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The urgency of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “NYC Safe” plan came into sharp relief the other day when a relative of actor Morgan Freeman was stabbed to death. We cannot say with certainly what drove her assailant to stab her repeatedly, but it seemed to be an incident spurred by mental illness, which the mayor’s plan targets.

We applaud this initiative, and it can’t come fast enough for the thousands of New Yorkers who meet the plan’s two strict requirements—a history of mental illness and a history of violent behavior. When totally realized and active sometime this fall, NYC Safe will combine the Department of Health, the NYPD and homeless service agencies, with the purpose of identifying and treating the mentally disturbed, particularly those with a history of acting out violently.

At a cost of $22 million annually, NYC Safe will create a hub to maintain files of those who fit the specified criteria. The mayor has stressed that the plan is not designed merely for the homeless, but for anyone, no matter where they live.

“If someone has one or more assault convictions and is known to our mental health professionals as someone who needs care, and is not getting it, that’s going to register in this hub, a kind of ‘air traffic control,’” de Blasio said at a press conference. “Literally there are going to be people watching to see [if those] meeting these criteria are not getting the help they need.”

He added that help may come in various forms of treatment as proposed by the Department of Health. Ideally, this initiative is a positive move on a situation that becomes more pressing with each passing day and with each horrific incident. It’s much too early to determine the impact of such a plan. We will have to wait and to see exactly how it’s implemented and the degree to which it begins to bring relief and increase safety in the streets.

How the mayor’s plan conforms to the advocacy and treatment of the National Alliance on Mental Illness is a question we raise. From NAMI, we are informed of the complexity of this illness and how these medical conditions can trigger all sorts of unpredictable behavior from moment to moment. It’s hard to believe that the DOH is not in touch with NAMI and the valuable experience the agency has acquired in diagnosing and treating the various types of mental illness.

Encouraging, too, is the announcement of three new mobile treatment teams as part of the plan. These teams are units that can be readily dispatched wherever there is an emergency and a need for intensive care.

Of course, there are far too many cases in which even the best laid plans to deal with mental illness will be too late or too inadequate. But that failing should not impede the aims and purposes of NYC Safe. We need this plan as well as other measures to assist and treat the mentally ill and ensure safe streets.