NYC Mayor Giuliani's "Safe Streets" address on 21 Nov 1999 FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 20 Dec 1999 16:09:00 -0800 (PST)


FWD

"The streets of our city and other civilized cities are not places
for people to sleep. If they do try to sleep in the streets of the
city, they're indicating that they have serious problems, problems
that should result in their being removed - not being ignored - so
we can deal with the problems." -- NYC Mayor "Rudy" Giuliani

                       MAYOR'S MESSAGE

Mayor's WINS Address
Sunday, November 21, 1999


     Treating the Mentally Ill - and Keeping the Streets Safe for
                           All New Yorkers
                       by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani


New Yorkers are praying for the recovery of Nicole Barrett, the young
woman who was attacked on the street by a stranger with a brick. It's a
terrible tragedy, and one that rightfully has people all across the city
concerned.

Most of the concern has been focused on the presumption, at this point,
that Nicole Barrett's attacker is mentally ill-a fact that will not be
confirmed until the police actually catch him.

But the attack does raise many important and urgent questions. But before
I discuss those, I want to say that it's very important for New Yorkers to
have a sense of perspective-because all too often, in reacting to shocking
incidents, people get caught up in fear and hysteria and forget to
consider the facts reasonably.

To begin with, New York City is the safest large city in America, and this
year we are once again experiencing a substantial decline-of about 10
percent-in violent crime.

And second of all, as horrible as this tragedy is, it's important not to
overreact to it by distorting or unfairly characterizing mentally ill
people. The vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent, and with
treatment can have productive, peaceful, independent lives. Very few
mentally ill people cause any danger to others. That's a critically
important point, because too many people are quick to paint the mentally
ill with a broad brush.

That said, we should also be careful not to go so far in the other
direction that we romanticize severe mental illness or all homelessness,
which at times does, in fact, result in people being violent. The streets
of our city and other civilized cities are not places for people to sleep.
If they do try to sleep in the streets of the city, they're indicating
that they have serious problems, problems that should result in their
being removed - not being ignored - so we can deal with the problems.

When America de-institutionalized the mental hospitals because they were
ineffective and in many cases inhumane, it did not, throughout this
country, build up community-based services that could treat people with
serious mental problems. De-institutionalization cut too many mentally ill
people loose without giving society the tools or the funding to treat them
correctly.

By signing Kendra's Law, Governor Pataki has begun to change that. But the
funding for mental health services required by Kendra's Law will not
arrive for many months, so the City of New York is immediately spending
its own money to expand its network of mental health services in an
intelligent and accountable way. That's the most sensible and humane
solution for everyone.

This is Rudy Giuliani.

END FORWARD


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