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Exclusive: Photos Show Homeless Man Taking Bath In Columbus Circle Fountain

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It was a shocking scene at one of the city's most visited landmarks.

CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer obtained exclusive images of what some call the latest public insult of Mayor Bill de Blasio's New York City.

Pictures were snapped of a homeless man taking a bath in the fountain at Columbus Circle, a popular city landmark that is now the bathtub of a bum.

The man who took the photo called the incident simply appalling.

"This, for me, was the tipping point on quality of life. This man is actually lathering up with a bar of soap," Ken Frydman said.

The homeless man also stores his toiletries under the benches near the fountain, Kramer reported.

Frydman is no ordinary New Yorker. He worked for former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

When asked if Giuliani would have tolerated such behavior, Frydman said, "No, no, this man would have been approached and questioned and taken probably to a psychiatric facility. I see a progressive backsliding of civility and quality of life in the city."

The man apparently sees the fountain as his home base. On Wednesday, CBS2 cameras caught him hanging out at the fountain for hours, with the police doing nothing.

Kramer then sought out the mayor to demand answers.

Kramer: "I have in my hand a picture of a man who takes a daily bath, with soap I might add, in the fountains at Columbus Circle. I wonder what you can do about this?"

De Blasio: "We are going to enforce quality-of-life offenses. The fact is (NYPD) Commissioner (Bill) Bratton is dedicating a lot of resources right now to hot spots where we believe we're having serious quality-of-life issues and you're going to see the effect of that very quickly."

Kramer: "But when you see somebody taking a bath in…"

De Blasio: "Again, I've answered the question."

The police commissioner said that part of his plan to address the homeless will be to train about 10,000 cops to deal with the problem of how to cope with the street homeless, about 40 percent he said are emotionally disturbed.

The four-day course expands a pilot program currently in place in northern Manhattan, 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa reported.

NYPD To Train More Officers On How To Better Deal With Emotionally Disturbed People

"A lot of it has to do with how do you approach a person that might have emotional issues, the de-escalation that goes on with that, trying to identify symptoms of schizophrenia versus an overdose in drugs," Bratton said.

The officers will be accompanied in many cases by medical experts or homeless outreach experts to handle disruptive or quality-of-life situations, Bratton added.

"Mayor, address this issue. This gentleman, as we're conducting this interview, is sitting on the Columbus Circle statue, I believe preparing to take his daily bath, okay? He is doing this without any fear of reprisal whatsoever," Frydman said.

The mayor said his wife, first lady Chirlane McCray, is working on a comprehensives plan to deal with the homeless, especially those with mental health issues.

Kramer has asked repeatedly when the plan will be put into action, but it's still unclear.


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