Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan offered two vastly different opinions Monday for the sudden surge in street shootings across New York City culminated by a bloody Fourth of July weekend.
During the mayor’s July 6 press conference at City Hall, he and Monahan had agreed that the city had been hit by a “perfect storm” of crime. While de Blasio linked the spike to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Monahan was more strident, blaming bail reform, the early release of inmates from Rikers Island, and a failure of some leaders to support the police.
The mayor has taken a conciliatory stand on bail reform; he has maintained that releasing prisoners from Rikers Island was the right thing to do “because we had a public health crisis.”
De Blasio believes one contributing factor to the crime rise are court systems that “are not working” due to the pandemic. Because certain functions have been suspended for public safety, a number of those arrested for crime are being released back into the community.
“The fact that the court system is not functioning and then police [make arrests] and there is no follow through from courts, Commissioner [Dermot] Shea is working on that to get it up and running,” de Blasio said.
Mayor de Blasio said Shea is meeting with district attorney’s to convince them to prosecute crimes and stop putting criminals back on the streets. He said the commissioner would seek the reopening of the courts in order to prevent the immediate release of those arrested for gun-related crimes.
The NYPD maintains that many of those released from Rikers are now committing new crimes, and many released under bail reform are also involved in the seven major felonies, including murder.
“A lot of different things are going on – bail reform, releases from prison, courts are shut down, half the population of the jails are out and the animosity towards police tremendous,” Monahan said. “Everyone is trying to fight police officers when they want to make an arrest. We want to hear support for cops leaders to speak up for the police who are out there. Morale is low and the rhetoric is a small minority.”
Monahan said they are seeking input from the community as to what they want officers to do for them.
“Neighborhood policing is designed to get them on our side, to ask them what they want from police and we need to deal with the community,” Monahan said. “Our concentration on quality of life led to reduced crime. We need to know from the community how they want their neighborhood policed.”
Further, Monahan blasted the City Council for passing the chokehold laws to include using a knee to hold down a prisoner who is resisting. He said cops “are afraid to make an arrest of someone resisting.”
Even so, the chief dismissed speculation that officers were “slowing down.”
“Our guys not slowing down,” he said. “Investigations take time, homicide investigations are not overnight and there are a number of arrests … and numerous individuals ready to indict. But we are waiting for the courts to open.”
Both the mayor and chief said the key to bringing violence under control is to bring together community organizations and reach those with guns before they use them.