love how the author says Kendra's law was passed after a "bump in subway deaths." That's like saying the NYPD started a counter-terrorism bureau after a "plane crash" in lower Manhattan in early September 2001. The law was passed after a schizophrenic lunatic went off of his medication and treatment plan and decided to brutally murder Kendra Webdale by throwing her in front of a train. The law was passed in order to give judges and doctors the power to compel people with serious mental illness to participate in outpatient mental health treatment on a regular basis. To qualify for involuntary treatment under Kendra's law, a doctor must make a clinical determination that the person in unlikely to survive safely in the community without treatment, has a mental illness that resulted in acts of serious violent behavior toward self or others, and is unlikely to voluntarily participate in treatment as a result of their serious mental illness, among several other specific criteria. If a doctor and a judge find these things to be present in a person and the person absconds from treatment, yes the NYPD will attempt to find the person once the judge issues a mental health warrant. That's not some "big brother" conspiracy to conduct "creepy surveillance" of crazy people. It's called serving a warrant. I hope the author of this article is just being intentionally misleading in order to further some agenda of his because if not, he may very well be someone in serious need of involuntary mental health treatment.

Now Trending

New York Concert Tickets

From the Vault