Bill Would Force Police Notification When Mentally Ill Move In

Bronx building plagued by incidents involving mentally ill residents

By Chris Glorioso
|  Thursday, Oct 13, 2011  |  Updated 1:07 PM EDT
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Although Mary Daniels worries about building safety, she has a hard time supporting a measure that would treat psychologically ill people differently than ordinary tenants.

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Bill Would Force Notification When Mentally Ill Move In

A series of violent outbursts in one Bronx building has neighbors calling for tougher rules governing the mentally ill.
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A series of violent outbursts in one Bronx building has neighbors calling for tougher rules governing the mentally ill. 

For the last six months, 1545 Rhinelander Ave. has been plagued by one frightening episode after the next, residents say. 

On Sept. 28, police removed a man waving a Samurai sword in the building. 

Days before that, Mary Daniels says she and her daughter came home to find police cruisers and flashing lights outside.

"Someone was trying to jump from a window or from the roof," Daniels said.

One of the incidents proved deadly. On March 21, a mentally ill 46-year-old threatened his roommate with a six-inch steak knife. 

When the attacker picked up another blade and charged at police officers, they shot him dead.

The incidents have prompted State Sen. Jeff Klein to introduce a bill that would require the state health department to notify police when they place some mentally ill clients in residential housing. 
The law would only apply if those clients had been violent in the past.

"This is not going to be advertised on the Internet, it's not going to be widely used, but I think local law enforcement has to be able to know what they're responding to," Klein said.

Still, some mental health advocates have expressed concerns the law would violate privacy rights for mentally troubled citizens who have never broken the law.  

Although Mary Daniels worries about building safety, she has a hard time supporting a measure that would treat psychologically ill people differently than ordinary tenants.

"Everybody has a right to a place to live," she said.

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