The New York Police Department hired a group of trained nurses to help officers with homeless outreach, the commissioner said Tuesday.
The nurses will give medical evaluations to homeless men and women in the city while police are interacting with them and encouraging them to check into shelters, the New York Daily News reported.
“Nurses are going out with police officers,” Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “This is a new age.”
The objective is to have the nurses follow along while officers are dispatched to respond to complaints of homeless encampments or when they are focused on areas where homeless tend to congregate.
“What we’re running into many times is mental illness," Shea said. "We’re running into people who, for many reasons, don’t want to go to a shelter.”
The commissioner said he hopes the deployment of medical professionals will help the department make the determination of whether an individual needs medical services or if they are a danger to themselves or others.
Shea said this will create a shift so that interaction with homeless will not just be “from a law enforcement perspective but from a medical perspective too.”