Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/broken-windows-policing 2017-11-23T11:20:12+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Broken Windows Policing Will Fuel the Trump Deportation Machine 2017-02-23T05:00:00+00:00 2017-02-23T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6774:broken-windows-policing-will-fuel-the-trump-deportation-machine Ben Max <p>&nbsp;<img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/rory-lancman-presser-city-hall.jpg" alt="rory lancman presser city hall" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>City Council Member Rory Lancman, the author (photo: @RoryLancman)</p> <hr /> <p>We’re now more than 30 days into Donald Trump’s presidency, and it is already crystal clear that the hostile and offensive rhetoric he used toward immigrants on the campaign trail will be put into practice by his administration.</p> <p>It was just this week that Trump’s Department of Homeland Security issued <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/21/us/politics/dhs-immigration-trump.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">new rules</a> that make clear Trump’s plan to deport millions of immigrants from our country, while tearing apart families and communities in the process.</p> <p>With thousands, if not tens of thousands, of immigrant New Yorkers now at risk of deportation, it is urgent that Mayor Bill de Blasio take real action to protect immigrant New Yorkers from possible deportation under Trump.</p> <p>The mayor has had no problem in recent weeks talking about opposing Trump and his policies, but when it comes down to it, talk is cheap. Real leadership requires bold action, and immigrant New Yorkers deserve action.</p> <p>But, here is the reality facing New York City today: Mayor de Blasio’s broken windows policing will now be the fuel for Donald Trump’s deportation machine.</p> <p>Without important and necessary action from the mayor, New Yorkers who are arrested for minor, nonviolent offenses could now be subject to deportation. That is inhumane and completely contrary to our values.</p> <p>Mayor de Blasio has the authority to take action immediately to protect immigrant New Yorkers -- without having to wait for the City Council, the State Legislature, or Congress. On his own, the mayor can direct the NYPD to stop arresting people, including immigrant New Yorkers, for low-level, nonviolent, quality-of-life crimes where a civil alternative is already readily available.</p> <p>Take fare evasion, for example. In 2015, more than 100,000 New Yorkers were stopped by the NYPD for fare evasion. Nearly 30,000 New Yorkers were arrested for “theft of services,” a misdemeanor under the state penal law. The remaining individuals were issued a civil summons for violating the MTA rule against fare evasion, which is not subject to any kind of criminal sanction.</p> <p>The difference between an arrest and a civil violation for fare evasion is monumental. A conviction for fare evasion could result in jail time, appear on an individual’s criminal record, and staggeringly enough, result in deportation for even documented immigrants like legal permanent residents of New York.</p> <p>On the other hand, a civil violation is heard by the MTA’s Transit Adjudication Bureau, not a criminal court, and cannot result in jail time or deportation.</p> <p>As Mayor de Blasio’s broken windows policing continues in this city, it is clear who is being targeted -- 92% of the arrests for fare evasion in 2015 were people of color. Oftentimes, too, if an individual cannot immediately produce an ID, the NYPD will choose to make an arrest, instead of issuing a civil violation.</p> <p>All told the risk of arrest for immigrant New Yorkers for fare evasion is all too real. And for undocumented immigrants, any interaction with the criminal justice system, even for a minor offense like fare evasion, can result in deportation.</p> <p>With the stakes so high for so many in our city, it is up to the mayor to determine if he is going to use his authority to protect people, or silently feed into Trump’s deportation machine. Talking about standing up to Donald Trump is one thing, but actually taking action is far more important.</p> <p>New Yorkers are counting on the mayor to do what’s right and take a real, actionable stand for our values against Trump.</p> <p>***<br />City Council Member Rory Lancman represents parts of Queens and chairs the Council's Committee on Courts and Legal Services. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/RoryLancman" target="_blank">@RoryLancman</a>.</p> <p>

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<p>&nbsp;<img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/rory-lancman-presser-city-hall.jpg" alt="rory lancman presser city hall" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>City Council Member Rory Lancman, the author (photo: @RoryLancman)</p> <hr /> <p>We’re now more than 30 days into Donald Trump’s presidency, and it is already crystal clear that the hostile and offensive rhetoric he used toward immigrants on the campaign trail will be put into practice by his administration.</p> <p>It was just this week that Trump’s Department of Homeland Security issued <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/21/us/politics/dhs-immigration-trump.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">new rules</a> that make clear Trump’s plan to deport millions of immigrants from our country, while tearing apart families and communities in the process.</p> <p>With thousands, if not tens of thousands, of immigrant New Yorkers now at risk of deportation, it is urgent that Mayor Bill de Blasio take real action to protect immigrant New Yorkers from possible deportation under Trump.</p> <p>The mayor has had no problem in recent weeks talking about opposing Trump and his policies, but when it comes down to it, talk is cheap. Real leadership requires bold action, and immigrant New Yorkers deserve action.</p> <p>But, here is the reality facing New York City today: Mayor de Blasio’s broken windows policing will now be the fuel for Donald Trump’s deportation machine.</p> <p>Without important and necessary action from the mayor, New Yorkers who are arrested for minor, nonviolent offenses could now be subject to deportation. That is inhumane and completely contrary to our values.</p> <p>Mayor de Blasio has the authority to take action immediately to protect immigrant New Yorkers -- without having to wait for the City Council, the State Legislature, or Congress. On his own, the mayor can direct the NYPD to stop arresting people, including immigrant New Yorkers, for low-level, nonviolent, quality-of-life crimes where a civil alternative is already readily available.</p> <p>Take fare evasion, for example. In 2015, more than 100,000 New Yorkers were stopped by the NYPD for fare evasion. Nearly 30,000 New Yorkers were arrested for “theft of services,” a misdemeanor under the state penal law. The remaining individuals were issued a civil summons for violating the MTA rule against fare evasion, which is not subject to any kind of criminal sanction.</p> <p>The difference between an arrest and a civil violation for fare evasion is monumental. A conviction for fare evasion could result in jail time, appear on an individual’s criminal record, and staggeringly enough, result in deportation for even documented immigrants like legal permanent residents of New York.</p> <p>On the other hand, a civil violation is heard by the MTA’s Transit Adjudication Bureau, not a criminal court, and cannot result in jail time or deportation.</p> <p>As Mayor de Blasio’s broken windows policing continues in this city, it is clear who is being targeted -- 92% of the arrests for fare evasion in 2015 were people of color. Oftentimes, too, if an individual cannot immediately produce an ID, the NYPD will choose to make an arrest, instead of issuing a civil violation.</p> <p>All told the risk of arrest for immigrant New Yorkers for fare evasion is all too real. And for undocumented immigrants, any interaction with the criminal justice system, even for a minor offense like fare evasion, can result in deportation.</p> <p>With the stakes so high for so many in our city, it is up to the mayor to determine if he is going to use his authority to protect people, or silently feed into Trump’s deportation machine. Talking about standing up to Donald Trump is one thing, but actually taking action is far more important.</p> <p>New Yorkers are counting on the mayor to do what’s right and take a real, actionable stand for our values against Trump.</p> <p>***<br />City Council Member Rory Lancman represents parts of Queens and chairs the Council's Committee on Courts and Legal Services. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/RoryLancman" target="_blank">@RoryLancman</a>.</p> <p>

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Change of Commissioner Spotlights De Blasio’s Record on Police Reform 2016-08-04T04:00:00+00:00 2016-08-04T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6467:change-of-commissioner-spotlights-de-blasio-s-record-on-police-reform Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/28767436295_62ca4e4d61_z.jpg" width="600" height="401" alt="de blasio nypd tucker bratton oneil et al" /></p> <p dir="ltr">photo:&nbsp;Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Many believe that the biggest responsibility of the Mayor of New York City is to keep people safe and Bill de Blasio has largely done that, in no small part by letting his lightning-rod police commissioner, Bill Bratton, call the shots on public safety policy. The mayor has focused on pre-kindergarten and affordable housing while Bratton has governed the streets, helping bring crime down to historic lows. At the same time, Bratton has led an evolution of sorts in how his force polices the city, adjusting practices toward the fairer, more equal city de Blasio promised.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think any of us could have predicted this much reduction in crime and this much improvement in relationship between police and community simultaneously,&rdquo; de Blasio said in a recent <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/de-blasio-dnc-future-democratic-party/">WNYC radio interview</a>, succinctly making his case and indicating the tough balancing act on safety and reform that he and Bratton have been attempting.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Thursday, de Blasio and NYPD officials announced that through July, there have been the fewest number of felony crimes, including murders and shootings, and the fewest number of overall arrests, in 20 years.</p> <p dir="ltr">For some, though, the pace and quality of change has not been nearly enough, and not what critics say de Blasio promised as a candidate for Mayor, when he pledged to &ldquo;end the stop-and-frisk era,&rdquo; as his son Dante famously said in a prominent TV ad, and ensure that policing is fair and constitutional in all neighborhoods.</p> <p dir="ltr">Some point to his decision to hire Bratton, the architect of Broken Windows policing, as a long-ago sign the mayor was not serious about what they call real NYPD reform. On the other side of the ledger, some who saw crime in New York City drop precipitously over the past two decades have sounded the alarm over the reforms that have been instituted under de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Bratton in the commissioner&rsquo;s second stint as the city&rsquo;s top cop after a &lsquo;90s run.</p> <p dir="ltr">Throughout his term, de Blasio has been hit from the right and the left over police reform, or the lack thereof. To the right, de Blasio has had strong crime data and Bratton himself, an idol to many more moderate and conservative New Yorkers, to help bat back criticism or warnings of a return of &ldquo;the bad old days.&rdquo; To the left, de Blasio has pointed to policy changes and a different set of data, with the mayor and the police commissioner attempting to sell the &ldquo;evolution&rdquo; of &ldquo;proactive policing,&rdquo; even citing a &ldquo;peace dividend&rdquo; of reduced &ldquo;negative interactions.&rdquo; The number of arrests for lower-level crimes has dropped by the tens of thousands.</p> <p dir="ltr">As de Blasio faces re-election next year, he&rsquo;ll be judged on both how safe the city is and his record as a policing reformer. He and his allies call results in both areas outstanding, while some critics say he&rsquo;s playing with fire on reform and others say he&rsquo;s barely tinkered. De Blasio is likely to run in 2017 as both a crime-stopping mayor and a police reformer.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday, a major curveball was thrown into the mix. The legendary, polarizing commissioner <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6465-bratton-announces-retirement-from-nypd-to-be-replaced-by-o-neill">announced that he will retire</a> next month. At a City Hall press conference, de Blasio heaped praise on Bratton while announcing that he will be replaced by Chief of Department James O&rsquo;Neill, a veteran officer and &ldquo;architect&rdquo; of the NYPD&rsquo;s new neighborhood policing program.</p> <p dir="ltr">O&rsquo;Neill, like de Blasio, is a Broken Windows policing disciple - both true believers in Bratton&rsquo;s brand of tough, rigid enforcement of low-level offenses in order to prevent more serious crimes that is the controversial fulcrum of the debate over policing in New York. All three - de Blasio, Bratton, and O&rsquo;Neill - see Broken Windows as evolving and say that the NYPD is changing for the better all the time.</p> <p dir="ltr">Whether de Blasio is the policing reformer he claims to be is a key piece of the discussion as O&rsquo;Neill begins his tenure in September and will be a source of debate through next November&rsquo;s Election Day.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>De Blasio&rsquo;s Case for Reform</strong><br />&ldquo;[C]hanges in the police department now are rapid and extraordinary,&rdquo; de Blasio said at a recent press conference. He was speaking in defense of an agreement between the City Council and his administration, namely the NYPD, to institute changes to the department&rsquo;s patrol guide instead of passing police reform legislation with broad support. Many City Council members and police reform advocates blasted the compromise, calling into question de Blasio&rsquo;s commitment to changing the NYPD and putting de Blasio and Mark-Viverito on the defensive.</p> <p dir="ltr">The mayor took the opportunity to downplay the criticism and make his case as a reformer: &ldquo;The retraining of all the officers, the neighborhood policing program, the de-escalation techniques that are being taught, the implicit bias training &ndash; all of this is happening at once,&rdquo; de Blasio said. &ldquo;And because of the [City] Council now, there&rsquo;s going to be a whole new way to approach a number of these situations,&rdquo; he added, referring to changes being brought about with respect to police stops of civilians and communication during those encounters.</p> <p dir="ltr">Alongside the aforementioned numbers of shootings and murders, de Blasio has several other data points to make his reform case: all 34,000 police officers are being trained in de-escalation tactics and will be taught to recognize implicit biases; between 2013 and 2015, marijuana <a href="http://www.justice-data.nyc/historical-trends/">arrests fell</a> from 28,649 to 16,030 and criminal summonses decreased from 424,850 to 297,413; stop-and-frisk incidents dropped from 191,558 to just 22,939; complaints made to the Civilian Complaint Review Board that evaluates allegations of officer misconduct also <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ccrb/downloads/pdf/monthlystats_201607.pdf">decreased</a> from 5,388 new complaints in 2013 to 4,460 in 2015 (and there have been 2,347 complaints in 2016 through June).</p> <p dir="ltr">Arrests for the most serious crimes, felonies like shootings and murders, are up, while arrests for lower-level crimes are down by tens of thousands. At the Thursday press conference to discuss crime numbers for 2016 through July, NYPD officials explained that they continue to heighten their use of precision policing to avoid unnecessary arrests and Bratton reiterated that notion of the &ldquo;peace dividend,&rdquo; whereby for minor offenses officers are relying on arrests as a last resort. They ask people to move along from a stoop or corner, encourage them to not to sleep across several seats on the subway, and so on.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Not Enough to Critics</strong><br />To some City Council members, police reform advocates, and community groups, the mayor&rsquo;s words ring hollow. Many who focus on the NYPD and have long-called for changes to what they say are discriminatory practices are in agreement that this mayor, who has universally stood behind Bratton and Broken Windows policing, has not lived up to his 2013 platform of police reform. De Blasio, critics say, ceded public safety policy to Bratton, who over-polices communities of color, and that the mayor is a hypocritical politician who would rather appease and compromise than implement wholesale, meaningful reform of the police department.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton says his officers go where the crime is and cites the number of 911 and 311 calls that come from communities of color, including many public housing complexes. Reformers say that behaviors that have been virtually decriminalized in predominantly white communities, like riding a bike on the sidewalk, are still being heavily policed in communities of color.</p> <p dir="ltr">For advocates across many organizations, such as Communities United for Police Reform and the Police Reform Organizing Project, and other reformers, including some elected officials, meaningful reform is not only fair enforcement in all communities and decriminalization of most low-level non-violent behaviors, but increased accountability for officers who abuse their powers. Systemic change is needed, they say, to pull policing policy out of the vicissitudes of institutional racism, protecting people&rsquo;s rights in interactions with police and holding the NYPD to a higher standard.</p> <p dir="ltr">There are calls for defunding the NYPD in order to better fund community outreach and social workers, social services, and education and employment opportunities. De Blasio has significantly increased the NYPD budget, including by adding 1,300 new officers to the force, but he has also devoted millions toward homeless outreach, mental health care, and other services to move away from arrests in many typical street encounters.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio&rsquo;s focus has been on training over punishment for officers, wherein he has said that with better-trained officers, there will be far fewer bad actors to hold accountable. He acknowledges that a history of structural racism plagued the NYPD and insists that his administration has taken steps to combat it. &ldquo;I am looking for the tangible, specific things that we can do to make things better,&rdquo; he said in a <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/askthemayor-policing-your-neighborhood">Thursday appearance</a> on WNYC&rsquo;s The Brian Lehrer Show, citing new methods of training and recruitment and giving police officers &ldquo;a different model of policing to overcome some of the history.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">At a recent press conference, de Blasio his focus on &ldquo;how you build a different kind of policing &ndash; different relationship between police and community paradigm shift, culture change.&rdquo; He said that &ldquo;other folks are focused more on accountability&rdquo; and that &ldquo;the accountability discussion is real and it&rsquo;s not only important substantively, it obviously comes with tremendous emotional meaning because there has been so much pain.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Both have to happen and both have to give the public confidence in the rule of law,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But the one that will have by far the greater impact is the former, not the latter.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Many outside the administration say he should indeed focus on both training and punishment. The City Council recently passed and de Blasio&rsquo;s signed into law new NYPD use-of-force reporting guidelines. Still, NYPD watchdogs and critics say that officers are not disciplined for bad behavior as often as or to the extent necessary. Complaints to the Civilian Complaint Review Board about officer misconduct are indeed down under de Blasio and Bratton despite a time of heightened awareness about police misconduct.</p> <p dir="ltr">There are those, including Bratton, who believe that the NYPD is better off without interference from outside quarters and that the City Council regularly oversteps its jurisdiction. At a <a href="http://nypdnews.com/2015/11/police-commissioner-bratton-addresses-citizens-budget-commission/">Nov. 17 Citizens Budget Commission breakfast briefing</a>, Bratton said, &ldquo;The City Council...depending on the day of the week, is supportive and helpful or obstructive and destructive.&rdquo; Referring to a number of reform bills that were under consideration by the Council at the time, Bratton said a majority of them were &ldquo;unnecessary, intrusive and self-serving on the part of particular members of the Council.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Pushback from the commissioner has slowed some reform efforts and watered down others.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton insists it is better to find common ground on policy changes rather than pass more laws, while Council members bristle at the pushback against their legislative and oversight responsibilities and the power the commissioner wields within the de Blasio administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">The mayor has made the argument that the new policies that he and Bratton are implementing will create a culture change in the city&rsquo;s police department and a seismic shift in police-community relations. He has also stressed a strong collaborative effort with the City Council, which has made a significant push for criminal justice and police reform under Mark-Viverito. Even those moves, which include shifting a good deal of low-level non-violent law enforcement from the criminal to civil justice system, are often called insufficient by people who want to see an entirely new policing paradigm in New York. Still, even those reformers almost always acknowledge some progress in the moves being made.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the mayor heads into his 2017 re-election campaign, he has some opportunity to redefine policing under incoming Commissioner O&rsquo;Neill and bridge the gap in trust between police and community members that de Blasio, O&rsquo;Neill, and Bratton all acknowledge continues to exist, though they say they are making strides already. At the center of this is the neighborhood policing initiative that Bratton championed, de Blasio agreed to, and O&rsquo;Neill has been implementing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Just after announcing that Bratton would be retiring and O&rsquo;Neill promoted, de Blasio and the two announced that the neighborhood policing program is expanding further. With 12 more precincts beginning implementation in October, the program will cover a total of 51 percent of citywide commands and 100 percent of housing commands.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Hiring Bratton and Broken Windows</strong><br />When de Blasio ran for mayor, he was Public Advocate, the elected citywide official tasked with speaking on behalf of New Yorkers who government is not properly serving. He forcefully criticized the NYPD and its over-reliance on the practice of stop-question-and-frisk, which earned him significant goodwill with communities of color and activists who saw an opportunity for change.</p> <p dir="ltr">The way the NYPD was practicing stop-and-frisk was deemed unconstitutional <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/12/stop-and-frisk-landmark-ruling">in a federal lawsuit</a> in August 2013. In part, de Blasio rode a wave of displeasure with the NYPD under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to victory in the 2013 Democratic primary, then general election for Mayor.</p> <p dir="ltr">But much of the goodwill de Blasio cultivated began to wither when he hired Bratton to be commissioner of the police department.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t understand how the mayor&rsquo;s primary agenda was to end stop-and-frisk and then he hires the architect of stop-and-frisk,&rdquo; said Dr. Christina Greer, political science professor at Fordham University. For some, Bratton&rsquo;s appointment was a key indicator that de Blasio wasn&rsquo;t going to flip the script on policing, but would instead write a new chapter in a mostly congruent story.</p> <p dir="ltr">While stop-and-frisks began to drop dramatically under Bloomberg given the federal case and heightened scrutiny, a significant reduction has indeed continued under de Blasio. The <a href="http://www.nyclu.org/content/stop-and-frisk-data">number</a> of stops fell from a high of 684,330 in 2011 to 191,558 in 2013, to just 22,939 in 2015. The easing of the practice was seen as a necessary way to let air out of the ballooning tensions between the NYPD and communities of color.</p> <p dir="ltr">Importantly, de Blasio moved to drop the appeal to the stop-and-frisk lawsuit and implement the reforms ordered by the judge, including <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/nypd-wrapping-up-body-camera-pilot-program-1456916402">instituting</a> a police body camera program. The Department of Investigation also appointed an independent Inspector General for the NYPD in March 2014, mandated by a City Council bill that passed over a Bloomberg veto the previous year. In September 2015, the NYPD also <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/nypd-debuts-stop-and-frisk-receipts-new-rules-cops-article-1.2374455">introduced</a> official receipts for stops that don&rsquo;t result in arrests.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The NYPD has been reformed as an institution in a lot of good ways,&rdquo; said Eugene O&rsquo;Donnell, a former NYPD officer, now a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. &ldquo;Notably the easing up of quota-driven policing, and the level of enforcement for enforcement&rsquo;s sake has been curtailed.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">But even now, those stopped-and-frisked are still overwhelmingly people of color, disproportionate to their numbers in the city population. &ldquo;Even though stop-and-frisks are down, they haven&rsquo;t gone away,&rdquo; said Greer. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s better but that doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s good or great.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">A February 2016 report by a federal monitor, appointed by the judge in her ruling, found that many police officers remained ignorant of the new stop-and-frisk reforms and <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/stop-and-frisk-continues-cops-don-reforms-article-1.2533429">continued</a> to engage in unconstitutional stops.</p> <p dir="ltr">Criticism of policing in the city goes well beyond the practice of stop-and-frisk, stretching to the overarching policy of Broken Windows. It is a controversial approach proudly pioneered by Bratton, who previously served as the city&rsquo;s top cop under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani from 1994 to 1996 and was credited with drastically reducing crime across the city.</p> <p dir="ltr">Both de Blasio and Bratton regularly stress the evolving nature of Broken Windows, pointing to the current &ldquo;peace dividend&rdquo; that yields far fewer arrests and negative interactions between police and civilians, fostering greater trust with communities. When a <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/oignypd/downloads/pdf/Quality-of-Life-Report-2010-2015.pdf">recent report</a> by the NYPD Inspector General found no direct correlation between increased quality-of-life enforcement and reduced felony crime, many interpreted it as an indictment of Broken Windows even though the report categorically stated otherwise. Bratton aggressively criticized the report and the mayor largely agreed, though in much more delicate terms.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Quality-of-life enforcement, or Broken Windows as it&rsquo;s sometimes referred to, is an essential component of policing,&rdquo; Bratton said at a <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/556-16/transcript-mayor-de-blasio-police-commissioner-bratton-nyc-pride-march-public-safety">June 23</a> news conference where he addressed the report&rsquo;s findings. &ldquo;Its essentiality, however, is dependent on how it is implemented. And the mayor and I have made a great deal of effort over these two-and-a-half years to modify it to reflect the changed city.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">As he has done before, Bratton drew a doctor-patient analogy of the NYPD&rsquo;s role in the city, saying that the &ldquo;patient&rdquo; is not as sick as before and that allows him to use &ldquo;less threatening medicines&rdquo; to treat the problem.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a July 26 <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/de-blasio-dnc-future-democratic-party/">interview with WNYC</a> on the sidelines of the Democratic National Convention, de Blasio confirmed that he would continue Broken Windows policing even after Bratton&rsquo;s tenure, while indicating that it must continue to evolve. &ldquo;There is no room in that strategy for disparate treatment of communities,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;There is no room in that strategy, from my point of view, to leave it stale. It has to be constantly updated in terms of the training of our officers.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Citing the one million fewer encounters between the police and the community, de Blasio indicated that there was a disconnect between public perception and actual results. &ldquo;I think a lot of the critique is being answered on the ground by real work, but I think the public debate hasn&rsquo;t caught up with that fully,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s not a convincing enough argument for proponents of reform, such as Bob Gangi, director of the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP), who criticized the mayor for hiring &ldquo;the author of Broken Windows,&rdquo; a system that Gangi sees as encouraging &ldquo;quota driven&rdquo; policing. He said the mayor has only made superficial changes to the NYPD instead of substantive reform that recognizes institutional, racially biased police practices.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Broken Windows was introduced by Bratton in 1994,&rdquo; Gangi said. &ldquo;It continued under a different philosophical framework under Giuliani and Bloomberg, and de Blasio and Bratton have kept their foot on the pedal. It targets mostly people of color for minor infractions that have basically been decriminalized in wealthy communities.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Kowtowing to the Commissioner</strong><br />Perhaps the biggest critique of the mayor has been the extent to which he allowed Bratton to drive policing policy, his unwavering loyalty to Bratton, and his willingness to stand behind the commissioner even in controversy.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There is no question that the mayor has ceded public safety policy to the police commissioner to an unprecedented degree,&rdquo; said City Council Member Rory Lancman, another member of the public safety committee and a frequent critic of the mayor, &ldquo;and it is unhealthy and it is inconsistent with the agenda that the mayor promised to New Yorkers he was going to deliver on when he ran.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Even if de Blasio claims that Bratton&rsquo;s policies fall squarely within his own mayoral vision for the police department, their incongruent views at times betrayed differing approaches. The mayor has often been placed in the awkward position of trying to explain the disconnect between Bratton&rsquo;s rhetoric and his own words. For instance, when Bratton referred to rap artists as &ldquo;basically thugs&rdquo; following a fatal shooting at a hip hop concert in the city; the time he said women need to use the buddy system to avoid rape; or when he <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2014/12/bratton-killings-were-spin-off-of-demonstrations-018393">suggested</a> that the killings of two police officers in Dec. 2014 were a &ldquo;direct spin-off&rdquo; of protests against police-involved deaths of unarmed black men. Bratton practically <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/07/bratton-protesters-focus-on-nypd-is-bigotry.html">doubled down</a> on the last claim recently, following the assassination of five police officers by a lone gunman in Dallas, Texas, by characterizing the Black Lives Matter movement as practicing a &ldquo;different kind of bigotry&rdquo; which portrayed all police officers as racist.</p> <p dir="ltr">At each occasion, de Blasio demurred or gave slight clarifying comments through his own view, while being careful not to criticize Bratton. The mayor often pushes back again against critics, time and again saying that Bratton is a reformer who has overseen significant changes in policing, including the new de-escalation training for officers and <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/nypd-stop-arrests-low-level-marijuana-charges-source-article-1.2005222">stopping</a> arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr. Greer said Bratton has been the mayor&rsquo;s &ldquo;Achilles Heel.&rdquo; &ldquo;I think as long as we have someone like Bratton in charge, [the NYPD] can only be reformed so much,&rdquo; she said in an interview just before the announcement of Bratton&rsquo;s departure. &ldquo;This is someone who&rsquo;s consistently used racialized and what I might argue is incendiary language referring to blacks and Latinos in New York City. The most high-ranking NYPD official has his own preconceived notions of particular racial groups.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/bdb_bratton_oneill_tucker_nypd.jpg" alt="bdb bratton oneill tucker nypd" width="300" height="200" style="margin: 5px; float: left;" />With O&rsquo;Neill, Greer said in a follow-up interview that there may be an opportunity, both for the mayor and the new commissioner, to start fresh. &ldquo;[O&rsquo;Neill] is not coming in with the same baggage as Bratton did,&rdquo; said Greer. She said Bratton&rsquo;s departure was not necessarily a &ldquo;negative break&rdquo; and that O&rsquo;Neill should make efforts to establish a positive tone at the start of his tenure. &ldquo;He doesn&rsquo;t want to come in and just be Bratton 2.0,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He has to think critically of what he wants to do in relation to the mayor, the City Council and the community, and what he wants to say and how he wants to say it.&rdquo; She also said that the mayor now had a chance assert himself instead of deferring to his commissioner.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Lancman agrees with that sentiment. He has in the past criticized the pattern of diverging messages from the mayor and Bratton, particularly in light of their recent comments on Black Lives Matter. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m beginning to wonder,&rdquo; he said a few weeks before Bratton&rsquo;s resignation, &ldquo;whether it&rsquo;s just some kind of cynical good cop-bad cop, pardon the metaphor, where the mayor is trying to please both sides of New York by the commissioner taking a more right-leaning view of things and the mayor taking a more left-leaning view of things. But it&rsquo;s unacceptable. It should be one administration. And the mayor promised policies that are not being effectuated and it is in large part because he seems to not have control over his own police department.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">In the wake of Bratton&rsquo;s announcement on Tuesday, Lancman told Gotham Gazette the city has an opportunity to talk about real police reform, which Bratton often stifled despite his many accomplishments.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Chief O&rsquo;Neill now has to establish his own identity and vision and whether or not he is willing to confront issues of over-policing and unequal policing in communities of color,&rdquo; Lancman said. &ldquo;And the mayor has to now take ownership of public safety policy in a way that he hasn&rsquo;t in the last two-and-a-half years.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Lancman also sees a particular opportunity for the City Council to push forward an agenda of police reform, including passing the Right to Know Act and his bill making chokeholds illegal, &ldquo;which were blocked by Commissioner Bratton&rsquo;s obstinate refusal to engage in meaningful dialogue on these issues.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>New Contract with the Community</strong><br />In June 2015, de Blasio and Bratton <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/440-15/mayor-de-blasio-commissioner-bratton-new-groundbreaking-neighborhood-policing-vision#/0">unveiled</a> a new vision for the police department, &ldquo;<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/home/poa.shtml">One City: Safe and Fair - Everywhere</a>. The plan focused heavily on a model of neighborhood policing, interchangeably called community policing, that would create better relationships while also helping to reduce crime.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This is a modern, advanced, sophisticated approach to neighborhood policing,&rdquo; said de Blasio, at the announcement. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s going to mean the cop on the beat knows community leaders, knows the clergy, knows the rhythms of the community, the needs of the community, where the problems are. And the community is going to know that officer. And they&rsquo;re each going to feel a tremendous sense of connection and that they&rsquo;re in it together.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">The plan involved putting more officers on the street, and on the force, made possible by the hiring of 1,300 new police officers at the behest of the City Council. Council Member Jumaane Williams, an outspoken proponent of police reform who sits on the Council&rsquo;s Committee on Public Safety, agrees with the model and said he&rsquo;s seen &ldquo;tangible positive changes&rdquo; in the department. But he said the city has yet to address the issue of accountability for erring police officers.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I am happy that at least this administration is talking to us in a way that didn&rsquo;t happen before,&rdquo; &nbsp;he told Gotham Gazette at a recent Council hearing. &ldquo;That in itself is a plus. But there&rsquo;s still this notion that any discussion around police reform means you&rsquo;re anti-police, means you want to somehow handcuff the police and make communities less safe. The people who represent these communities and put these reforms forward are not stupid, they&rsquo;re not devoid of the pain that&rsquo;s going on. But I think we&rsquo;re viewed as people who don&rsquo;t understand the violence that&rsquo;s going on there.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">The need for increased accountability is one that others have also expressed. &ldquo;I support community policing, but to do it cosmetically and still be unaccountable, that&rsquo;s not changing anything,&rdquo; said William Burnett, a board member of Picture the Homeless (PTH), an advocacy organization. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s just changing appearances, changing optics.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Burnett believes de Blasio isn&rsquo;t the reformer he first appeared to be. &ldquo;I think rhetorically he&rsquo;s a reformer, but in terms of substantive action, the administration is blocking reform,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Rhetoric doesn&rsquo;t have any meaningful impact on people&rsquo;s lives.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">While he praised the mayor for dedicating substantial resources to dealing with mentally ill people, particularly among the city&rsquo;s homeless population, Burnett is wary of creating any additional justification for police interactions with homeless people on the streets. He said such interactions have drastically increased and &ldquo;it has gotten worse.&rdquo; On May 26, Picture the Homeless and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the New York City Human Rights Commission alleging that the NYPD had violated the Community Safety Act, which forbids bias-based profiling, by profiling people based on their housing status.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr. Greer, of Fordham, said one of de Blasio&rsquo;s biggest accomplishments is his ability to compromise, and the community policing model was a product of that but also a &ldquo;missed opportunity.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Couldn&rsquo;t we build community relationships without people carrying weapons walking the neighborhood?&rdquo; she wondered. &ldquo;And in communities that feel hyper-surveilled already.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Resisting the City Council</strong><br />City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has made criminal justice reform a top priority. Council members have proposed wide-ranging legislation to introduce more transparency, scrutiny, and accountability of the police department while also reforming the punitive side of the criminal justice system.</p> <p dir="ltr">It was the City Council that pushed the mayor and commissioner to add 1,300 new police officers to the force, enabling them to put into effect the new neighborhood policing program. The Council <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/city-approves-police-reform-bills-rules-force-article-1.2711991">recently passed</a> three bills requiring quarterly reports on use-of-force by officers across the city, which members say will be important transparency tools that aid in oversight and accountability. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6381-city-council-to-hear-one-of-two-police-accountability-bills">Two other bills</a>, which would create an early warning system for overly aggressive police officers, have yet to pass.</p> <p dir="ltr">Perhaps the most significant criminal justice victory for the Council was a package of bills, named the Criminal Justice Reform Act, which provides for the prosecution of low-level offenses in civil court, in effect preventing thousands of people from getting a criminal record each year and virtually decriminalizing behaviors like having an open container of alcohol that have led to many thousands of criminal summonses and outstanding arrest warrants. The NYPD will, however, retain discretion in applying civil or criminal enforcement in those cases, which was a result of pushback from Bratton.</p> <p dir="ltr">As evidenced by the use-of-force warning system bills, the chokehold bill, the CJRA, and more, de Blasio and Bratton have either stalled or diluted legislation that would create increased oversight of the police department or change law enforcement practices.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The commissioner has declared dead on arrival every police reform bill that the Council has in its hoppers,&rdquo; said Lancman, &ldquo;and the mayor is seemingly giving the commissioner a veto on administration policy as it relates to working with the City Council on police reform.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Even reforms that have been achieved, like the CJRA, Lancman said, owed to the Council &ldquo;dragging and forcing&rdquo; the mayor and commissioner to a point of agreement. (Lancman also criticized the mayor&rsquo;s opposition to his chokehold bill, which would make the practice illegal except in life-threatening situations. The administration instead chose to adopt the bill&rsquo;s definition of chokeholds but in effect <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/30/nyregion/police-department-to-redefine-chokehold-to-match-city-council-bill.html">rolled back</a> an existing departmental restriction on the practice, Lancman says, by making it easier for officers to justify their use.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Chaim Deutsch, who has been among a minority of Council members to oppose many of the criminal justice reforms passed through the Council, including the CJRA and the recently passed use-of-force reporting bills, said he was nevertheless discouraged that members of the public safety committee have rarely had a chance to meet with the commissioner to engage in constructive dialogue on police reform.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think the mayor&rsquo;s trying very hard to reform and I think a lot of it should be done through collaboration with the members of the City Council and the police commissioner and the community without forcing any type of legislation,&rdquo; Deutsch told Gotham Gazette. He said, though, that he has repeatedly asked for a one-on-one meeting with Commissioner Bratton to no avail.</p> <p dir="ltr">John Jay&rsquo;s O&rsquo;Donnell also decried the Council&rsquo;s multiple attempts to push legislation, which he sees as counterproductive to police performance and ultimately recruitment of talented officers. &ldquo;The sum total of all the people critiquing, second guessing, and demonizing the cops is going to absolutely depress the interests of the best people in going into the department,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Vanessa Gibson, chair of the public safety committee, believes the process has been more collaborative between the Council and NYPD. &ldquo;I think sometimes what a lot of New Yorkers don&rsquo;t always understand is that they&rsquo;re our partners,&rdquo; she told reporters at a recent hearing. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t always agree, but I will say that under this administration, under the leadership of our speaker, we&rsquo;ve had an incredible amount of cooperation.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">In the wake of the Bratton and O&rsquo;Neill announcement, though, Gibson did say that she is looking forward to the shift because she knows O&rsquo;Neill well and believes that he better understands the Council&rsquo;s legislative role.</p> <p dir="ltr">The intricacies of the dynamics among the City Council, the mayor and Bratton&rsquo;s police department were on display around the Right to Know Act, and the agreement between Bratton and Mark-Viverito that would table a vote on the legislation in exchange for changes to the NYPD patrol guide. The details of this ongoing saga are instructive of the larger question around de Blasio as a police reformer.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Right to Know Act is aimed directly at the type of issues de Blasio promised to address as a candidate: street stops of civilians by police and the relationships between the two groups. The bills would mandate police officers identify themselves by name, rank, and command when a street stop doesn&rsquo;t result in an arrest and to get consent from a person before searching them during a street stop without probable cause. Officers would also have to inform a person that they have the right to refuse in such instances.</p> <p dir="ltr">The bills go one step further toward ending unconstitutional stop-and-frisks and are reflective of guidelines put forth last year by President Obama&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/taskforce/TaskForce_FinalReport.pdf">Task Force on 21st Century Policing</a>. Bratton publicly derided the bills as another attempt by the Council to meddle in everyday NYPD function. De Blasio cautiously hedged. &ldquo;There will be a legislative process,&rdquo; he said at a Nov. 2014 news conference. &ldquo;In the past, I have raised concerns about that legislation because I want to make sure that we don&rsquo;t inadvertently undermine the ability of law enforcement to do its job. But there will be a legislative process, for sure.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">That legislative process was pre-empted by compromise and the promise of a revised patrol guide that lays out the rules for consent searches: officers will be retrained to obtain consent for the search of a person, home or vehicle and will be required to provide business cards to people after a search. The deal does not come with the weight of law and the speaker&rsquo;s decision was seen by many as a backroom deal that not only betrayed the public but also her own members, a majority of whom were in favor of the bills. Advocates directed their ire towards both the speaker and the mayor for undercutting a crucial measure of accountability.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The recent administration workaround to go around the Right to Know Act shows that [Mayor de Blasio is] committed to a cosmetic fix but not necessarily accountability at the root causes of issues with policing,&rdquo; said Anthonine Pierre, lead community organizer at the Brooklyn Movement Center, a member organization of Communities United for Police Reform, a coalition that includes dozens of community advocacy groups.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Bill de Blasio needs to work with the City Council to get stronger legislation and accountability, to actually make reform that affects people&rsquo;s lives, not just &ldquo;reforms&rdquo; that are politically advantageous to him,&rdquo; Pierre added.</p> <p dir="ltr">Yul-San Liem, co-director of Communities United for Police Reform&rsquo;s justice committee, said the mayor has been &ldquo;acting like a hypocrite&rdquo; when it comes to police reform. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve seen no meaningful police reform legislation that&rsquo;s been passed,&rdquo; she told Gotham Gazette, shortly after a rally on July 13 outside City Hall to call for a vote on the Right to Know Act. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve seen a bunch of statements from City Hall and from the NYPD saying that things are changed but for those of us that are working in communities that are directly impacted, we know that change is not happening on the ground.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The Police and the Mayor</strong><br />The irony in the debate is that while many reform advocates feel the mayor hasn&rsquo;t acted enough, there are those who feel he&rsquo;s overstepped.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Patrolmen&rsquo;s Benevolent Association (PBA), the union of rank-and-file police officers, has targeted him for not being supportive enough of the police force and for creating increasingly dangerous conditions for officers on the ground.</p> <p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s a view shared by Heather Mac Donald, the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. Mac Donald rejected the notion that the NYPD is in need of reform and said it is already under multiple levels of civilian oversight. &ldquo;[The NYPD] is regarded as a paragon across the world of professional, accountable policing,&rdquo; she said. She insisted that the mayor has &ldquo;made things a heck of a lot worse,&rdquo; and characterized his comments regarding a history of racism in policing as &ldquo;outrageous and ignorant.&rdquo; She also said the reduction in stop-and-frisk couldn&rsquo;t be attributed to his policies but were a result of media scrutiny and the federal ruling.</p> <p dir="ltr">The PBA has multiple problems with the mayor, including ongoing contract negotiations. De Blasio entered office with none of the municipal labor unions working under current contracts and his administration has reached deals with 98% of the workforce. The PBA has not agreed to the same deals the de Blasio administration reached with other uniformed unions, firefighters, sanitation workers, and corrections officers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Police union leadership and many officers were skeptical of de Blasio when he came into office due to his campaign rhetoric, which many saw as vilifying the police. De Blasio and his allies say the mayor was criticizing departmental policy as dictated by former Mayor Bloomberg and former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, not insulting the members of the department. Nevertheless, de Blasio was seen as more sympathetic to protesters than police after the death of Eric Garner, a black man killed in a chokehold by a white police officer in July 2014, and as offensive when he explained having to &ldquo;train&rdquo; his own biracial son to be especially careful in interactions with the police.</p> <p dir="ltr">When two NYPD officers were murdered in December 2014, not long after de Blasio made the comments about training his son when a grand jury had declined to indict the officer who put Garner in the chokehold, things reached their boiling point. NYPD members turned their backs on de Blasio at the hospital where Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were taken and at their funerals. The PBA president, Pat Lynch, said de Blasio had blood on his hands and officers engaged in what amounted to a (possibly illegal) work stoppage for several weeks.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton has perhaps been the glue holding things together. The outgoing commissioner has defended de Blasio at every turn even while admitting to low officer morale and a &ldquo;dislike&rdquo; for de Blasio among cops. In <a href="https://charlierose.com/videos/28545">a Thursday interview</a> with Charlie Rose, Bratton acknowledged the &ldquo;gulf that still exists between my mayor and my cops,&rdquo; and said it was a source of major frustration for him as he departs the administration.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>'Tomorrow is too late'</strong><br />&ldquo;Tomorrow is too late,&rdquo; said Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, at the July 13 Right to Know Act rally at City Hall, just a few days before the two-year anniversary of her son&rsquo;s death.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Garner case, perhaps more than other instances of police-involved deaths of people of color, is emblematic the problems people have with police accountability. The officer who placed Garner in the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo, was not indicted by a Staten Island grand jury and, two years on, is still the subject of a federal civil rights investigation. He has not been disciplined by the NYPD other than to modify his duty. Commissioner Bratton has said the department&rsquo;s internal investigation into Pantaleo&rsquo;s behavior is complete, but that the NYPD is waiting to release its findings and any accompanying consequences until the Justice Department has completed its process. Fingers have been pointed at de Blasio and Bratton for not taking more quick action in the case as well as others involving police use of force.</p> <p dir="ltr">Those who spoke at the Right to Know Act rally yelled in outrage, questioning whether they could trust the NYPD to implement provisions of the bills through its patrol guide, the same guide that has banned since 1993 the chokehold that killed Garner. &ldquo;The sense is that if the NYPD says they want to make internal changes in lieu of the City Council passing any laws, they&rsquo;re just trying to evade accountability,&rdquo; said Burnett, from Picture the Homeless, also a member of Communities United for Police Reform.</p> <p dir="ltr">Fordham University&rsquo;s Greer said the city needs to be &ldquo;much more swift and severe&rdquo; when it comes to bad actors in the force, and in training and recruiting officers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Deutsch said change needs to &ldquo;start from the top&rdquo; of the police department, through department-led change in policy instead of Council-led legislation. Council Member Gibson called it &ldquo;a big circle that has to work together&rdquo; on issues of accountability, practices, procedures, and technology.</p> <p dir="ltr">All agree that the city, the mayor, and the police department have a long way to go in bridging the trust deficit between police and communities. According to public opinion polls, de Blasio&rsquo;s support among African-Americans remains strong, though many calling for more assertive police reform are people of color. Backing during his re-election bid will in part come down to who the mayor is facing and what their police reform platform entails.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio and his allies say they are well on their way to making real, lasting police reform progress. Faced with a series of questions over the past two-plus years, de Blasio has repeatedly outlined the steps his administration is taking and said he understands that advocates always want more.</p> <p dir="ltr">This is true. And strident police reformers are largely disillusioned with the mayor.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When the city elected de Blasio, a lot of reformers were encouraged given his progressive bonafides and the campaign that he ran,&rdquo; said PROP director Gangi. &ldquo;To say that he&rsquo;s fallen short is a kind characterization.&rdquo;</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/28767436295_62ca4e4d61_z.jpg" width="600" height="401" alt="de blasio nypd tucker bratton oneil et al" /></p> <p dir="ltr">photo:&nbsp;Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Many believe that the biggest responsibility of the Mayor of New York City is to keep people safe and Bill de Blasio has largely done that, in no small part by letting his lightning-rod police commissioner, Bill Bratton, call the shots on public safety policy. The mayor has focused on pre-kindergarten and affordable housing while Bratton has governed the streets, helping bring crime down to historic lows. At the same time, Bratton has led an evolution of sorts in how his force polices the city, adjusting practices toward the fairer, more equal city de Blasio promised.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think any of us could have predicted this much reduction in crime and this much improvement in relationship between police and community simultaneously,&rdquo; de Blasio said in a recent <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/de-blasio-dnc-future-democratic-party/">WNYC radio interview</a>, succinctly making his case and indicating the tough balancing act on safety and reform that he and Bratton have been attempting.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Thursday, de Blasio and NYPD officials announced that through July, there have been the fewest number of felony crimes, including murders and shootings, and the fewest number of overall arrests, in 20 years.</p> <p dir="ltr">For some, though, the pace and quality of change has not been nearly enough, and not what critics say de Blasio promised as a candidate for Mayor, when he pledged to &ldquo;end the stop-and-frisk era,&rdquo; as his son Dante famously said in a prominent TV ad, and ensure that policing is fair and constitutional in all neighborhoods.</p> <p dir="ltr">Some point to his decision to hire Bratton, the architect of Broken Windows policing, as a long-ago sign the mayor was not serious about what they call real NYPD reform. On the other side of the ledger, some who saw crime in New York City drop precipitously over the past two decades have sounded the alarm over the reforms that have been instituted under de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Bratton in the commissioner&rsquo;s second stint as the city&rsquo;s top cop after a &lsquo;90s run.</p> <p dir="ltr">Throughout his term, de Blasio has been hit from the right and the left over police reform, or the lack thereof. To the right, de Blasio has had strong crime data and Bratton himself, an idol to many more moderate and conservative New Yorkers, to help bat back criticism or warnings of a return of &ldquo;the bad old days.&rdquo; To the left, de Blasio has pointed to policy changes and a different set of data, with the mayor and the police commissioner attempting to sell the &ldquo;evolution&rdquo; of &ldquo;proactive policing,&rdquo; even citing a &ldquo;peace dividend&rdquo; of reduced &ldquo;negative interactions.&rdquo; The number of arrests for lower-level crimes has dropped by the tens of thousands.</p> <p dir="ltr">As de Blasio faces re-election next year, he&rsquo;ll be judged on both how safe the city is and his record as a policing reformer. He and his allies call results in both areas outstanding, while some critics say he&rsquo;s playing with fire on reform and others say he&rsquo;s barely tinkered. De Blasio is likely to run in 2017 as both a crime-stopping mayor and a police reformer.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday, a major curveball was thrown into the mix. The legendary, polarizing commissioner <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6465-bratton-announces-retirement-from-nypd-to-be-replaced-by-o-neill">announced that he will retire</a> next month. At a City Hall press conference, de Blasio heaped praise on Bratton while announcing that he will be replaced by Chief of Department James O&rsquo;Neill, a veteran officer and &ldquo;architect&rdquo; of the NYPD&rsquo;s new neighborhood policing program.</p> <p dir="ltr">O&rsquo;Neill, like de Blasio, is a Broken Windows policing disciple - both true believers in Bratton&rsquo;s brand of tough, rigid enforcement of low-level offenses in order to prevent more serious crimes that is the controversial fulcrum of the debate over policing in New York. All three - de Blasio, Bratton, and O&rsquo;Neill - see Broken Windows as evolving and say that the NYPD is changing for the better all the time.</p> <p dir="ltr">Whether de Blasio is the policing reformer he claims to be is a key piece of the discussion as O&rsquo;Neill begins his tenure in September and will be a source of debate through next November&rsquo;s Election Day.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>De Blasio&rsquo;s Case for Reform</strong><br />&ldquo;[C]hanges in the police department now are rapid and extraordinary,&rdquo; de Blasio said at a recent press conference. He was speaking in defense of an agreement between the City Council and his administration, namely the NYPD, to institute changes to the department&rsquo;s patrol guide instead of passing police reform legislation with broad support. Many City Council members and police reform advocates blasted the compromise, calling into question de Blasio&rsquo;s commitment to changing the NYPD and putting de Blasio and Mark-Viverito on the defensive.</p> <p dir="ltr">The mayor took the opportunity to downplay the criticism and make his case as a reformer: &ldquo;The retraining of all the officers, the neighborhood policing program, the de-escalation techniques that are being taught, the implicit bias training &ndash; all of this is happening at once,&rdquo; de Blasio said. &ldquo;And because of the [City] Council now, there&rsquo;s going to be a whole new way to approach a number of these situations,&rdquo; he added, referring to changes being brought about with respect to police stops of civilians and communication during those encounters.</p> <p dir="ltr">Alongside the aforementioned numbers of shootings and murders, de Blasio has several other data points to make his reform case: all 34,000 police officers are being trained in de-escalation tactics and will be taught to recognize implicit biases; between 2013 and 2015, marijuana <a href="http://www.justice-data.nyc/historical-trends/">arrests fell</a> from 28,649 to 16,030 and criminal summonses decreased from 424,850 to 297,413; stop-and-frisk incidents dropped from 191,558 to just 22,939; complaints made to the Civilian Complaint Review Board that evaluates allegations of officer misconduct also <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ccrb/downloads/pdf/monthlystats_201607.pdf">decreased</a> from 5,388 new complaints in 2013 to 4,460 in 2015 (and there have been 2,347 complaints in 2016 through June).</p> <p dir="ltr">Arrests for the most serious crimes, felonies like shootings and murders, are up, while arrests for lower-level crimes are down by tens of thousands. At the Thursday press conference to discuss crime numbers for 2016 through July, NYPD officials explained that they continue to heighten their use of precision policing to avoid unnecessary arrests and Bratton reiterated that notion of the &ldquo;peace dividend,&rdquo; whereby for minor offenses officers are relying on arrests as a last resort. They ask people to move along from a stoop or corner, encourage them to not to sleep across several seats on the subway, and so on.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Not Enough to Critics</strong><br />To some City Council members, police reform advocates, and community groups, the mayor&rsquo;s words ring hollow. Many who focus on the NYPD and have long-called for changes to what they say are discriminatory practices are in agreement that this mayor, who has universally stood behind Bratton and Broken Windows policing, has not lived up to his 2013 platform of police reform. De Blasio, critics say, ceded public safety policy to Bratton, who over-polices communities of color, and that the mayor is a hypocritical politician who would rather appease and compromise than implement wholesale, meaningful reform of the police department.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton says his officers go where the crime is and cites the number of 911 and 311 calls that come from communities of color, including many public housing complexes. Reformers say that behaviors that have been virtually decriminalized in predominantly white communities, like riding a bike on the sidewalk, are still being heavily policed in communities of color.</p> <p dir="ltr">For advocates across many organizations, such as Communities United for Police Reform and the Police Reform Organizing Project, and other reformers, including some elected officials, meaningful reform is not only fair enforcement in all communities and decriminalization of most low-level non-violent behaviors, but increased accountability for officers who abuse their powers. Systemic change is needed, they say, to pull policing policy out of the vicissitudes of institutional racism, protecting people&rsquo;s rights in interactions with police and holding the NYPD to a higher standard.</p> <p dir="ltr">There are calls for defunding the NYPD in order to better fund community outreach and social workers, social services, and education and employment opportunities. De Blasio has significantly increased the NYPD budget, including by adding 1,300 new officers to the force, but he has also devoted millions toward homeless outreach, mental health care, and other services to move away from arrests in many typical street encounters.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio&rsquo;s focus has been on training over punishment for officers, wherein he has said that with better-trained officers, there will be far fewer bad actors to hold accountable. He acknowledges that a history of structural racism plagued the NYPD and insists that his administration has taken steps to combat it. &ldquo;I am looking for the tangible, specific things that we can do to make things better,&rdquo; he said in a <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/askthemayor-policing-your-neighborhood">Thursday appearance</a> on WNYC&rsquo;s The Brian Lehrer Show, citing new methods of training and recruitment and giving police officers &ldquo;a different model of policing to overcome some of the history.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">At a recent press conference, de Blasio his focus on &ldquo;how you build a different kind of policing &ndash; different relationship between police and community paradigm shift, culture change.&rdquo; He said that &ldquo;other folks are focused more on accountability&rdquo; and that &ldquo;the accountability discussion is real and it&rsquo;s not only important substantively, it obviously comes with tremendous emotional meaning because there has been so much pain.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Both have to happen and both have to give the public confidence in the rule of law,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But the one that will have by far the greater impact is the former, not the latter.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Many outside the administration say he should indeed focus on both training and punishment. The City Council recently passed and de Blasio&rsquo;s signed into law new NYPD use-of-force reporting guidelines. Still, NYPD watchdogs and critics say that officers are not disciplined for bad behavior as often as or to the extent necessary. Complaints to the Civilian Complaint Review Board about officer misconduct are indeed down under de Blasio and Bratton despite a time of heightened awareness about police misconduct.</p> <p dir="ltr">There are those, including Bratton, who believe that the NYPD is better off without interference from outside quarters and that the City Council regularly oversteps its jurisdiction. At a <a href="http://nypdnews.com/2015/11/police-commissioner-bratton-addresses-citizens-budget-commission/">Nov. 17 Citizens Budget Commission breakfast briefing</a>, Bratton said, &ldquo;The City Council...depending on the day of the week, is supportive and helpful or obstructive and destructive.&rdquo; Referring to a number of reform bills that were under consideration by the Council at the time, Bratton said a majority of them were &ldquo;unnecessary, intrusive and self-serving on the part of particular members of the Council.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Pushback from the commissioner has slowed some reform efforts and watered down others.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton insists it is better to find common ground on policy changes rather than pass more laws, while Council members bristle at the pushback against their legislative and oversight responsibilities and the power the commissioner wields within the de Blasio administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">The mayor has made the argument that the new policies that he and Bratton are implementing will create a culture change in the city&rsquo;s police department and a seismic shift in police-community relations. He has also stressed a strong collaborative effort with the City Council, which has made a significant push for criminal justice and police reform under Mark-Viverito. Even those moves, which include shifting a good deal of low-level non-violent law enforcement from the criminal to civil justice system, are often called insufficient by people who want to see an entirely new policing paradigm in New York. Still, even those reformers almost always acknowledge some progress in the moves being made.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the mayor heads into his 2017 re-election campaign, he has some opportunity to redefine policing under incoming Commissioner O&rsquo;Neill and bridge the gap in trust between police and community members that de Blasio, O&rsquo;Neill, and Bratton all acknowledge continues to exist, though they say they are making strides already. At the center of this is the neighborhood policing initiative that Bratton championed, de Blasio agreed to, and O&rsquo;Neill has been implementing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Just after announcing that Bratton would be retiring and O&rsquo;Neill promoted, de Blasio and the two announced that the neighborhood policing program is expanding further. With 12 more precincts beginning implementation in October, the program will cover a total of 51 percent of citywide commands and 100 percent of housing commands.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Hiring Bratton and Broken Windows</strong><br />When de Blasio ran for mayor, he was Public Advocate, the elected citywide official tasked with speaking on behalf of New Yorkers who government is not properly serving. He forcefully criticized the NYPD and its over-reliance on the practice of stop-question-and-frisk, which earned him significant goodwill with communities of color and activists who saw an opportunity for change.</p> <p dir="ltr">The way the NYPD was practicing stop-and-frisk was deemed unconstitutional <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/12/stop-and-frisk-landmark-ruling">in a federal lawsuit</a> in August 2013. In part, de Blasio rode a wave of displeasure with the NYPD under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to victory in the 2013 Democratic primary, then general election for Mayor.</p> <p dir="ltr">But much of the goodwill de Blasio cultivated began to wither when he hired Bratton to be commissioner of the police department.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t understand how the mayor&rsquo;s primary agenda was to end stop-and-frisk and then he hires the architect of stop-and-frisk,&rdquo; said Dr. Christina Greer, political science professor at Fordham University. For some, Bratton&rsquo;s appointment was a key indicator that de Blasio wasn&rsquo;t going to flip the script on policing, but would instead write a new chapter in a mostly congruent story.</p> <p dir="ltr">While stop-and-frisks began to drop dramatically under Bloomberg given the federal case and heightened scrutiny, a significant reduction has indeed continued under de Blasio. The <a href="http://www.nyclu.org/content/stop-and-frisk-data">number</a> of stops fell from a high of 684,330 in 2011 to 191,558 in 2013, to just 22,939 in 2015. The easing of the practice was seen as a necessary way to let air out of the ballooning tensions between the NYPD and communities of color.</p> <p dir="ltr">Importantly, de Blasio moved to drop the appeal to the stop-and-frisk lawsuit and implement the reforms ordered by the judge, including <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/nypd-wrapping-up-body-camera-pilot-program-1456916402">instituting</a> a police body camera program. The Department of Investigation also appointed an independent Inspector General for the NYPD in March 2014, mandated by a City Council bill that passed over a Bloomberg veto the previous year. In September 2015, the NYPD also <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/nypd-debuts-stop-and-frisk-receipts-new-rules-cops-article-1.2374455">introduced</a> official receipts for stops that don&rsquo;t result in arrests.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The NYPD has been reformed as an institution in a lot of good ways,&rdquo; said Eugene O&rsquo;Donnell, a former NYPD officer, now a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. &ldquo;Notably the easing up of quota-driven policing, and the level of enforcement for enforcement&rsquo;s sake has been curtailed.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">But even now, those stopped-and-frisked are still overwhelmingly people of color, disproportionate to their numbers in the city population. &ldquo;Even though stop-and-frisks are down, they haven&rsquo;t gone away,&rdquo; said Greer. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s better but that doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s good or great.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">A February 2016 report by a federal monitor, appointed by the judge in her ruling, found that many police officers remained ignorant of the new stop-and-frisk reforms and <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/stop-and-frisk-continues-cops-don-reforms-article-1.2533429">continued</a> to engage in unconstitutional stops.</p> <p dir="ltr">Criticism of policing in the city goes well beyond the practice of stop-and-frisk, stretching to the overarching policy of Broken Windows. It is a controversial approach proudly pioneered by Bratton, who previously served as the city&rsquo;s top cop under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani from 1994 to 1996 and was credited with drastically reducing crime across the city.</p> <p dir="ltr">Both de Blasio and Bratton regularly stress the evolving nature of Broken Windows, pointing to the current &ldquo;peace dividend&rdquo; that yields far fewer arrests and negative interactions between police and civilians, fostering greater trust with communities. When a <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/oignypd/downloads/pdf/Quality-of-Life-Report-2010-2015.pdf">recent report</a> by the NYPD Inspector General found no direct correlation between increased quality-of-life enforcement and reduced felony crime, many interpreted it as an indictment of Broken Windows even though the report categorically stated otherwise. Bratton aggressively criticized the report and the mayor largely agreed, though in much more delicate terms.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Quality-of-life enforcement, or Broken Windows as it&rsquo;s sometimes referred to, is an essential component of policing,&rdquo; Bratton said at a <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/556-16/transcript-mayor-de-blasio-police-commissioner-bratton-nyc-pride-march-public-safety">June 23</a> news conference where he addressed the report&rsquo;s findings. &ldquo;Its essentiality, however, is dependent on how it is implemented. And the mayor and I have made a great deal of effort over these two-and-a-half years to modify it to reflect the changed city.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">As he has done before, Bratton drew a doctor-patient analogy of the NYPD&rsquo;s role in the city, saying that the &ldquo;patient&rdquo; is not as sick as before and that allows him to use &ldquo;less threatening medicines&rdquo; to treat the problem.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a July 26 <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/de-blasio-dnc-future-democratic-party/">interview with WNYC</a> on the sidelines of the Democratic National Convention, de Blasio confirmed that he would continue Broken Windows policing even after Bratton&rsquo;s tenure, while indicating that it must continue to evolve. &ldquo;There is no room in that strategy for disparate treatment of communities,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;There is no room in that strategy, from my point of view, to leave it stale. It has to be constantly updated in terms of the training of our officers.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Citing the one million fewer encounters between the police and the community, de Blasio indicated that there was a disconnect between public perception and actual results. &ldquo;I think a lot of the critique is being answered on the ground by real work, but I think the public debate hasn&rsquo;t caught up with that fully,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s not a convincing enough argument for proponents of reform, such as Bob Gangi, director of the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP), who criticized the mayor for hiring &ldquo;the author of Broken Windows,&rdquo; a system that Gangi sees as encouraging &ldquo;quota driven&rdquo; policing. He said the mayor has only made superficial changes to the NYPD instead of substantive reform that recognizes institutional, racially biased police practices.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Broken Windows was introduced by Bratton in 1994,&rdquo; Gangi said. &ldquo;It continued under a different philosophical framework under Giuliani and Bloomberg, and de Blasio and Bratton have kept their foot on the pedal. It targets mostly people of color for minor infractions that have basically been decriminalized in wealthy communities.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Kowtowing to the Commissioner</strong><br />Perhaps the biggest critique of the mayor has been the extent to which he allowed Bratton to drive policing policy, his unwavering loyalty to Bratton, and his willingness to stand behind the commissioner even in controversy.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There is no question that the mayor has ceded public safety policy to the police commissioner to an unprecedented degree,&rdquo; said City Council Member Rory Lancman, another member of the public safety committee and a frequent critic of the mayor, &ldquo;and it is unhealthy and it is inconsistent with the agenda that the mayor promised to New Yorkers he was going to deliver on when he ran.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Even if de Blasio claims that Bratton&rsquo;s policies fall squarely within his own mayoral vision for the police department, their incongruent views at times betrayed differing approaches. The mayor has often been placed in the awkward position of trying to explain the disconnect between Bratton&rsquo;s rhetoric and his own words. For instance, when Bratton referred to rap artists as &ldquo;basically thugs&rdquo; following a fatal shooting at a hip hop concert in the city; the time he said women need to use the buddy system to avoid rape; or when he <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2014/12/bratton-killings-were-spin-off-of-demonstrations-018393">suggested</a> that the killings of two police officers in Dec. 2014 were a &ldquo;direct spin-off&rdquo; of protests against police-involved deaths of unarmed black men. Bratton practically <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/07/bratton-protesters-focus-on-nypd-is-bigotry.html">doubled down</a> on the last claim recently, following the assassination of five police officers by a lone gunman in Dallas, Texas, by characterizing the Black Lives Matter movement as practicing a &ldquo;different kind of bigotry&rdquo; which portrayed all police officers as racist.</p> <p dir="ltr">At each occasion, de Blasio demurred or gave slight clarifying comments through his own view, while being careful not to criticize Bratton. The mayor often pushes back again against critics, time and again saying that Bratton is a reformer who has overseen significant changes in policing, including the new de-escalation training for officers and <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/nypd-stop-arrests-low-level-marijuana-charges-source-article-1.2005222">stopping</a> arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr. Greer said Bratton has been the mayor&rsquo;s &ldquo;Achilles Heel.&rdquo; &ldquo;I think as long as we have someone like Bratton in charge, [the NYPD] can only be reformed so much,&rdquo; she said in an interview just before the announcement of Bratton&rsquo;s departure. &ldquo;This is someone who&rsquo;s consistently used racialized and what I might argue is incendiary language referring to blacks and Latinos in New York City. The most high-ranking NYPD official has his own preconceived notions of particular racial groups.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/bdb_bratton_oneill_tucker_nypd.jpg" alt="bdb bratton oneill tucker nypd" width="300" height="200" style="margin: 5px; float: left;" />With O&rsquo;Neill, Greer said in a follow-up interview that there may be an opportunity, both for the mayor and the new commissioner, to start fresh. &ldquo;[O&rsquo;Neill] is not coming in with the same baggage as Bratton did,&rdquo; said Greer. She said Bratton&rsquo;s departure was not necessarily a &ldquo;negative break&rdquo; and that O&rsquo;Neill should make efforts to establish a positive tone at the start of his tenure. &ldquo;He doesn&rsquo;t want to come in and just be Bratton 2.0,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He has to think critically of what he wants to do in relation to the mayor, the City Council and the community, and what he wants to say and how he wants to say it.&rdquo; She also said that the mayor now had a chance assert himself instead of deferring to his commissioner.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Lancman agrees with that sentiment. He has in the past criticized the pattern of diverging messages from the mayor and Bratton, particularly in light of their recent comments on Black Lives Matter. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m beginning to wonder,&rdquo; he said a few weeks before Bratton&rsquo;s resignation, &ldquo;whether it&rsquo;s just some kind of cynical good cop-bad cop, pardon the metaphor, where the mayor is trying to please both sides of New York by the commissioner taking a more right-leaning view of things and the mayor taking a more left-leaning view of things. But it&rsquo;s unacceptable. It should be one administration. And the mayor promised policies that are not being effectuated and it is in large part because he seems to not have control over his own police department.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">In the wake of Bratton&rsquo;s announcement on Tuesday, Lancman told Gotham Gazette the city has an opportunity to talk about real police reform, which Bratton often stifled despite his many accomplishments.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Chief O&rsquo;Neill now has to establish his own identity and vision and whether or not he is willing to confront issues of over-policing and unequal policing in communities of color,&rdquo; Lancman said. &ldquo;And the mayor has to now take ownership of public safety policy in a way that he hasn&rsquo;t in the last two-and-a-half years.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Lancman also sees a particular opportunity for the City Council to push forward an agenda of police reform, including passing the Right to Know Act and his bill making chokeholds illegal, &ldquo;which were blocked by Commissioner Bratton&rsquo;s obstinate refusal to engage in meaningful dialogue on these issues.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>New Contract with the Community</strong><br />In June 2015, de Blasio and Bratton <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/440-15/mayor-de-blasio-commissioner-bratton-new-groundbreaking-neighborhood-policing-vision#/0">unveiled</a> a new vision for the police department, &ldquo;<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/home/poa.shtml">One City: Safe and Fair - Everywhere</a>. The plan focused heavily on a model of neighborhood policing, interchangeably called community policing, that would create better relationships while also helping to reduce crime.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This is a modern, advanced, sophisticated approach to neighborhood policing,&rdquo; said de Blasio, at the announcement. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s going to mean the cop on the beat knows community leaders, knows the clergy, knows the rhythms of the community, the needs of the community, where the problems are. And the community is going to know that officer. And they&rsquo;re each going to feel a tremendous sense of connection and that they&rsquo;re in it together.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">The plan involved putting more officers on the street, and on the force, made possible by the hiring of 1,300 new police officers at the behest of the City Council. Council Member Jumaane Williams, an outspoken proponent of police reform who sits on the Council&rsquo;s Committee on Public Safety, agrees with the model and said he&rsquo;s seen &ldquo;tangible positive changes&rdquo; in the department. But he said the city has yet to address the issue of accountability for erring police officers.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I am happy that at least this administration is talking to us in a way that didn&rsquo;t happen before,&rdquo; &nbsp;he told Gotham Gazette at a recent Council hearing. &ldquo;That in itself is a plus. But there&rsquo;s still this notion that any discussion around police reform means you&rsquo;re anti-police, means you want to somehow handcuff the police and make communities less safe. The people who represent these communities and put these reforms forward are not stupid, they&rsquo;re not devoid of the pain that&rsquo;s going on. But I think we&rsquo;re viewed as people who don&rsquo;t understand the violence that&rsquo;s going on there.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">The need for increased accountability is one that others have also expressed. &ldquo;I support community policing, but to do it cosmetically and still be unaccountable, that&rsquo;s not changing anything,&rdquo; said William Burnett, a board member of Picture the Homeless (PTH), an advocacy organization. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s just changing appearances, changing optics.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Burnett believes de Blasio isn&rsquo;t the reformer he first appeared to be. &ldquo;I think rhetorically he&rsquo;s a reformer, but in terms of substantive action, the administration is blocking reform,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Rhetoric doesn&rsquo;t have any meaningful impact on people&rsquo;s lives.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">While he praised the mayor for dedicating substantial resources to dealing with mentally ill people, particularly among the city&rsquo;s homeless population, Burnett is wary of creating any additional justification for police interactions with homeless people on the streets. He said such interactions have drastically increased and &ldquo;it has gotten worse.&rdquo; On May 26, Picture the Homeless and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the New York City Human Rights Commission alleging that the NYPD had violated the Community Safety Act, which forbids bias-based profiling, by profiling people based on their housing status.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr. Greer, of Fordham, said one of de Blasio&rsquo;s biggest accomplishments is his ability to compromise, and the community policing model was a product of that but also a &ldquo;missed opportunity.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Couldn&rsquo;t we build community relationships without people carrying weapons walking the neighborhood?&rdquo; she wondered. &ldquo;And in communities that feel hyper-surveilled already.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Resisting the City Council</strong><br />City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has made criminal justice reform a top priority. Council members have proposed wide-ranging legislation to introduce more transparency, scrutiny, and accountability of the police department while also reforming the punitive side of the criminal justice system.</p> <p dir="ltr">It was the City Council that pushed the mayor and commissioner to add 1,300 new police officers to the force, enabling them to put into effect the new neighborhood policing program. The Council <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/city-approves-police-reform-bills-rules-force-article-1.2711991">recently passed</a> three bills requiring quarterly reports on use-of-force by officers across the city, which members say will be important transparency tools that aid in oversight and accountability. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6381-city-council-to-hear-one-of-two-police-accountability-bills">Two other bills</a>, which would create an early warning system for overly aggressive police officers, have yet to pass.</p> <p dir="ltr">Perhaps the most significant criminal justice victory for the Council was a package of bills, named the Criminal Justice Reform Act, which provides for the prosecution of low-level offenses in civil court, in effect preventing thousands of people from getting a criminal record each year and virtually decriminalizing behaviors like having an open container of alcohol that have led to many thousands of criminal summonses and outstanding arrest warrants. The NYPD will, however, retain discretion in applying civil or criminal enforcement in those cases, which was a result of pushback from Bratton.</p> <p dir="ltr">As evidenced by the use-of-force warning system bills, the chokehold bill, the CJRA, and more, de Blasio and Bratton have either stalled or diluted legislation that would create increased oversight of the police department or change law enforcement practices.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The commissioner has declared dead on arrival every police reform bill that the Council has in its hoppers,&rdquo; said Lancman, &ldquo;and the mayor is seemingly giving the commissioner a veto on administration policy as it relates to working with the City Council on police reform.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Even reforms that have been achieved, like the CJRA, Lancman said, owed to the Council &ldquo;dragging and forcing&rdquo; the mayor and commissioner to a point of agreement. (Lancman also criticized the mayor&rsquo;s opposition to his chokehold bill, which would make the practice illegal except in life-threatening situations. The administration instead chose to adopt the bill&rsquo;s definition of chokeholds but in effect <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/30/nyregion/police-department-to-redefine-chokehold-to-match-city-council-bill.html">rolled back</a> an existing departmental restriction on the practice, Lancman says, by making it easier for officers to justify their use.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Chaim Deutsch, who has been among a minority of Council members to oppose many of the criminal justice reforms passed through the Council, including the CJRA and the recently passed use-of-force reporting bills, said he was nevertheless discouraged that members of the public safety committee have rarely had a chance to meet with the commissioner to engage in constructive dialogue on police reform.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think the mayor&rsquo;s trying very hard to reform and I think a lot of it should be done through collaboration with the members of the City Council and the police commissioner and the community without forcing any type of legislation,&rdquo; Deutsch told Gotham Gazette. He said, though, that he has repeatedly asked for a one-on-one meeting with Commissioner Bratton to no avail.</p> <p dir="ltr">John Jay&rsquo;s O&rsquo;Donnell also decried the Council&rsquo;s multiple attempts to push legislation, which he sees as counterproductive to police performance and ultimately recruitment of talented officers. &ldquo;The sum total of all the people critiquing, second guessing, and demonizing the cops is going to absolutely depress the interests of the best people in going into the department,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Vanessa Gibson, chair of the public safety committee, believes the process has been more collaborative between the Council and NYPD. &ldquo;I think sometimes what a lot of New Yorkers don&rsquo;t always understand is that they&rsquo;re our partners,&rdquo; she told reporters at a recent hearing. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t always agree, but I will say that under this administration, under the leadership of our speaker, we&rsquo;ve had an incredible amount of cooperation.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">In the wake of the Bratton and O&rsquo;Neill announcement, though, Gibson did say that she is looking forward to the shift because she knows O&rsquo;Neill well and believes that he better understands the Council&rsquo;s legislative role.</p> <p dir="ltr">The intricacies of the dynamics among the City Council, the mayor and Bratton&rsquo;s police department were on display around the Right to Know Act, and the agreement between Bratton and Mark-Viverito that would table a vote on the legislation in exchange for changes to the NYPD patrol guide. The details of this ongoing saga are instructive of the larger question around de Blasio as a police reformer.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Right to Know Act is aimed directly at the type of issues de Blasio promised to address as a candidate: street stops of civilians by police and the relationships between the two groups. The bills would mandate police officers identify themselves by name, rank, and command when a street stop doesn&rsquo;t result in an arrest and to get consent from a person before searching them during a street stop without probable cause. Officers would also have to inform a person that they have the right to refuse in such instances.</p> <p dir="ltr">The bills go one step further toward ending unconstitutional stop-and-frisks and are reflective of guidelines put forth last year by President Obama&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/taskforce/TaskForce_FinalReport.pdf">Task Force on 21st Century Policing</a>. Bratton publicly derided the bills as another attempt by the Council to meddle in everyday NYPD function. De Blasio cautiously hedged. &ldquo;There will be a legislative process,&rdquo; he said at a Nov. 2014 news conference. &ldquo;In the past, I have raised concerns about that legislation because I want to make sure that we don&rsquo;t inadvertently undermine the ability of law enforcement to do its job. But there will be a legislative process, for sure.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">That legislative process was pre-empted by compromise and the promise of a revised patrol guide that lays out the rules for consent searches: officers will be retrained to obtain consent for the search of a person, home or vehicle and will be required to provide business cards to people after a search. The deal does not come with the weight of law and the speaker&rsquo;s decision was seen by many as a backroom deal that not only betrayed the public but also her own members, a majority of whom were in favor of the bills. Advocates directed their ire towards both the speaker and the mayor for undercutting a crucial measure of accountability.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The recent administration workaround to go around the Right to Know Act shows that [Mayor de Blasio is] committed to a cosmetic fix but not necessarily accountability at the root causes of issues with policing,&rdquo; said Anthonine Pierre, lead community organizer at the Brooklyn Movement Center, a member organization of Communities United for Police Reform, a coalition that includes dozens of community advocacy groups.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Bill de Blasio needs to work with the City Council to get stronger legislation and accountability, to actually make reform that affects people&rsquo;s lives, not just &ldquo;reforms&rdquo; that are politically advantageous to him,&rdquo; Pierre added.</p> <p dir="ltr">Yul-San Liem, co-director of Communities United for Police Reform&rsquo;s justice committee, said the mayor has been &ldquo;acting like a hypocrite&rdquo; when it comes to police reform. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve seen no meaningful police reform legislation that&rsquo;s been passed,&rdquo; she told Gotham Gazette, shortly after a rally on July 13 outside City Hall to call for a vote on the Right to Know Act. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve seen a bunch of statements from City Hall and from the NYPD saying that things are changed but for those of us that are working in communities that are directly impacted, we know that change is not happening on the ground.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The Police and the Mayor</strong><br />The irony in the debate is that while many reform advocates feel the mayor hasn&rsquo;t acted enough, there are those who feel he&rsquo;s overstepped.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Patrolmen&rsquo;s Benevolent Association (PBA), the union of rank-and-file police officers, has targeted him for not being supportive enough of the police force and for creating increasingly dangerous conditions for officers on the ground.</p> <p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s a view shared by Heather Mac Donald, the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. Mac Donald rejected the notion that the NYPD is in need of reform and said it is already under multiple levels of civilian oversight. &ldquo;[The NYPD] is regarded as a paragon across the world of professional, accountable policing,&rdquo; she said. She insisted that the mayor has &ldquo;made things a heck of a lot worse,&rdquo; and characterized his comments regarding a history of racism in policing as &ldquo;outrageous and ignorant.&rdquo; She also said the reduction in stop-and-frisk couldn&rsquo;t be attributed to his policies but were a result of media scrutiny and the federal ruling.</p> <p dir="ltr">The PBA has multiple problems with the mayor, including ongoing contract negotiations. De Blasio entered office with none of the municipal labor unions working under current contracts and his administration has reached deals with 98% of the workforce. The PBA has not agreed to the same deals the de Blasio administration reached with other uniformed unions, firefighters, sanitation workers, and corrections officers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Police union leadership and many officers were skeptical of de Blasio when he came into office due to his campaign rhetoric, which many saw as vilifying the police. De Blasio and his allies say the mayor was criticizing departmental policy as dictated by former Mayor Bloomberg and former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, not insulting the members of the department. Nevertheless, de Blasio was seen as more sympathetic to protesters than police after the death of Eric Garner, a black man killed in a chokehold by a white police officer in July 2014, and as offensive when he explained having to &ldquo;train&rdquo; his own biracial son to be especially careful in interactions with the police.</p> <p dir="ltr">When two NYPD officers were murdered in December 2014, not long after de Blasio made the comments about training his son when a grand jury had declined to indict the officer who put Garner in the chokehold, things reached their boiling point. NYPD members turned their backs on de Blasio at the hospital where Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were taken and at their funerals. The PBA president, Pat Lynch, said de Blasio had blood on his hands and officers engaged in what amounted to a (possibly illegal) work stoppage for several weeks.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton has perhaps been the glue holding things together. The outgoing commissioner has defended de Blasio at every turn even while admitting to low officer morale and a &ldquo;dislike&rdquo; for de Blasio among cops. In <a href="https://charlierose.com/videos/28545">a Thursday interview</a> with Charlie Rose, Bratton acknowledged the &ldquo;gulf that still exists between my mayor and my cops,&rdquo; and said it was a source of major frustration for him as he departs the administration.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>'Tomorrow is too late'</strong><br />&ldquo;Tomorrow is too late,&rdquo; said Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, at the July 13 Right to Know Act rally at City Hall, just a few days before the two-year anniversary of her son&rsquo;s death.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Garner case, perhaps more than other instances of police-involved deaths of people of color, is emblematic the problems people have with police accountability. The officer who placed Garner in the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo, was not indicted by a Staten Island grand jury and, two years on, is still the subject of a federal civil rights investigation. He has not been disciplined by the NYPD other than to modify his duty. Commissioner Bratton has said the department&rsquo;s internal investigation into Pantaleo&rsquo;s behavior is complete, but that the NYPD is waiting to release its findings and any accompanying consequences until the Justice Department has completed its process. Fingers have been pointed at de Blasio and Bratton for not taking more quick action in the case as well as others involving police use of force.</p> <p dir="ltr">Those who spoke at the Right to Know Act rally yelled in outrage, questioning whether they could trust the NYPD to implement provisions of the bills through its patrol guide, the same guide that has banned since 1993 the chokehold that killed Garner. &ldquo;The sense is that if the NYPD says they want to make internal changes in lieu of the City Council passing any laws, they&rsquo;re just trying to evade accountability,&rdquo; said Burnett, from Picture the Homeless, also a member of Communities United for Police Reform.</p> <p dir="ltr">Fordham University&rsquo;s Greer said the city needs to be &ldquo;much more swift and severe&rdquo; when it comes to bad actors in the force, and in training and recruiting officers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Deutsch said change needs to &ldquo;start from the top&rdquo; of the police department, through department-led change in policy instead of Council-led legislation. Council Member Gibson called it &ldquo;a big circle that has to work together&rdquo; on issues of accountability, practices, procedures, and technology.</p> <p dir="ltr">All agree that the city, the mayor, and the police department have a long way to go in bridging the trust deficit between police and communities. According to public opinion polls, de Blasio&rsquo;s support among African-Americans remains strong, though many calling for more assertive police reform are people of color. Backing during his re-election bid will in part come down to who the mayor is facing and what their police reform platform entails.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio and his allies say they are well on their way to making real, lasting police reform progress. Faced with a series of questions over the past two-plus years, de Blasio has repeatedly outlined the steps his administration is taking and said he understands that advocates always want more.</p> <p dir="ltr">This is true. And strident police reformers are largely disillusioned with the mayor.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When the city elected de Blasio, a lot of reformers were encouraged given his progressive bonafides and the campaign that he ran,&rdquo; said PROP director Gangi. &ldquo;To say that he&rsquo;s fallen short is a kind characterization.&rdquo;</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Bill Bratton Announces Retirement from NYPD, to be Replaced by James O'Neill 2016-08-02T04:00:00+00:00 2016-08-02T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6465:bratton-announces-retirement-from-nypd-to-be-replaced-by-o-neill Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/28145486196_81e9d96370_z.jpg" alt="de blasio bratton o'neill gomez nypd" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio, Bratton, O'Neill, &amp; Gomez (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor&rsquo;s Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Bill Bratton, commissioner of the New York Police Department, announced his retirement from the NYPD on Tuesday, ushering in new leadership at the department he has shaped over the course of several decades. At a City Hall press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Bratton will be replaced by Chief of Department James O&rsquo;Neill, who has been a long-time member of the NYPD, rising through its ranks to now fill the top uniformed position under Bratton.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton, who first served as NYPD commissioner under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani between 1994 and 1996, is leaving his post next month for the private sector. The outgoing commissioner is joining Teneo Holdings a &ldquo;global CEO advisory firm,&rdquo; where, according to <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-york-city-police-commissioner-bill-bratton-to-join-teneo-300307878.html" target="_blank">a news release</a> from the company, he will be &ldquo;Senior Managing Director and Executive Chairman of Teneo Risk,&rdquo; &ldquo;a new division of the firm focused on advising clients on key risk identification, prevention and response.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Although Bratton had indicated at earlier occasions that he would step down at or before the end of the mayor&rsquo;s current term in office, Tuesday&rsquo;s announcement just halfway through the third year of that term came as somewhat of a surprise. His retirement comes as crime in New York City is at or near record lows and amid continued calls for reform of NYPD practices and a federal investigation into corruption at upper levels of the department, although the investigation does not appear to directly involve Bratton. United States Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office has recently brought charges against high-ranking NYPD officials, issued <a href="https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/statement-us-attorney-preet-bharara-resignation-commissioner-bratton" target="_blank">a statement</a> congratulating Bratton on his public service.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the news conference, de Blasio called Bratton an &ldquo;extraordinary partner&rdquo; and said his &ldquo;contributions to our city and to law enforcement not only here, but across the nation are literally inestimable and extraordinary.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">He added, &ldquo;I know this is a job for a strong man. I know it is a job for someone with a real vision &ndash; a vision of change and reform and progress. Like I always said about Bill Bratton, who never has ever rested on his laurels to the benefit of all is, [Chief of Department] Jimmy O&rsquo;Neill burns with a passion to keep making things betters, to keep finding the next innovation. And he is going to be an extraordinary leader for this Department.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">While it is a &ldquo;bittersweet moment&rdquo; for him, Bratton said, he explained he is leaving the NYPD in capable hands. &ldquo;I worked very hard for these last couple of years with the Mayor...recognizing there would be a point in time, whether it&rsquo;s now or a year from now, that I would leave,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Policing is never done, it&rsquo;s always unfinished business, and the issues that we&rsquo;re facing now are going to require years to resolve. There&rsquo;s no quick fixes to them. So, recognizing that, better to leave at this juncture where there is a team that is capable, that is energetic, that is creative, and that wants to engage, and you&rsquo;ve met them, you know them, you&rsquo;ve been exposed to them over these last 30 months.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton&rsquo;s career as a police officer began in 1970 in the Boston Police Department. In 1990, he became chief of the New York City Transit Police and two years later he returned to Boston to serve as commissioner. Between 2002 and 2009, he led the Los Angeles Police Department. Bratton worked in the private sector before returning to lead the NYPD upon de Blasio&rsquo;s election.</p> <p dir="ltr">Often viewed as the face of modern policing in the country, Bratton is also a polarizing figure. In his first tenure as NYPD commissioner, under Giuliani, he introduced the CompStat system to statistically track and target crime, and was widely credited with a drastic drop in the city&rsquo;s crime rate. His policies have also defined by the aggressive policing of low-level offenses, a system known as Broken Windows policing, which targets low-level crime and disorder with the belief that such enforcement prevents more serious crime. The practice has earned Bratton criticism from police reform advocates who say Broken Windows disproportionately and unfairly targets communities of color.</p> <p dir="ltr">Under de Blasio, Bratton has overseen a number of changes at the police department, including to how Broken Windows is practiced - both Bratton and de Blasio have described it as an evolving system. Bratton has explained that because of the significant crime drops ushered in by Broken Windows policing, the NYPD has recently been able to reduce the number of &ldquo;negative interactions&rdquo; with civilians. He has called it the &ldquo;peace dividend&rdquo; and also compared the need for aggressive policing to treating cancer with chemotherapy.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton has also implemented new use of force guidelines, reduced enforcement of low-level marijuana arrests, and instituted training in implicit bias and de-escalation tactics. He also spearheaded a neighborhood policing program, crafted by Chief O&rsquo;Neill, designed to repair and build police-community relationships. Crime has been consistently dropping and has been at historic lows while police encounters with civilians have also decreased significantly.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Speaker of the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, in a statement on Tuesday commended Bratton for &ldquo;working hard to keep crime low and our city safe.&rdquo; She added, &ldquo;The City Council looks forward to partnering with incoming Commissioner O&rsquo;Neill as we work to improve police community-relations, reform practices and strive to create a more fair and just city.&rdquo; In the last two-and-a-half years, Bratton has had a complex and at times combative relationship with the City Council, which has pushed numerous police and criminal justice reforms under Mark-Viverito&rsquo;s leadership. There has often been eventual compromise between Bratton and Mark-Viverito, though, which Bratton mentioned during his remarks on Tuesday.</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Council also pushed for the hire of 1,300 additional police officers, which de Blasio originally opposed but eventually agreed to and Bratton appreciated. There have also been major funding increases for the NYPD under Bratton, de Blasio, and the Council.</p> <p dir="ltr">On several occasions, though, Bratton took issue with reforms being sought by the Council, often in harshly worded public statements.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bronx City Council Member Vanessa Gibson, chair of the Council&rsquo;s public safety committee, acknowledged the challenges of the Council-Bratton relationship on Tuesday and said she expects O&rsquo;Neill to bring a more conciliatory approach to the top cop position. &ldquo;I believe that he is someone that we can actually reach and talk to on an everyday basis,&rdquo; Gibson told reporters shortly after the news conference. Gibson said that Bratton was not always easy to talk with and often oppositional to the Council&rsquo;s efforts. She has known O&rsquo;Neill for years, she said, as he has risen through the NYPD ranks, including as a local commander in the Bronx.</p> <p>"It was frustrating because I think when you look at a comparison of what we&rsquo;ve done at the Council in terms of budget or hiring of more officers," Gibson said about the Council's dealings with Bratton, adding that Bratton "refused to understand why legislation was proposed...because after our administration and after our term, we want the good practices of the department to remain in local law for future commissioners and future Council members."</p> <p>With O'Neill, she said, "I think he understands the role that we play and the fact that, you know, we introduce legislation for a reason."</p> <p dir="ltr">While O&rsquo;Neill has been working directly under Bratton and they go back decades, the new commissioner will bring his own personality and leadership to the position. He does not come into it with the fame that Bratton did when de Blasio hired him for this run, and he is not known for the type of blunt public comments that Bratton often makes.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Even though O&rsquo;Neill comes out of the Bratton administration,&rdquo; said Dr. Christina Greer, political science professor at Fordham University, &ldquo;I still think it&rsquo;s an opportunity to establish his own style of governance and establish his own relationships with communities of color.&rdquo; Like Bratton, O&rsquo;Neill is white. It was also announced Tuesday that First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, who is black, will stay on under O&rsquo;Neill, and that Housing Bureau Chief Carlos Gomez, who is Cuban, will replace O&rsquo;Neill as chief of department.</p> <p>"I love being a cop, I love this uniform, I love what it stands for and want to help make this a better city," O'Neill said in his remarks on Tuesday, during which he was at times emotional as he ascended to his dream job. O'Neill also recognized the need for continued reform at the NYPD.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton said on Tuesday that on July 8 he told de Blasio of his intention to retire from the NYPD and pursue a public sector job. The Mayor&rsquo;s Office told Gotham Gazette that no external search for a replacement was conducted and that only O&rsquo;Neill and Tucker were considered, with O&rsquo;Neill getting the nod.</p> <p>In a statement, the New York Civil Liberties Union praised certain policies under Bratton but criticized his commitment to Broken Windows policing, calling it an &ldquo;outmoded policing model of the 1990s&rdquo; and &ldquo;not effective.&rdquo; The NYCLU wants O&rsquo;Neill to embrace de-escalation tactics and community-based policing. &ldquo;We need a new era of policing in New York,&rdquo; the organization contends.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/28145486196_81e9d96370_z.jpg" alt="de blasio bratton o'neill gomez nypd" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio, Bratton, O'Neill, &amp; Gomez (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor&rsquo;s Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Bill Bratton, commissioner of the New York Police Department, announced his retirement from the NYPD on Tuesday, ushering in new leadership at the department he has shaped over the course of several decades. At a City Hall press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Bratton will be replaced by Chief of Department James O&rsquo;Neill, who has been a long-time member of the NYPD, rising through its ranks to now fill the top uniformed position under Bratton.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton, who first served as NYPD commissioner under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani between 1994 and 1996, is leaving his post next month for the private sector. The outgoing commissioner is joining Teneo Holdings a &ldquo;global CEO advisory firm,&rdquo; where, according to <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-york-city-police-commissioner-bill-bratton-to-join-teneo-300307878.html" target="_blank">a news release</a> from the company, he will be &ldquo;Senior Managing Director and Executive Chairman of Teneo Risk,&rdquo; &ldquo;a new division of the firm focused on advising clients on key risk identification, prevention and response.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Although Bratton had indicated at earlier occasions that he would step down at or before the end of the mayor&rsquo;s current term in office, Tuesday&rsquo;s announcement just halfway through the third year of that term came as somewhat of a surprise. His retirement comes as crime in New York City is at or near record lows and amid continued calls for reform of NYPD practices and a federal investigation into corruption at upper levels of the department, although the investigation does not appear to directly involve Bratton. United States Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office has recently brought charges against high-ranking NYPD officials, issued <a href="https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/statement-us-attorney-preet-bharara-resignation-commissioner-bratton" target="_blank">a statement</a> congratulating Bratton on his public service.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the news conference, de Blasio called Bratton an &ldquo;extraordinary partner&rdquo; and said his &ldquo;contributions to our city and to law enforcement not only here, but across the nation are literally inestimable and extraordinary.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">He added, &ldquo;I know this is a job for a strong man. I know it is a job for someone with a real vision &ndash; a vision of change and reform and progress. Like I always said about Bill Bratton, who never has ever rested on his laurels to the benefit of all is, [Chief of Department] Jimmy O&rsquo;Neill burns with a passion to keep making things betters, to keep finding the next innovation. And he is going to be an extraordinary leader for this Department.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">While it is a &ldquo;bittersweet moment&rdquo; for him, Bratton said, he explained he is leaving the NYPD in capable hands. &ldquo;I worked very hard for these last couple of years with the Mayor...recognizing there would be a point in time, whether it&rsquo;s now or a year from now, that I would leave,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Policing is never done, it&rsquo;s always unfinished business, and the issues that we&rsquo;re facing now are going to require years to resolve. There&rsquo;s no quick fixes to them. So, recognizing that, better to leave at this juncture where there is a team that is capable, that is energetic, that is creative, and that wants to engage, and you&rsquo;ve met them, you know them, you&rsquo;ve been exposed to them over these last 30 months.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton&rsquo;s career as a police officer began in 1970 in the Boston Police Department. In 1990, he became chief of the New York City Transit Police and two years later he returned to Boston to serve as commissioner. Between 2002 and 2009, he led the Los Angeles Police Department. Bratton worked in the private sector before returning to lead the NYPD upon de Blasio&rsquo;s election.</p> <p dir="ltr">Often viewed as the face of modern policing in the country, Bratton is also a polarizing figure. In his first tenure as NYPD commissioner, under Giuliani, he introduced the CompStat system to statistically track and target crime, and was widely credited with a drastic drop in the city&rsquo;s crime rate. His policies have also defined by the aggressive policing of low-level offenses, a system known as Broken Windows policing, which targets low-level crime and disorder with the belief that such enforcement prevents more serious crime. The practice has earned Bratton criticism from police reform advocates who say Broken Windows disproportionately and unfairly targets communities of color.</p> <p dir="ltr">Under de Blasio, Bratton has overseen a number of changes at the police department, including to how Broken Windows is practiced - both Bratton and de Blasio have described it as an evolving system. Bratton has explained that because of the significant crime drops ushered in by Broken Windows policing, the NYPD has recently been able to reduce the number of &ldquo;negative interactions&rdquo; with civilians. He has called it the &ldquo;peace dividend&rdquo; and also compared the need for aggressive policing to treating cancer with chemotherapy.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton has also implemented new use of force guidelines, reduced enforcement of low-level marijuana arrests, and instituted training in implicit bias and de-escalation tactics. He also spearheaded a neighborhood policing program, crafted by Chief O&rsquo;Neill, designed to repair and build police-community relationships. Crime has been consistently dropping and has been at historic lows while police encounters with civilians have also decreased significantly.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Speaker of the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, in a statement on Tuesday commended Bratton for &ldquo;working hard to keep crime low and our city safe.&rdquo; She added, &ldquo;The City Council looks forward to partnering with incoming Commissioner O&rsquo;Neill as we work to improve police community-relations, reform practices and strive to create a more fair and just city.&rdquo; In the last two-and-a-half years, Bratton has had a complex and at times combative relationship with the City Council, which has pushed numerous police and criminal justice reforms under Mark-Viverito&rsquo;s leadership. There has often been eventual compromise between Bratton and Mark-Viverito, though, which Bratton mentioned during his remarks on Tuesday.</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Council also pushed for the hire of 1,300 additional police officers, which de Blasio originally opposed but eventually agreed to and Bratton appreciated. There have also been major funding increases for the NYPD under Bratton, de Blasio, and the Council.</p> <p dir="ltr">On several occasions, though, Bratton took issue with reforms being sought by the Council, often in harshly worded public statements.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bronx City Council Member Vanessa Gibson, chair of the Council&rsquo;s public safety committee, acknowledged the challenges of the Council-Bratton relationship on Tuesday and said she expects O&rsquo;Neill to bring a more conciliatory approach to the top cop position. &ldquo;I believe that he is someone that we can actually reach and talk to on an everyday basis,&rdquo; Gibson told reporters shortly after the news conference. Gibson said that Bratton was not always easy to talk with and often oppositional to the Council&rsquo;s efforts. She has known O&rsquo;Neill for years, she said, as he has risen through the NYPD ranks, including as a local commander in the Bronx.</p> <p>"It was frustrating because I think when you look at a comparison of what we&rsquo;ve done at the Council in terms of budget or hiring of more officers," Gibson said about the Council's dealings with Bratton, adding that Bratton "refused to understand why legislation was proposed...because after our administration and after our term, we want the good practices of the department to remain in local law for future commissioners and future Council members."</p> <p>With O'Neill, she said, "I think he understands the role that we play and the fact that, you know, we introduce legislation for a reason."</p> <p dir="ltr">While O&rsquo;Neill has been working directly under Bratton and they go back decades, the new commissioner will bring his own personality and leadership to the position. He does not come into it with the fame that Bratton did when de Blasio hired him for this run, and he is not known for the type of blunt public comments that Bratton often makes.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Even though O&rsquo;Neill comes out of the Bratton administration,&rdquo; said Dr. Christina Greer, political science professor at Fordham University, &ldquo;I still think it&rsquo;s an opportunity to establish his own style of governance and establish his own relationships with communities of color.&rdquo; Like Bratton, O&rsquo;Neill is white. It was also announced Tuesday that First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, who is black, will stay on under O&rsquo;Neill, and that Housing Bureau Chief Carlos Gomez, who is Cuban, will replace O&rsquo;Neill as chief of department.</p> <p>"I love being a cop, I love this uniform, I love what it stands for and want to help make this a better city," O'Neill said in his remarks on Tuesday, during which he was at times emotional as he ascended to his dream job. O'Neill also recognized the need for continued reform at the NYPD.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bratton said on Tuesday that on July 8 he told de Blasio of his intention to retire from the NYPD and pursue a public sector job. The Mayor&rsquo;s Office told Gotham Gazette that no external search for a replacement was conducted and that only O&rsquo;Neill and Tucker were considered, with O&rsquo;Neill getting the nod.</p> <p>In a statement, the New York Civil Liberties Union praised certain policies under Bratton but criticized his commitment to Broken Windows policing, calling it an &ldquo;outmoded policing model of the 1990s&rdquo; and &ldquo;not effective.&rdquo; The NYCLU wants O&rsquo;Neill to embrace de-escalation tactics and community-based policing. &ldquo;We need a new era of policing in New York,&rdquo; the organization contends.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
City Council to Pass Reforms Aimed at Broken Windows Policing 2016-05-23T04:00:00+00:00 2016-05-23T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6350:city-council-to-pass-reforms-aimed-at-broken-windows-policing Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/15847638534_ee7a634268_z.jpg" alt="MMV BdB Bratton" width="600" height="402" /></p> <p>City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alariste)</p> <hr /> <p>City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has a year and a half left on the job and is clearly focused on making criminal justice reform a centerpiece of her legacy. While a commission formed by the speaker explores other changes to the city&rsquo;s criminal justice system and the idea of closing the notorious Rikers Island jail complex, the City Council on Wednesday will vote on a package of bills that will in large part establish civil rather than criminal punishment for low-level nonviolent offenses and provide alternatives to monetary penalties.</p> <p>The package of legislation that the Council will pass and Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign takes direct aim at reforming the enforcement of Broken Windows policing, a controversial trademark of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton whereby low-level offenses are aggressively policed in an effort to protect quality of life and prevent more serious crimes.</p> <p>In her State of the City address on Feb. 11, 2015 Mark-Viverito <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5569-in-state-of-the-city-mark-viverito-pushes-progressive-agenda-further" target="_blank">promised a more fair criminal justice system</a> by reducing penalties for low-level quality-of-life offenses that disproportionately affect young men of color. What followed was the Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA), eight bills heard by the City Council in January and set to be voted through this week, with a few modifications.</p> <p>The CJRA, which would take effect over the next year, creates guidelines for the police department to follow regarding littering, noise violations, public urination, open alcohol container violations, and breaking park rules. Barring repeated violations or nonpayment of fines, officers would be encouraged to give out tickets instead of criminal summonses. In effect, the reforms do not decriminalize these behaviors but mandate alternative punishments, largely civil penalties as opposed to criminal.</p> <p>&ldquo;For too long, New York&rsquo;s Criminal Justice System has been broken - it&rsquo;s time we fix it,&rdquo; said Mark-Viverito in a statement accompanying news that the package of bills will pass this week. The CJRA, she said, will create &ldquo;a more fair and just system that will ensure the penalties fit the crime.&rdquo;</p> <p>The Council did not arrive at the final solution alone. The mayor and the NYPD, initially holding several reservations, negotiated with the Council before and after the legislative package was introduced. Mayor Bill de Blasio said in <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2015/04/28/mayor-denounces-violence-against-police-in-baltimore-in-ny1-interview.html" target="_blank">an April 2015 interview</a> with NY1&rsquo;s Errol Louis, &ldquo;I think Speaker Mark-Viverito put forward some very heartfelt proposals. I don&rsquo;t agree with them in the first instance, but they&rsquo;re certainly going to get an honest discussion from us. I know Commissioner [Bill] Bratton feels the same way.&rdquo;</p> <p>On Monday, he was no longer reticent about the reforms. &ldquo;We pledged to reduce unnecessary arrests while protecting the quality of life of all our residents, and this legislation is an important step toward this essential goal,&rdquo; de Blasio said in a statement. One key for having de Blasio and Bratton on board is that the package does not remove the criminal codes involved, leaving the NYPD leeway, including in demanding identification from and running background checks on those they stop for violations.</p> <p>Some of the amendments to the bills added civil penalties where there were none proposed earlier, maintained criminal enforcement for particular violations, and included a mechanism to track police criteria for determining the nature of the violation as civil or criminal. The Council estimates that CJRA changes will divert about 100,000 cases from the criminal court system, save 10,000 people annually from having a permanent criminal record for these low-level offenses, and drastically reduce by tens of thousands the number of summons warrants issued - the city currently has a backlog of warrants well over one million.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have worked closely with the Mayor, the Speaker and the Council on this legislation,&rdquo; said Peter Donald, NYPD director of communications, in an email. &ldquo;The new legislation allows the NYPD to use the full range of enforcement tools that we currently have to address these offenses while providing us with the additional option to issue a civil summons instead of a criminal summons or arrest in appropriate circumstances. This legislation advances the many steps the NYPD has taken to implement precision policing in all communities throughout the City.&rdquo;</p> <p>Commissioner Bratton has recently touted his use of a &ldquo;peace dividend,&rdquo; which is the reduction in unnecessary negative interactions between NYPD officers and New Yorkers that is allowable by continuing drops in crime. Arrest numbers have indeed been dropping.</p> <p>One of the CJRA bills would allow people to participate in community service offered by the Office of Administrative Tribunals and Hearings instead of paying a fine. OATH will also track these offenses and evaluate how they are imposed.</p> <p>Another bill changes the $25 criminal penalty for an open alcohol container to a civil fine for the same amount. Like others, this change is aimed at avoiding criminal records for individuals committing low-level nonviolent offenses.</p> <p>The first bill to go partially into effect reduces misdemeanors for breaking parks rules to violations. In 30 days after the bill is signed into law, it will no longer be a misdemeanor to be in a park at night or fail to comply with park signs. Other elements of the bill would apply after a year.</p> <p>Another month after that (60 days from signing), the law establishing civil instead of criminal penalties for littering and public urination would apply. The original legislation was amended to allow criminal enforcement and additional civil penalties.</p> <p>Under two other bills, the NYPD would have to report the number of summonses and Desk Appearance Tickets (issued in the case of misdemeanors) every three months, with demographic data. The first summons report would be due October 2017 while the DAT report is due by this July.</p> <p>City Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo, a Republican from Staten Island, calls the bills "unnecessary."&nbsp;In a statement to Gotham Gazette, Matteo said, "The NYPD should - and does - have the flexibility to enforce quality-of-life crimes appropriately and judiciously. But that enforcement should be dictated by policies tailored to specific community problems and trends, not overarching legislation. In my view, most of these bills are unnecessary and send the wrong message about our public safety priorities.&rdquo;</p> <p>Calling it a "balanced approach," City Council Public Safety Committee Chair Vanessa Gibson said in a statement, &ldquo;The Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2016 gives our police force tools to address low-level offenses for what they are: infractions to be taken seriously, but not ones that should yield life altering consequences."</p> <p>While some conservative critics worry about a reduction in safety and quality of life, for criminal justice advocates outside of government, the bills are not all they want to see, but certainly a significant step forward for the city.</p> <p>&ldquo;This act makes important progress away from the crippling effects of &lsquo;broken windows&rsquo; policing and toward policing practices that are smarter, fairer and safer for all New Yorkers,&rdquo; said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, in a statement.</p> <p>The reforms move the city&rsquo;s system &ldquo;closer to actual justice and away from an overreliance on arrests, prosecution and jail for low-level offenses,&rdquo; said Tina Luongo, attorney in charge, criminal defense practice, the New York Legal Aid Society, while pointing out that the existing system disproportionately penalizes communities of color and low income New Yorkers.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are pleased City Council has acknowledged that jail time and criminal penalties &ndash; with all of the attendant civil consequences such as job loss, eviction or deportation &ndash; are inappropriate punishments for things like littering or holding an open beer can on the street,&rdquo; said Lisa Schreibersdorf, executive director of Brooklyn Defender Services.</p> <p>&ldquo;Civil adjudication is a more appropriate response to these issues,&rdquo; Schreibersdorf added, &ldquo;and we look forward to continuing to work with the City Council on the implementation of the new law.&rdquo;</p> <p>Not all advocates are satisfied, however. Many want low-level offenses to be completely decriminalized as opposed to finding alternative punishments. Alex Vitale, associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, finds it encouraging that the Council is recognizing the effect of what he calls over-policing. &ldquo;But my concern is that they are still relying heavily on punitive responses to the city&rsquo;s problems,&rdquo; Vitale said in a phone interview. &ldquo;Rather than debate whether or not people should be getting arrested or [getting] a ticket for public urination, the city should be installing public bathrooms.&rdquo;</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/15847638534_ee7a634268_z.jpg" alt="MMV BdB Bratton" width="600" height="402" /></p> <p>City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alariste)</p> <hr /> <p>City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has a year and a half left on the job and is clearly focused on making criminal justice reform a centerpiece of her legacy. While a commission formed by the speaker explores other changes to the city&rsquo;s criminal justice system and the idea of closing the notorious Rikers Island jail complex, the City Council on Wednesday will vote on a package of bills that will in large part establish civil rather than criminal punishment for low-level nonviolent offenses and provide alternatives to monetary penalties.</p> <p>The package of legislation that the Council will pass and Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign takes direct aim at reforming the enforcement of Broken Windows policing, a controversial trademark of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton whereby low-level offenses are aggressively policed in an effort to protect quality of life and prevent more serious crimes.</p> <p>In her State of the City address on Feb. 11, 2015 Mark-Viverito <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5569-in-state-of-the-city-mark-viverito-pushes-progressive-agenda-further" target="_blank">promised a more fair criminal justice system</a> by reducing penalties for low-level quality-of-life offenses that disproportionately affect young men of color. What followed was the Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA), eight bills heard by the City Council in January and set to be voted through this week, with a few modifications.</p> <p>The CJRA, which would take effect over the next year, creates guidelines for the police department to follow regarding littering, noise violations, public urination, open alcohol container violations, and breaking park rules. Barring repeated violations or nonpayment of fines, officers would be encouraged to give out tickets instead of criminal summonses. In effect, the reforms do not decriminalize these behaviors but mandate alternative punishments, largely civil penalties as opposed to criminal.</p> <p>&ldquo;For too long, New York&rsquo;s Criminal Justice System has been broken - it&rsquo;s time we fix it,&rdquo; said Mark-Viverito in a statement accompanying news that the package of bills will pass this week. The CJRA, she said, will create &ldquo;a more fair and just system that will ensure the penalties fit the crime.&rdquo;</p> <p>The Council did not arrive at the final solution alone. The mayor and the NYPD, initially holding several reservations, negotiated with the Council before and after the legislative package was introduced. Mayor Bill de Blasio said in <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2015/04/28/mayor-denounces-violence-against-police-in-baltimore-in-ny1-interview.html" target="_blank">an April 2015 interview</a> with NY1&rsquo;s Errol Louis, &ldquo;I think Speaker Mark-Viverito put forward some very heartfelt proposals. I don&rsquo;t agree with them in the first instance, but they&rsquo;re certainly going to get an honest discussion from us. I know Commissioner [Bill] Bratton feels the same way.&rdquo;</p> <p>On Monday, he was no longer reticent about the reforms. &ldquo;We pledged to reduce unnecessary arrests while protecting the quality of life of all our residents, and this legislation is an important step toward this essential goal,&rdquo; de Blasio said in a statement. One key for having de Blasio and Bratton on board is that the package does not remove the criminal codes involved, leaving the NYPD leeway, including in demanding identification from and running background checks on those they stop for violations.</p> <p>Some of the amendments to the bills added civil penalties where there were none proposed earlier, maintained criminal enforcement for particular violations, and included a mechanism to track police criteria for determining the nature of the violation as civil or criminal. The Council estimates that CJRA changes will divert about 100,000 cases from the criminal court system, save 10,000 people annually from having a permanent criminal record for these low-level offenses, and drastically reduce by tens of thousands the number of summons warrants issued - the city currently has a backlog of warrants well over one million.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have worked closely with the Mayor, the Speaker and the Council on this legislation,&rdquo; said Peter Donald, NYPD director of communications, in an email. &ldquo;The new legislation allows the NYPD to use the full range of enforcement tools that we currently have to address these offenses while providing us with the additional option to issue a civil summons instead of a criminal summons or arrest in appropriate circumstances. This legislation advances the many steps the NYPD has taken to implement precision policing in all communities throughout the City.&rdquo;</p> <p>Commissioner Bratton has recently touted his use of a &ldquo;peace dividend,&rdquo; which is the reduction in unnecessary negative interactions between NYPD officers and New Yorkers that is allowable by continuing drops in crime. Arrest numbers have indeed been dropping.</p> <p>One of the CJRA bills would allow people to participate in community service offered by the Office of Administrative Tribunals and Hearings instead of paying a fine. OATH will also track these offenses and evaluate how they are imposed.</p> <p>Another bill changes the $25 criminal penalty for an open alcohol container to a civil fine for the same amount. Like others, this change is aimed at avoiding criminal records for individuals committing low-level nonviolent offenses.</p> <p>The first bill to go partially into effect reduces misdemeanors for breaking parks rules to violations. In 30 days after the bill is signed into law, it will no longer be a misdemeanor to be in a park at night or fail to comply with park signs. Other elements of the bill would apply after a year.</p> <p>Another month after that (60 days from signing), the law establishing civil instead of criminal penalties for littering and public urination would apply. The original legislation was amended to allow criminal enforcement and additional civil penalties.</p> <p>Under two other bills, the NYPD would have to report the number of summonses and Desk Appearance Tickets (issued in the case of misdemeanors) every three months, with demographic data. The first summons report would be due October 2017 while the DAT report is due by this July.</p> <p>City Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo, a Republican from Staten Island, calls the bills "unnecessary."&nbsp;In a statement to Gotham Gazette, Matteo said, "The NYPD should - and does - have the flexibility to enforce quality-of-life crimes appropriately and judiciously. But that enforcement should be dictated by policies tailored to specific community problems and trends, not overarching legislation. In my view, most of these bills are unnecessary and send the wrong message about our public safety priorities.&rdquo;</p> <p>Calling it a "balanced approach," City Council Public Safety Committee Chair Vanessa Gibson said in a statement, &ldquo;The Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2016 gives our police force tools to address low-level offenses for what they are: infractions to be taken seriously, but not ones that should yield life altering consequences."</p> <p>While some conservative critics worry about a reduction in safety and quality of life, for criminal justice advocates outside of government, the bills are not all they want to see, but certainly a significant step forward for the city.</p> <p>&ldquo;This act makes important progress away from the crippling effects of &lsquo;broken windows&rsquo; policing and toward policing practices that are smarter, fairer and safer for all New Yorkers,&rdquo; said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, in a statement.</p> <p>The reforms move the city&rsquo;s system &ldquo;closer to actual justice and away from an overreliance on arrests, prosecution and jail for low-level offenses,&rdquo; said Tina Luongo, attorney in charge, criminal defense practice, the New York Legal Aid Society, while pointing out that the existing system disproportionately penalizes communities of color and low income New Yorkers.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are pleased City Council has acknowledged that jail time and criminal penalties &ndash; with all of the attendant civil consequences such as job loss, eviction or deportation &ndash; are inappropriate punishments for things like littering or holding an open beer can on the street,&rdquo; said Lisa Schreibersdorf, executive director of Brooklyn Defender Services.</p> <p>&ldquo;Civil adjudication is a more appropriate response to these issues,&rdquo; Schreibersdorf added, &ldquo;and we look forward to continuing to work with the City Council on the implementation of the new law.&rdquo;</p> <p>Not all advocates are satisfied, however. Many want low-level offenses to be completely decriminalized as opposed to finding alternative punishments. Alex Vitale, associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, finds it encouraging that the Council is recognizing the effect of what he calls over-policing. &ldquo;But my concern is that they are still relying heavily on punitive responses to the city&rsquo;s problems,&rdquo; Vitale said in a phone interview. &ldquo;Rather than debate whether or not people should be getting arrested or [getting] a ticket for public urination, the city should be installing public bathrooms.&rdquo;</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 4 2016-04-03T05:00:00+00:00 2016-04-03T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6260:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-april-4 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>We're about two weeks from New York's April 19 presidential primary vote. The three remaining Republican candidates and two remaining Democrats have been campaigning in New York, which is more in play than it has been in several cycles. Hillary Clinton is set to hold events in New York City and Albany Monday, including a rally with Gov. Cuomo and a meeting with state Assembly Democrats, and while the candidates are also paying attention to Wisconsin as the week begins, New York already has a great deal of their and the nation's focus. It should be an exciting and dramatic two weeks. As this week begins, the Clinton and Sanders campaigns continue to spar over whether there will be a Democratic debate in New York before the state votes.</p> <p>All three Republican candidates - Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich - are set to attend the New York GOP's annual gala, set for April 14. The candidates are expected to campaign in New York over the next two weeks.</p> <p>The day of the New York presidential primaries, April 19, is also the date of special elections in the state Legislature, including the races to replace both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Both those races appear competitive two weeks out. The Senate race is especially important given that Democrats are eyeing this year's elections as a chance to take control of the chamber - they already have a wide majority in the Assembly.</p> <p>Monday will see return to a focus on the recently-passed state budget. Hillary Clinton will rally in New York City Monday with Gov. Cuomo and others to celebrate that the budget includes a path to a $15 per hour minimum wage and a paid family leave policy.</p> <p>There is sure to be more analysis of the $147-plus billion budget this week, it was passed Friday after much last-minute negotiating (a deal was announced just a few hours before the midnight Thursday deadline, with voting by the Legislature taking place through Thursday evening and into Friday - the state's fiscal year begins April 1). The new budget was met with some criticism, largely over the process by which it was agreed upon and passed with little time for review by lawmakers and the public, and much celebration, especially over the minimum wage and paid family leave provisions, as well as increased funding for education, transportation infrastructure, and more. There is a lot of budget language to digest as the details have been made public.</p> <p>The Legislature is due in Albany for three days of post-budget legislative session this week. Including this week, there are 27 days of session scheduled between now and its scheduled end on June 16. Issues to address include mayoral control of New York City schools, which expires at the end of June (the Senate will hold two May hearings, it recently announced, at which Mayor de Blasio is expected to testify), a property tax abatement program to spur affordable housing development (renewing or replacing the expired 421-a program), raising the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16, the Dream Act, and much more - including government ethics reform, which the governor says will be his top priority after none was included in the budget deal.</p> <p>On Monday we expect the City Council's official response to Mayor Bill de Blasio's $82 billion preliminary budget plan. The Council has held a month of budget hearings and now has the state budget to consider, so it is able to give its response to the mayor, who will take it and the state budget into account as he prepares his executive budget. When de Blasio releases his updated spending plan in a few weeks, it will kick off another round of Council budget hearings as the two sides head toward a deal by the end of June and the July 1 start of the city's new fiscal year. Since major cuts in funding to the city from the state that Gov. Cuomo had in his budget plan were taken out of the final deal, there will be little drama to the city budget process the rest of the way. The biggest bone of contention appears to be whether the mayor is insisting on enough agency savings. There will also be small battles over things like <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6240-library-funding-one-discrepancy-in-quiet-city-budget-season" target="_blank">levels of library funding</a>.</p> <p>Many eyes are also <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6262-with-clock-ticking-east-new-york-negotiations-to-heat-up" target="_blank">on East New York as the week begins</a>. A large area of the Brooklyn community is set to be rezoned, the first of 15 neighborhoods where the de Blasio administration plans to significantly change land use rules to facilitate more housing and community improvements, but the clock is ticking as the administration and local stakeholders, led by City Council Member Rafael Espinal, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6262-with-clock-ticking-east-new-york-negotiations-to-heat-up" target="_blank">negotiate the final details of the plan</a>. There is no zoning subcommittee or land use committee vote scheduled as of Sunday evening, but one could be scheduled if a deal is reached. The parties have until the end of the month to reach and pass a deal.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Council’s preliminary budget response to Mayor de Blasio is expected on Monday.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Monday at the Javits Center in Manhattan, The Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice will hold a "victory rally for $15 minimum wage and paid family leave"&nbsp;- participants will include "Governor Andrew M. Cuomo; Hillary Clinton; George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and Chair of the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice; labor leaders; advocates and minimum wage workers." City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is expected to attend the rally, according to her schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 1 p.m. at 1 Police Plaza,&nbsp;"Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton will host a press conference to discuss monthly crime stats," according to the mayor's public schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Transportation will meet to discuss several items, such as the provision of certain parking privileges for press vehicles, the requirement of curb extensions at certain dangerous intersections, and the establishment of Earth Day 2016 as a car-free day for private and all non-essential city vehicles.</li> <li dir="ltr">10:30 a.m., the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections will meet to discuss various candidates for appointment to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the Board of Corrections, and the City Planning Commission.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will meet to address several land use applications.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Committee on Contracts will hold an oversight meeting on the challenges facing nonprofits in city contracting.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 11:30 a.m. Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña&nbsp;will visit "a Model Dual Language Program to make an announcement," at High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies in Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at noon,&nbsp;"At a press conference Monday, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance will release a new report on Mayor de Blasio's OneNYC Plan, his administration's blueprint for increasing the city's environmental sustainability and resiliency. The report shows that six low-income communities of color on the waterfront designated by the city as Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas (SMIAs)—the South Bronx, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Newtown Creek, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the North Shore of Staten Island—are still the most vulnerable to the threats of climate change and not sufficiently protected by the OneNYC Plan. A number of constructive recommendations for strengthening the plan are offered in the detailed report."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks&nbsp;"at 32BJ Security Contract Rally" at the Wall Street Bull. At 9 p.m., Stringer will appear on BronxTalk with Gary Axelbank (BronxNet TV or Bronxnet.org).</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7:30 p.m. Monday in Albany, the burgeoning Museum of Political Corruption will host a <a href="http://www.museumofpoliticalcorruption.org/news.html" target="_blank">roundtable discussion and public forum</a> on political corruption following a reception and fundraiser. Speakers include Frank Anechiarico, professor of government and law at Hamilton College; Blair Horner, Executive Director of the New York Public Interest Research Group; Zephyr Teachout, Fordham Law School professor and Congressional candidate; Jimmy Vielkind, Politico NY Albany bureau chief; and Thomas Bass, SUNY Albany professor, who will moderate.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8 a.m., Bill Mulrow, secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo will <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-events&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-events-20160317" target="_blank">discuss</a> the administration’s budget goals and legislative priorities, including a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, and infrastructure projects, at a Crain’s New York Business event. Moderating the conversation will be Crain’s New York editor Erik Engquist and Ken Lovett of the Daily News.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Tuesday on the Upper East Side,&nbsp;the launch of LinkNYC Kiosks with free Wi-Fi and more, featuring City Council Member Ben Kallos, Assistant Commissioner Telecommunications Planning at NYC Department of Information and Technology Stanley Shor and LinkNYC General Manager Jen Hensley (86th Street and 3rd Avenue, South East Corner).</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Tuesday: at 10 a.m., the Committee on Immigration will address a resolution calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a decision in U.S. v. Texas, which overturns the Fifth Circuit’s ruling and upholds the implementation of President Obama’s expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 2 p.m., a town hall meeting to discuss the 2017 referendum to hold a New York constitutional convention will be held at the University at Buffalo. The event will feature a number of experts, such as Gerald Benjamin of SUNY New Paltz and Henrik Dullea, who served as director of state operations and policy management for Governor Mario Cuomo from 1983-91, who will discuss what a constitutional convention would look like and the issues at stake in constitutional reform.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m., The Coalition to End Broken Windows will launch a two-day <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breaking-broken-windows-tickets-21796569125" target="_blank">conference</a>, Breaking Broken Windows, at the CUNY Graduate Center. Participants will evaluate, debate, and debunk Broken Windows policing theory, which “contends that policing disorder leads to reductions in serious crime.” They will also analyze the era of mass criminalization and imprisonment while working towards alternative solutions for a better future for New York City. Speakers include a variety of academics, advocates, and journalists, including Noha Arafa, of New Yorkers Against Bratton, Janine Jackson of Fairness &amp; Accuracy in Reporting, and Professor Alex Vitale of Brooklyn College.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Queens, "City Council "Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Access Queens will host a Town Hall on the 7 train with New York City Transit President Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim. At this event, 7 train riders, angry and frustrated by seemingly endless delays, overcrowding, and weekend and evening closures, will have the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns directly with the president of New York City Transit."</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Manhattan Institute and the Fordham Institute will host a <a href="http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/future-charter-schools—and-school-choice—-nyc-8621.html?et=5c3c75c9f5a6e1fc8f4bc64f46e771fc" target="_blank">conference</a> beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to address “The Future of Charter Schools—And School Choice—In NYC,” following a recent study ranking U.S. cities on various school-choice metrics (by the Fordham Institute) finding that local political support for charters in NYC has fallen from 8th to 26th place, and the city’s overall ranking from 3rd to 12th. Speakers include Priscilla Wohlstetter, professor at Teachers College, Columbia University; James Merriman, president of the New York City Charter School Center; Michael Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute; and Charles Sahm, Director of Education Policy at the Manhattan Institute.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet to address several resolutions on Nicholas’ Law, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, Congressional funding for gun violence research, safeguards against wrongful convictions, and opposing the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.</li> <li dir="ltr">11 a.m., the Committee on Economic Development will hear a bill requiring a survey and study of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity among the leadership of city contractors.</li> <li dir="ltr">11 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will meet to address several issues deferred from the meeting of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Committee on Governmental Operations will meet to evaluate the structure and content of the preliminary Mayor’s Management Report.</li> </ul> <p>On Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Albany,&nbsp;"State Senator Liz Krueger will hold a forum on modernizing sales tax collection in New York State. New York State's current system of sales tax collection has not kept up with changes in retail payment methods and technological innovation. This forum will evaluate proposals for modernizing the collection of sales tax to improve its efficiency for retailers and to reduce the potential for fraud through sales tax suppression. One tax researcher has estimated that sales tax suppression costs New York State $1.7 billion in revenue annually. A number of other states and countries have adopted or are exploring the adoption of new technologies to address these issues."</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will host a <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/moving-beyond-the-rhetoric-creating-a-diverse-workplace-in-the-21st-c-tickets-22062477464?ct=t(March+Programs+Week+3+(03082016))&amp;mc_eid=[UNIQID]&amp;mc_cid=6d60e307a9" target="_blank">panel</a> to discuss “Moving Beyond the Rhetoric: Creating a Diverse Workplace in the 21st Century.” Panelists include professionals leading Bloomberg LP’s Diversity and Inclusion group; Kristen Titus, Founding Director of NYC Tech Talent Pipeline; Anthony Crowell, President of New York Law School; Eulas Boyd, Dean of Admissions at Brooklyn Law School; and Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs” and will discuss their experiences in building and instituting workplace diversity policies.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Columbia’s schools of International and Public Affairs and Law will host a public policy forum about policing, criminal justice reform, and public integrity. Loretta Lynch, the 83rd Attorney General of the U.S., will deliver the keynote address. Former Mayor David Dinkins, who the event is named for and is a professor at Columbia, will deliver remarks. Professor Ester Fuchs will moderate a panel on&nbsp;on "Criminal Justice Reform and Public Integrity" featuring Mark Peters, Commissioner, NYC Department of Investigation; Daniel C. Richman, Paul J. Keller Professor of Law, Columbia Law School; Ken Thompson, Brooklyn District Attorney; Nicholas Turner, President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice. (This event is by invitation only.)</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to address a land use application and introduce a bill establishing a temporary program to resolve outstanding penalties imposed by the environmental control board.</li> <li dir="ltr">1:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a full-body stated meeting, which will be prefaced as usual by a pre-stated press conference hosted by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">State Legislature hearings Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Insurance and the Assembly Standing Committee on Health will be hosting a <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/write/upload/publichearing/20160318.pdf" target="_blank">public hearing</a> to evaluate the process of modifying or enhancing health insurance coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act.</li> <li dir="ltr">Noon in Oakdale, the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction will host a <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">public meeting</a> to examine the issues facing communities in the wake of increased heroin abuse.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Thursday, the MTA will hold a <a href="http://web.mta.info/mta/news/hearings/" target="_blank">public hearing</a> about a proposal to restore service to the N and Q lines in connection with the opening of Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway, expected to be completed late this year.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara <a href="https://twitter.com/PreetBharara/status/715551466505814016" target="_blank">is scheduled to deliver</a> the keynote speech at the New York Press Association Spring <a href="https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/tab2.aspx?EventID=1812032" target="_blank">Convention</a>, which will begin at 9 a.m. Friday.</p> <p>At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo will join the ROLE Call in hosting the NYC Fatherhood and Family Enrichment Conference at Port Richmond High School. This <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nyc-fatherhood-and-family-enrichment-conference-2016-tickets-21128906127" target="_blank">event</a> aims to enhance Fatherhood Engagement by offering seminars and workshops in family and fatherhood services.</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Kelly Fan and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>We're about two weeks from New York's April 19 presidential primary vote. The three remaining Republican candidates and two remaining Democrats have been campaigning in New York, which is more in play than it has been in several cycles. Hillary Clinton is set to hold events in New York City and Albany Monday, including a rally with Gov. Cuomo and a meeting with state Assembly Democrats, and while the candidates are also paying attention to Wisconsin as the week begins, New York already has a great deal of their and the nation's focus. It should be an exciting and dramatic two weeks. As this week begins, the Clinton and Sanders campaigns continue to spar over whether there will be a Democratic debate in New York before the state votes.</p> <p>All three Republican candidates - Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich - are set to attend the New York GOP's annual gala, set for April 14. The candidates are expected to campaign in New York over the next two weeks.</p> <p>The day of the New York presidential primaries, April 19, is also the date of special elections in the state Legislature, including the races to replace both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Both those races appear competitive two weeks out. The Senate race is especially important given that Democrats are eyeing this year's elections as a chance to take control of the chamber - they already have a wide majority in the Assembly.</p> <p>Monday will see return to a focus on the recently-passed state budget. Hillary Clinton will rally in New York City Monday with Gov. Cuomo and others to celebrate that the budget includes a path to a $15 per hour minimum wage and a paid family leave policy.</p> <p>There is sure to be more analysis of the $147-plus billion budget this week, it was passed Friday after much last-minute negotiating (a deal was announced just a few hours before the midnight Thursday deadline, with voting by the Legislature taking place through Thursday evening and into Friday - the state's fiscal year begins April 1). The new budget was met with some criticism, largely over the process by which it was agreed upon and passed with little time for review by lawmakers and the public, and much celebration, especially over the minimum wage and paid family leave provisions, as well as increased funding for education, transportation infrastructure, and more. There is a lot of budget language to digest as the details have been made public.</p> <p>The Legislature is due in Albany for three days of post-budget legislative session this week. Including this week, there are 27 days of session scheduled between now and its scheduled end on June 16. Issues to address include mayoral control of New York City schools, which expires at the end of June (the Senate will hold two May hearings, it recently announced, at which Mayor de Blasio is expected to testify), a property tax abatement program to spur affordable housing development (renewing or replacing the expired 421-a program), raising the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16, the Dream Act, and much more - including government ethics reform, which the governor says will be his top priority after none was included in the budget deal.</p> <p>On Monday we expect the City Council's official response to Mayor Bill de Blasio's $82 billion preliminary budget plan. The Council has held a month of budget hearings and now has the state budget to consider, so it is able to give its response to the mayor, who will take it and the state budget into account as he prepares his executive budget. When de Blasio releases his updated spending plan in a few weeks, it will kick off another round of Council budget hearings as the two sides head toward a deal by the end of June and the July 1 start of the city's new fiscal year. Since major cuts in funding to the city from the state that Gov. Cuomo had in his budget plan were taken out of the final deal, there will be little drama to the city budget process the rest of the way. The biggest bone of contention appears to be whether the mayor is insisting on enough agency savings. There will also be small battles over things like <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6240-library-funding-one-discrepancy-in-quiet-city-budget-season" target="_blank">levels of library funding</a>.</p> <p>Many eyes are also <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6262-with-clock-ticking-east-new-york-negotiations-to-heat-up" target="_blank">on East New York as the week begins</a>. A large area of the Brooklyn community is set to be rezoned, the first of 15 neighborhoods where the de Blasio administration plans to significantly change land use rules to facilitate more housing and community improvements, but the clock is ticking as the administration and local stakeholders, led by City Council Member Rafael Espinal, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6262-with-clock-ticking-east-new-york-negotiations-to-heat-up" target="_blank">negotiate the final details of the plan</a>. There is no zoning subcommittee or land use committee vote scheduled as of Sunday evening, but one could be scheduled if a deal is reached. The parties have until the end of the month to reach and pass a deal.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Council’s preliminary budget response to Mayor de Blasio is expected on Monday.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Monday at the Javits Center in Manhattan, The Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice will hold a "victory rally for $15 minimum wage and paid family leave"&nbsp;- participants will include "Governor Andrew M. Cuomo; Hillary Clinton; George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and Chair of the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice; labor leaders; advocates and minimum wage workers." City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is expected to attend the rally, according to her schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 1 p.m. at 1 Police Plaza,&nbsp;"Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton will host a press conference to discuss monthly crime stats," according to the mayor's public schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Transportation will meet to discuss several items, such as the provision of certain parking privileges for press vehicles, the requirement of curb extensions at certain dangerous intersections, and the establishment of Earth Day 2016 as a car-free day for private and all non-essential city vehicles.</li> <li dir="ltr">10:30 a.m., the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections will meet to discuss various candidates for appointment to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the Board of Corrections, and the City Planning Commission.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will meet to address several land use applications.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Committee on Contracts will hold an oversight meeting on the challenges facing nonprofits in city contracting.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 11:30 a.m. Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña&nbsp;will visit "a Model Dual Language Program to make an announcement," at High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies in Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at noon,&nbsp;"At a press conference Monday, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance will release a new report on Mayor de Blasio's OneNYC Plan, his administration's blueprint for increasing the city's environmental sustainability and resiliency. The report shows that six low-income communities of color on the waterfront designated by the city as Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas (SMIAs)—the South Bronx, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Newtown Creek, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the North Shore of Staten Island—are still the most vulnerable to the threats of climate change and not sufficiently protected by the OneNYC Plan. A number of constructive recommendations for strengthening the plan are offered in the detailed report."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks&nbsp;"at 32BJ Security Contract Rally" at the Wall Street Bull. At 9 p.m., Stringer will appear on BronxTalk with Gary Axelbank (BronxNet TV or Bronxnet.org).</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7:30 p.m. Monday in Albany, the burgeoning Museum of Political Corruption will host a <a href="http://www.museumofpoliticalcorruption.org/news.html" target="_blank">roundtable discussion and public forum</a> on political corruption following a reception and fundraiser. Speakers include Frank Anechiarico, professor of government and law at Hamilton College; Blair Horner, Executive Director of the New York Public Interest Research Group; Zephyr Teachout, Fordham Law School professor and Congressional candidate; Jimmy Vielkind, Politico NY Albany bureau chief; and Thomas Bass, SUNY Albany professor, who will moderate.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8 a.m., Bill Mulrow, secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo will <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-events&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-events-20160317" target="_blank">discuss</a> the administration’s budget goals and legislative priorities, including a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, and infrastructure projects, at a Crain’s New York Business event. Moderating the conversation will be Crain’s New York editor Erik Engquist and Ken Lovett of the Daily News.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Tuesday on the Upper East Side,&nbsp;the launch of LinkNYC Kiosks with free Wi-Fi and more, featuring City Council Member Ben Kallos, Assistant Commissioner Telecommunications Planning at NYC Department of Information and Technology Stanley Shor and LinkNYC General Manager Jen Hensley (86th Street and 3rd Avenue, South East Corner).</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Tuesday: at 10 a.m., the Committee on Immigration will address a resolution calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a decision in U.S. v. Texas, which overturns the Fifth Circuit’s ruling and upholds the implementation of President Obama’s expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 2 p.m., a town hall meeting to discuss the 2017 referendum to hold a New York constitutional convention will be held at the University at Buffalo. The event will feature a number of experts, such as Gerald Benjamin of SUNY New Paltz and Henrik Dullea, who served as director of state operations and policy management for Governor Mario Cuomo from 1983-91, who will discuss what a constitutional convention would look like and the issues at stake in constitutional reform.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m., The Coalition to End Broken Windows will launch a two-day <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breaking-broken-windows-tickets-21796569125" target="_blank">conference</a>, Breaking Broken Windows, at the CUNY Graduate Center. Participants will evaluate, debate, and debunk Broken Windows policing theory, which “contends that policing disorder leads to reductions in serious crime.” They will also analyze the era of mass criminalization and imprisonment while working towards alternative solutions for a better future for New York City. Speakers include a variety of academics, advocates, and journalists, including Noha Arafa, of New Yorkers Against Bratton, Janine Jackson of Fairness &amp; Accuracy in Reporting, and Professor Alex Vitale of Brooklyn College.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Queens, "City Council "Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Access Queens will host a Town Hall on the 7 train with New York City Transit President Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim. At this event, 7 train riders, angry and frustrated by seemingly endless delays, overcrowding, and weekend and evening closures, will have the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns directly with the president of New York City Transit."</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Manhattan Institute and the Fordham Institute will host a <a href="http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/future-charter-schools—and-school-choice—-nyc-8621.html?et=5c3c75c9f5a6e1fc8f4bc64f46e771fc" target="_blank">conference</a> beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to address “The Future of Charter Schools—And School Choice—In NYC,” following a recent study ranking U.S. cities on various school-choice metrics (by the Fordham Institute) finding that local political support for charters in NYC has fallen from 8th to 26th place, and the city’s overall ranking from 3rd to 12th. Speakers include Priscilla Wohlstetter, professor at Teachers College, Columbia University; James Merriman, president of the New York City Charter School Center; Michael Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute; and Charles Sahm, Director of Education Policy at the Manhattan Institute.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet to address several resolutions on Nicholas’ Law, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, Congressional funding for gun violence research, safeguards against wrongful convictions, and opposing the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.</li> <li dir="ltr">11 a.m., the Committee on Economic Development will hear a bill requiring a survey and study of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity among the leadership of city contractors.</li> <li dir="ltr">11 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will meet to address several issues deferred from the meeting of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Committee on Governmental Operations will meet to evaluate the structure and content of the preliminary Mayor’s Management Report.</li> </ul> <p>On Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Albany,&nbsp;"State Senator Liz Krueger will hold a forum on modernizing sales tax collection in New York State. New York State's current system of sales tax collection has not kept up with changes in retail payment methods and technological innovation. This forum will evaluate proposals for modernizing the collection of sales tax to improve its efficiency for retailers and to reduce the potential for fraud through sales tax suppression. One tax researcher has estimated that sales tax suppression costs New York State $1.7 billion in revenue annually. A number of other states and countries have adopted or are exploring the adoption of new technologies to address these issues."</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will host a <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/moving-beyond-the-rhetoric-creating-a-diverse-workplace-in-the-21st-c-tickets-22062477464?ct=t(March+Programs+Week+3+(03082016))&amp;mc_eid=[UNIQID]&amp;mc_cid=6d60e307a9" target="_blank">panel</a> to discuss “Moving Beyond the Rhetoric: Creating a Diverse Workplace in the 21st Century.” Panelists include professionals leading Bloomberg LP’s Diversity and Inclusion group; Kristen Titus, Founding Director of NYC Tech Talent Pipeline; Anthony Crowell, President of New York Law School; Eulas Boyd, Dean of Admissions at Brooklyn Law School; and Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs” and will discuss their experiences in building and instituting workplace diversity policies.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Columbia’s schools of International and Public Affairs and Law will host a public policy forum about policing, criminal justice reform, and public integrity. Loretta Lynch, the 83rd Attorney General of the U.S., will deliver the keynote address. Former Mayor David Dinkins, who the event is named for and is a professor at Columbia, will deliver remarks. Professor Ester Fuchs will moderate a panel on&nbsp;on "Criminal Justice Reform and Public Integrity" featuring Mark Peters, Commissioner, NYC Department of Investigation; Daniel C. Richman, Paul J. Keller Professor of Law, Columbia Law School; Ken Thompson, Brooklyn District Attorney; Nicholas Turner, President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice. (This event is by invitation only.)</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to address a land use application and introduce a bill establishing a temporary program to resolve outstanding penalties imposed by the environmental control board.</li> <li dir="ltr">1:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a full-body stated meeting, which will be prefaced as usual by a pre-stated press conference hosted by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">State Legislature hearings Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Insurance and the Assembly Standing Committee on Health will be hosting a <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/write/upload/publichearing/20160318.pdf" target="_blank">public hearing</a> to evaluate the process of modifying or enhancing health insurance coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act.</li> <li dir="ltr">Noon in Oakdale, the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction will host a <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">public meeting</a> to examine the issues facing communities in the wake of increased heroin abuse.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Thursday, the MTA will hold a <a href="http://web.mta.info/mta/news/hearings/" target="_blank">public hearing</a> about a proposal to restore service to the N and Q lines in connection with the opening of Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway, expected to be completed late this year.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara <a href="https://twitter.com/PreetBharara/status/715551466505814016" target="_blank">is scheduled to deliver</a> the keynote speech at the New York Press Association Spring <a href="https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/tab2.aspx?EventID=1812032" target="_blank">Convention</a>, which will begin at 9 a.m. Friday.</p> <p>At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo will join the ROLE Call in hosting the NYC Fatherhood and Family Enrichment Conference at Port Richmond High School. This <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nyc-fatherhood-and-family-enrichment-conference-2016-tickets-21128906127" target="_blank">event</a> aims to enhance Fatherhood Engagement by offering seminars and workshops in family and fatherhood services.</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Kelly Fan and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Criminal Justice Reform Act is No Alternative to Broken Windows Policing 2016-01-24T19:01:27+00:00 2016-01-24T19:01:27+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6112:criminal-justice-reform-act-is-no-alternative-to-broken-windows-policing Super User <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;<img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/bratton_times_sq_group.jpg" alt="bratton times sq group" height="409" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">NYPD ceremony in Times Square (photo: @CommissBratton)</p> <hr /> <p>Monday morning the City Council will begin consideration of a series of bills, called the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=457235&amp;GUID=63127871-E21F-4241-B2F1-44A3EA6AFA2F&amp;Options=info&amp;Search" target="_blank">Criminal Justice Reform Act</a>, which would limit the use of criminal penalties to manage a variety of low level “quality of life” offenses such as public drinking, park code violations, noise, and public urination. City Council Member Vanessa Gibson, chair of the public safety committee, said she hopes these changes will reduce the problem of excessive criminalization in communities of color, a sentiment echoed by Council Member Rory Lancman, chair of the courts committee, <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/easing-up-low-level-crimes/" target="_blank">on WNYC radio</a> last Friday. Lancman noted that too many areas of the city have experienced overpolicing and overcriminalization.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Act, being spearheaded by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, &nbsp;already has broad support in the Council and the endorsement of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, and thus, Mayor de Blasio. It's encouraging that political leaders in New York City are exploring ways of reducing the impact of the criminal justice system on communities of color, but this package of reforms is at best a baby step, and at worst, may open the door to more racially discriminatory police actions.</p> <p dir="ltr">The bills, if passed, would create new civil penalty options for these offences by allowing police to choose between a criminal summons and a civil one when encountering an offender, a choice made based on departmental guidelines. The criminal codes remain on the books per Bratton’s insistence, which he says is necessary so that officers can demand identification, conduct searches, and perform background checks.</p> <p dir="ltr">With a criminal summons, people must appear in summons court and if they fail to do so a warrant is issued for their arrest. Over a million such arrest warrants are currently on the books, leading to numerous unfortunate encounters with the police, such as being arrested on the way to work or to pick children up from school.</p> <p dir="ltr">The new civil process, to be administered by the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, will be more like traffic court in which people must pay a fine or perform community service, but no warrant will result from failure to comply. Instead, a <a href="https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/civil/collectingjudg.shtml" target="_blank">civil judgement</a> will be issued, which could result in the garnishment of wages or bank accounts, or seizure of property. This might also affect one’s credit rating. None of this will result in incarceration, which is positive, but the penalties can still be substantial, with fines ranging from $25 to $250 for a first offense.</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition, these financial penalties are likely to fall heaviest on areas where quality-of-life, or broken windows, enforcement is the most widespread, removing resources from already poor communities. While some will escape these penalties through community service programs, many working poor will not.</p> <p dir="ltr">Vincent Riggins, chair of the public safety committee of Community Board 5 in East New York has actually called for the return of half of all those fines to the local community board to be spent on community development projects. It is a great idea that would reduce the financial incentive that has driven excessive and discriminatory summonsing in places like Ferguson, MO.</p> <p dir="ltr">Riggins has raised another important point. By leaving these offenses on the books, rather than truly decriminalizing them, the door is left open for the kinds of invasive policing experienced under stop, question, and frisk in recent years. By keeping open alcohol an offense, police will have “reasonable suspicion” to stop anyone drinking a beverage in a bag or unmarked container, potentially leading to exactly the kinds of unwarranted police intrusions that we have worked so hard to reduce. While Bratton rightly touts reductions in police enforcement encounters, racial disparities persist.</p> <p dir="ltr">Another area of concern is the discretionary nature of the new rules. The NYPD insisted that it would only support the bill if it retained the ability to treat these offences as criminal when officers felt it appropriate. This gives them the ability to demand ID and run people for warrants. But what will determine who gets a civil summons, who gets a criminal one, and who gets run for warrants? There is a real risk that the more punitive practices will become heavily concentrated in exactly those poor, non-white communities that bore the brunt of stop, question, and frisk, and who bear the burden of most criminal summonses and low level arrests now.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Gibson says that there will be a process of determining policies for guiding officer discretion, and that the City Council is calling for the default to be a civil summons. This outcome, however, is far from assured, since the ultimate decision rests with the NYPD and the officer on the street. Therefore, there is a real risk that the police will perceive the need to take harsher and more invasive action in exactly the same places they do now, with milder penalties reserved for more prosperous parts of the city. If these changes are enacted, this must be monitored closely, something Council Members Jumaane Williams and Mark Levine are proposing through a bill mandating reporting by the NYPD.</p> <p dir="ltr">Any reduction in the use of criminal penalties is welcome, but this measure retains an adherence to using punitive mechanisms to manage so called quality-of-life problems in keeping with the deeply <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5199-neoconservative-roots-broken-windows-policing-theory-nypd-bratton-vitale" target="_blank">conservative Broken Windows theory</a>. There is nothing in the bill to develop non-punitive mechanisms for addressing community problems.</p> <p dir="ltr">As one caller <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/easing-up-low-level-crimes/" target="_blank">to WNYC</a> pointed out, the current criminal penalties seem to be largely ineffective in reducing the amount of public urination, why should the civil penalties be any more effective? They won’t. The reality is that public bathrooms are largely non-existent in New York City. Other major cities around the world have much more developed amenities in place and have largely avoided this problem. If you don’t want people to pee in public, give them functional and accessible public bathrooms, not a choice between criminal and civil sanctions.</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition, a lot of quality-of-life problems are driven by pervasive underemployment for youth of color, a lack of positive social activities for young people, and widespread homelessness. While the Mayor and City Council have started to acknowledge the extent of some of these problems, their focus has been primarily on hiring more police and tinkering with what kind of punitive sanctions to use, rather than a major redistribution of resources away from police, courts, and prisons, and towards housing, healthcare, and youth services.</p> <p dir="ltr">In his book The Silent Black Majority, Michael Fortner shows that the push for criminal justice solutions to community problems was supported by many in poor black communities and my own research on the rise of quality-of-life policing in the ‘90s shows the same thing. But what I also found was that these communities also called for youth centers, improved housing, and better schools, but what they got was only the policing and prisons. It’s time our political leaders quit asking the NYPD for permission to really shift resources away from the criminal justice system and towards improving communities in positive ways.</p> <p dir="ltr">In Los Angeles, the <a href="http://www.youth4justice.org/take-action/la-for-youth-1-campaign" target="_blank">Youth Justice Coalition</a> has called for redirecting 1% of all criminal justice spending ($100 million) in the county towards youth jobs, community centers, and violence reduction outreach workers. That would be real reform. The <a href="http://www.policereformorganizingproject.org/" target="_blank">Police Reform Organizing Project</a> here in New York is currently exploring a similar initiative on an even broader scale. Crime and disorder matter and need to be addressed, but we must strive to develop affirming rather than punitive solutions whenever possible. If the City Council is serious about reducing the negative impacts of the criminal justice system, it should start by revisiting its decision to expand the NYPD. More police with more discretion is not the answer.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />Alex S. Vitale is&nbsp;associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and author of City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New York Politics. He is senior policy adviser to the Police Reform Organizing Project and serves on the New York State Advisory Committee to the US Civil Rights Commission. You can follow him on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/avitale" target="_blank">@avitale</a></p> <p dir="ltr">

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
<p dir="ltr">&nbsp;<img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/bratton_times_sq_group.jpg" alt="bratton times sq group" height="409" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">NYPD ceremony in Times Square (photo: @CommissBratton)</p> <hr /> <p>Monday morning the City Council will begin consideration of a series of bills, called the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=457235&amp;GUID=63127871-E21F-4241-B2F1-44A3EA6AFA2F&amp;Options=info&amp;Search" target="_blank">Criminal Justice Reform Act</a>, which would limit the use of criminal penalties to manage a variety of low level “quality of life” offenses such as public drinking, park code violations, noise, and public urination. City Council Member Vanessa Gibson, chair of the public safety committee, said she hopes these changes will reduce the problem of excessive criminalization in communities of color, a sentiment echoed by Council Member Rory Lancman, chair of the courts committee, <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/easing-up-low-level-crimes/" target="_blank">on WNYC radio</a> last Friday. Lancman noted that too many areas of the city have experienced overpolicing and overcriminalization.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Act, being spearheaded by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, &nbsp;already has broad support in the Council and the endorsement of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, and thus, Mayor de Blasio. It's encouraging that political leaders in New York City are exploring ways of reducing the impact of the criminal justice system on communities of color, but this package of reforms is at best a baby step, and at worst, may open the door to more racially discriminatory police actions.</p> <p dir="ltr">The bills, if passed, would create new civil penalty options for these offences by allowing police to choose between a criminal summons and a civil one when encountering an offender, a choice made based on departmental guidelines. The criminal codes remain on the books per Bratton’s insistence, which he says is necessary so that officers can demand identification, conduct searches, and perform background checks.</p> <p dir="ltr">With a criminal summons, people must appear in summons court and if they fail to do so a warrant is issued for their arrest. Over a million such arrest warrants are currently on the books, leading to numerous unfortunate encounters with the police, such as being arrested on the way to work or to pick children up from school.</p> <p dir="ltr">The new civil process, to be administered by the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, will be more like traffic court in which people must pay a fine or perform community service, but no warrant will result from failure to comply. Instead, a <a href="https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/civil/collectingjudg.shtml" target="_blank">civil judgement</a> will be issued, which could result in the garnishment of wages or bank accounts, or seizure of property. This might also affect one’s credit rating. None of this will result in incarceration, which is positive, but the penalties can still be substantial, with fines ranging from $25 to $250 for a first offense.</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition, these financial penalties are likely to fall heaviest on areas where quality-of-life, or broken windows, enforcement is the most widespread, removing resources from already poor communities. While some will escape these penalties through community service programs, many working poor will not.</p> <p dir="ltr">Vincent Riggins, chair of the public safety committee of Community Board 5 in East New York has actually called for the return of half of all those fines to the local community board to be spent on community development projects. It is a great idea that would reduce the financial incentive that has driven excessive and discriminatory summonsing in places like Ferguson, MO.</p> <p dir="ltr">Riggins has raised another important point. By leaving these offenses on the books, rather than truly decriminalizing them, the door is left open for the kinds of invasive policing experienced under stop, question, and frisk in recent years. By keeping open alcohol an offense, police will have “reasonable suspicion” to stop anyone drinking a beverage in a bag or unmarked container, potentially leading to exactly the kinds of unwarranted police intrusions that we have worked so hard to reduce. While Bratton rightly touts reductions in police enforcement encounters, racial disparities persist.</p> <p dir="ltr">Another area of concern is the discretionary nature of the new rules. The NYPD insisted that it would only support the bill if it retained the ability to treat these offences as criminal when officers felt it appropriate. This gives them the ability to demand ID and run people for warrants. But what will determine who gets a civil summons, who gets a criminal one, and who gets run for warrants? There is a real risk that the more punitive practices will become heavily concentrated in exactly those poor, non-white communities that bore the brunt of stop, question, and frisk, and who bear the burden of most criminal summonses and low level arrests now.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Gibson says that there will be a process of determining policies for guiding officer discretion, and that the City Council is calling for the default to be a civil summons. This outcome, however, is far from assured, since the ultimate decision rests with the NYPD and the officer on the street. Therefore, there is a real risk that the police will perceive the need to take harsher and more invasive action in exactly the same places they do now, with milder penalties reserved for more prosperous parts of the city. If these changes are enacted, this must be monitored closely, something Council Members Jumaane Williams and Mark Levine are proposing through a bill mandating reporting by the NYPD.</p> <p dir="ltr">Any reduction in the use of criminal penalties is welcome, but this measure retains an adherence to using punitive mechanisms to manage so called quality-of-life problems in keeping with the deeply <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5199-neoconservative-roots-broken-windows-policing-theory-nypd-bratton-vitale" target="_blank">conservative Broken Windows theory</a>. There is nothing in the bill to develop non-punitive mechanisms for addressing community problems.</p> <p dir="ltr">As one caller <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/easing-up-low-level-crimes/" target="_blank">to WNYC</a> pointed out, the current criminal penalties seem to be largely ineffective in reducing the amount of public urination, why should the civil penalties be any more effective? They won’t. The reality is that public bathrooms are largely non-existent in New York City. Other major cities around the world have much more developed amenities in place and have largely avoided this problem. If you don’t want people to pee in public, give them functional and accessible public bathrooms, not a choice between criminal and civil sanctions.</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition, a lot of quality-of-life problems are driven by pervasive underemployment for youth of color, a lack of positive social activities for young people, and widespread homelessness. While the Mayor and City Council have started to acknowledge the extent of some of these problems, their focus has been primarily on hiring more police and tinkering with what kind of punitive sanctions to use, rather than a major redistribution of resources away from police, courts, and prisons, and towards housing, healthcare, and youth services.</p> <p dir="ltr">In his book The Silent Black Majority, Michael Fortner shows that the push for criminal justice solutions to community problems was supported by many in poor black communities and my own research on the rise of quality-of-life policing in the ‘90s shows the same thing. But what I also found was that these communities also called for youth centers, improved housing, and better schools, but what they got was only the policing and prisons. It’s time our political leaders quit asking the NYPD for permission to really shift resources away from the criminal justice system and towards improving communities in positive ways.</p> <p dir="ltr">In Los Angeles, the <a href="http://www.youth4justice.org/take-action/la-for-youth-1-campaign" target="_blank">Youth Justice Coalition</a> has called for redirecting 1% of all criminal justice spending ($100 million) in the county towards youth jobs, community centers, and violence reduction outreach workers. That would be real reform. The <a href="http://www.policereformorganizingproject.org/" target="_blank">Police Reform Organizing Project</a> here in New York is currently exploring a similar initiative on an even broader scale. Crime and disorder matter and need to be addressed, but we must strive to develop affirming rather than punitive solutions whenever possible. If the City Council is serious about reducing the negative impacts of the criminal justice system, it should start by revisiting its decision to expand the NYPD. More police with more discretion is not the answer.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />Alex S. Vitale is&nbsp;associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and author of City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New York Politics. He is senior policy adviser to the Police Reform Organizing Project and serves on the New York State Advisory Committee to the US Civil Rights Commission. You can follow him on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/avitale" target="_blank">@avitale</a></p> <p dir="ltr">

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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