‘We have much to do’: Mayor Adams defends administration’s record on public safety

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Mayor Eric Adams with Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell at City Hall on Wednesday.
Matt Tracy

Mayor Eric Adams, flanked by members of his team at City Hall on Wednesday, defended his administration’s work on public safety since taking office in January.

“We have much to do,” Adams said at a press conference at the City Hall rotunda. “There are difficult roads ahead to make sure all New Yorkers are safe, but I’m proud of what we have done.”

The mayor cited a number of crime-related statistics as he pointed to areas of improvement — including a 17% drop in shootings and a 12% drop in homicides in 2022 — and he stood by his oft-criticized plan to remove certain individuals from city streets. The mayor touched on several additional areas of policing, as well, as he vowed to step up work on issues such as traffic enforcement and hate crimes in the new year.

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, standing to the mayor’s left, also played up the NYPD’s work this year and said she would bolster recruitment amid reports of officers leaving the department.

“We recognize there is work we need to do inside the NYPD,” Sewell said. “[There are] some strategies we want to implement, some restructuring of the police department as well… As we all know, we’ve lost some talent in the NYPD, but there is a tremendous amount of talent as well in the NYPD, and we’re going to continue our recruitment efforts to make the NYPD bigger and better.”

Members of the Adams administration surround the mayor at City Hall on Wednesday.
Members of the Adams administration surround the mayor at City Hall on Wednesday.Matt Tracy

The mayor also used the opportunity to voice his frustrations about bail reform and what he described as a “bottlenecked” criminal justice system. The press conference was held just hours after an NYPD officer was shot in the foot in Brooklyn by a suspect who has been arrested more than a dozen times in Georgia, according to news reports, and the mayor also cited the repeated arrests of an individual who allegedly broke into the home of movie star Robert De Niro.

During the Q&A portion of the press conference, the mayor blasted news coverage of the administration’s plan to remove certain individuals from the streets. The press, he insisted, gave New Yorkers the impression that anyone suffering from mental health issues “will be rounded up and placed in a mental institution.”

“That’s not what we said,” Adams said. “We were very clear.” Rather, he said the plan is focused on “the small body of people who have reached a point that they cannot take care of their basic needs and are in danger to themselves.”

Adams said the first phase of that new policy will include training personnel to give them clarity on how to approach individuals. 
The mayor also expressed concerns about the plan to close Rikers, a notorious jail complex where 19 individuals have died this year alone.

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio and former City Council Speaker Corey Johnson agreed on a plan to close Rikers. Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina told the City Council last week that Rikers’ population could remain too high to close the jail by 2027.

“What do we do if we close Rikers, spend $10 billion, and we still don’t have the population down to where it’s supposed to be?” Adams asked. “What do we do? ‘Ok, you committed a homicide. No vacancy in our jails.’ So we are concerned with what happens with the next level of this… The vision of closing Rikers is an admirable decision. To get it right is a safety vision, and I have to get it right.”