FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday February 7, 2023

CONTACT: Zach Garafalo, Director of Advocacy, Mental Health Empowerment Project (MHEP), 518-362-7916,


The Mental Health Empowerment Project joined NAMI-NYC and other advocates at City Hall in New York to rally against Mayor Adam’s plan to sweep up people with disabilities who are not a danger to themselves or others.

“Governor Hochul must prevent Mayor Adams from arbitrarily locking up poor and Disabled people. Deputizing the NYPD as the morality police with the mandate to banish everyone they deem ‘mentally ill’ is discriminatory and exacerbates the problem,” said Amy Colesante, Chief Executive Officer at the Mental Health Empowerment Project.

“The Mayor’s plan is rooted in containment and control and underpinned by ableism, classism and misogyny,” said Zach Garafalo, Director of Advocacy at MHEP. “His plan is harmful, discriminatory and shortsighted. He is perpetuating the debunked myth that gun violence and mental health are linked.” 

MHEP points out that according to The Lancet Psychiatry, people with mental illness are twice as likely to be the victims of violent crime compared with those in the general population. “Nothing about the Mayor’s plan is ‘compassionate,’” said Colesante. “He is using the oldest trick in the book: giving people someone to blame. Our community is not to blame.”

“Poor, Disabled, Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC), undocumented and trans folks are already overrepresented in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, nursing facilities and other institutional settings,” said Garafalo. “Locking more people up will not stop gun violence. The Mayor needs to apologize for his plan and acknowledge that gun violence is bigger than one cause.”

MHEP calls on Governor Hochul to implement the recommendations of the State’s Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council (MISCC). The MISCC is responsible for ensuring that services for individuals with disabilities are provided in the most integrated setting possible for their needs.

Furthermore, MHEP urges Governor Hochul to appoint members of the Disability Community to the Municipal Law Enforcement Training Council to advise on curriculum. MHEP recommends that the Basic Course for Police Officers include more training on how to identify and communicate with Disabled individuals and people experiencing crisis. This training should be required at the same frequency as weapons qualification. MHEP also urges the Governor to expand Crisis Intervention (CIT) and Emotionally Disturbed Persons Response Teams (EDPRT). Officers in these specialized units receive regular, ongoing training on how to respond to situations involving people in crisis.

Governor Hochul must tell the Mayor to work directly with impacted communities to develop realistic community-based solutions that meet people where they are and get them connected to the supports they need with the respect and dignity they deserve.