Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill are not taking the Justice Department’s statement that the city is “soft on crime” lying down.
The mayor fired back at Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump during a news conference on Friday, calling the DOJ’s statement “outrageous.”
“President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have to make a decision immediately about this statement, because it has denigrated not only the people of New York City, but the men and women of the NYPD,” de Blasio said during a news conference. “It is an outrageous statement, and it’s absurd on its face, and ignores a quarter-century of progress in this city in bringing down crime.”
The letter from the Justice Department is just the latest in an ongoing fight between the Trump administration and so-called sanctuary cities over federal immigration policy.
“New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance,” the DOJ statement said before demanding that New York City and eight other sanctuary cities comply with federal policy or risk losing federal funding.
O’Neill said the DOJ’s statement made his blood boil: “This is really insulting.”
“Cops are hurt every day. Cops are killed in the line of duty,” O’Neill said at the news conference. “This is insulting to the memory of Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, [Officers] Randolph Holder, Brian Moore, Joe Liu, Rafael Ramos. I find this statement to be absolutely outrageous.”
New York City has seen historically low crime rates in recent years. Overall crime in the city dropped 5.2 percent in the first three months of 2017, making it the safest first quarter in modern history, the NYPD said on April 4.
The DOJ later attempted to clarify its statement, saying in another news release that it was criticizing de Blasio’s policies, not the NYPD, according to The New York Times.