NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Bill de Blasio is ordering a review of New York City’s mental health services.
This comes less than a week after police say a homeless man killed four people in Chinatown, and less than a day after an emotionally disturbed homeless person is accused of attacking a 6-year-old boy in Queens.
The boy was attacked in a driveway on Metropolitan Avenue in Queens. Police say a shirtless 35-year-old Laurence Gendreau randomly grabbed the 6-year-old and threw him to the ground, causing serious head injuries. It happened just before 5 p.m. Thursday as the boy waited for a pizza delivery.
“I don’t wish that upon anybody. It’s not normal,” said the boy’s father, Yaakov Portnoy.
Police say Gendreau has a long criminal history, is emotionally disturbed and homeless.
“More education and finances should be put toward people that have some kind of disturbance,” said Kew Gardens resident Starling Sanders.
So Friday, de Blasio announced the city will conduct a 30 day review of how it’s using Kendra’s Law, which requires psychiatric treatment for certain people, and other interventions like mobile treatment teams.
The effort will be lead by the Department of Health and the NYPD as well as the Department of Homeless Services. All three must work together to review records of those in need, and make sure no one slips through the cracks.
DJ Jaffe of MentalIllnessPolicy.org believes nearly half of the seriously mentally ill aren’t getting treated and the review isn’t enough.
“Instead of taking action, the mayor ordered another review,” he said.
Jaffe says the city should instead redirect the first lady’s mental health initiative Thrive NYC to focus on:
- People coming out of the hospital after involuntary commitment
- People coming out of jail who are mentally ill
- People with serious mental illness in shelters
For now, people who live near Thursday’s incident say they are keeping their children closer than ever before, as the victim’s father struggles to heal.
“I am also looking for the positive but this is a long, long road ahead of him,” Portnoy said.
The boy’s family says he’s critical but stable. He’s still intubated, but won’t need surgery.