NEW YORK CITY – Today, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a lawsuit against the NYPD in New York State Supreme Court for unlawfully denying the NYCLU’s request for information related to Mayor Adams’s November 2022 announcement that the administration will detain and forcibly hospitalize people with perceived mental illness – even when they pose no imminent harm.
“New Yorkers have a right to know how the Adams administration is training the NYPD and other agencies to carry out immoral initiatives that target people experiencing homelessness and people with disabilities,” said Beth Haroules, senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “If the NYPD is playing fast and loose with the constitution, the Adams administration must be prepared to show their receipts. We will use every tool at our disposal to uncover how the NYPD and city agencies are sweeping individuals experiencing homelessness out of view, ignoring clinical guidance through forced treatment and detention, and exacerbating bias against unhoused people and people with mental illness who are more likely to be the victim than perpetrator of crime.”
The NYCLU submitted a Freedom of Information Law request (FOIL) on December 13, 2022, seeking the policies, procedures and trainings as articulated by the Mayor in his public comments and as mandated by the Mayor’s November 28, 2022 policy directive on involuntary detentions. The NYPD has refused to respond to this request or share any documents, and instead told the NYCLU that they would respond by May 2023. When the NYCLU appealed that response, stating that the NYPD had constructively denied its request to produce documents related the Administration’s public announcements, the NYPD denied the NYCLU’s appeal.
“The Mayor’s policy of detaining individuals in need of housing and social services against their will certainly sounds unconstitutional, but the City has stonewalled our efforts, as well as those of the City Council and a host of other advocates, to find out exactly what the NYPD and other agencies have been told to do,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “The federal and state constitutions impose strict limits on the government’s ability to detain people experiencing mental illness – limits that the Mayor’s revived Giuliani-era policy is likely to violate. We will see the NYPD, and any other agency that refuses to share information on this harmful policy with the public, in court.”
You can find case materials here.
Read the NYCLU’s take on homelessness, mental health and policing here.