Mentally ill New Yorkers diverted by cops to two new centers operated by first lady Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC can check out any time they like, documents filed with the city comptroller reveal — and residents of the two neighborhoods that will host the facilities are up in arms.
The facilities, first proposed in 2014, will finally open in January in East Harlem and Williamsbridge in The Bronx after years of delays, and are budgeted to cost $9.5 million annually.
Once open, the initiative will have NYPD cops in those two neighborhoods take people they find exhibiting symptoms of a mental health crisis to the centers for treatment instead of to the precinct for processing and then on to a city hospital for evaluation — keeping them out of the criminal justice system.
However, the “guests,” as McCray’s $1 billion Thrive initiative refers to them, will have the right to get up and walk out if they don’t want treatment, leaving locals worried about safety and security.
“This is a great thing for the city, but it’s not appropriate for this community,” George Torres, district manager of The Bronx’s Community Board 12, told The Post.
“We’re not the No. 1 in 911 calls pertaining to EDPs [emotionally disturbed persons]. We’re No. 11 [citywide],” he said. “They never really answered our question why they wanted the diversion center in this community.”
The program is one of a series of initiatives launched by City Hall and the city police department to better handle New Yorkers struggling with mental illness after a string of high-profile police shootings left 15 people dead.
City Hall frequently touted McCray’s ThriveNYC mental health effort as the number of 911 calls for New Yorkers in mental distress ballooned. But the program found itself under the microscope after it repeatedly failed to track the effectiveness of its big-dollar programs.
But the program found itself under the microscope after it repeatedly failed to track the effectiveness of its big-dollar programs.
The Post has previously reported on the program’s delays.
Ashwin Vasan, CEO of Fountain House, one of the city’s most successful private mental health programs, said while there was no mandate to keep people in treatment, he was “hopeful” the centers would help people in crisis.
“The fact these centers exist is so important because at the moment our police are trying to do jobs they’re not well trained to do, mainly crisis intervention,” Vasan said.
“Cops, too, they need to know there’s a partner for them, a resource for them,” he continued.
The Big Apple physician said the success on the Thrive centers would depend on the quality of services they offered.
“My hope is the diversion centers will provide services that will be engaging to the person and they will want to stay.”
Word of the self-release from the facilities was first reported Friday by The City news website.