Top cop Sewell, Manhattan DA Bragg meet to hammer out criminal justice reform issues

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell
Photo by Dean Moses

In an apparent effort to air out their differences on criminal justice reform, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell met behind closed doors Tuesday.

The talks included “senior staff members met to discuss issues of mutual concern,” according to a joint statement from both elected officials.

“The discussion was open, candid and productive,” they noted.

This meeting comes after some public criticism of DA Bragg’s new policy of not prosecuting certain low-level offenders and minimizing other criminal charges. Previously, Commissioner Sewell had publicly voiced concerns with these new policies.

“I believe in criminal justice reform. I believe in reform that make sense when applied collaboratively,” said Sewell in a memo Jan. 7. “In that same vein, I am concerned about sweeping edicts that seem to remove discretion, not just from police officers, but also from Assistant District Attorneys regarding what crimes to prosecute and how to charge them.”

Bragg responded to the memo the morning of Jan. 8, stating that a dialogue must be started, however not through the media. 

“We share Commissioner Sewell’s call for frank and productive discussions to reach common ground on our shared mission to deliver safety and justice for all and look forward to the opportunity to clear up some misunderstandings.” said Bragg.

However, in the joint statement released Tuesday, it seems Bragg and Sewell had ironed out at least some of their grievances, having reached an agreement on how to further collaborate on these issues.

“The meeting was to share ideas and examine policy differences that could be clarified and harmonized toward a common vision that acknowledges the need for criminal justice reform and alternatives to incarceration,” according to the statement. “The discussion was open, candid and productive. It was agreed that police and prosecutors would weigh the individual facts and circumstances of each case with a view toward justice and work together to keep New Yorkers safe.”

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