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  • Right to Know Act is Progress We Need Now

    Jason Salmon

    The author, center


    I’m lying awake at 4 a.m. wondering if our calls for justice will ever be answered. The evening before I was marching in midtown, protesting the tragic killing of Alton Sterling. It’s been 17 months since the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and two years since Eric Garner’s death by suffocation at the hands of police. Even with cell phone cameras making this deadly reality no longer something we can ignore, justice remains elusive.

    Lying awake, scrolling through Instagram, I noticed a lot of people liking and re-

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  • Even with Crime Low, De Blasio and Police Union 'Worlds Apart'

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    Mayor de Blasio speaks at NYPD graduation (Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Last month, contract negotiations between City Hall and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the union that represents the city’s rank-and-file police officers, again reached a standstill.

    On June 28, the PBA filed a Declaration of Impasse with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) asking it to appoint a mediator in the negotiations over a contract that goes back to 2012. The union, which

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  • De Blasio and The Complications of Vetting Campaign Donors

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    Mayor de Blasio, 2014 (photo: Rob Bennett/Mayor's Office) 


    In the early stages of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s run for office in 2013, thousands of small donations flooded in but big donors were rare. “I will admit to you there was a time early in the mayoral campaign when a maximum donation was a very unusual thing in our campaign, so it certainly got attention then,” the mayor said, at a June 15 news conference.

    As the situation changed and bigger donations became more “typical,” the mayor said his campaign was

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  • NYPD Expands Neighborhood Policing Program

     

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    An NYPD patrol car in Downtown Manhattan (Sofie Hecht for Gotham Gazette)


    The New York Police Department’s program to reimagine policing with a focus on creating community relationships expanded to six additional precincts and one more housing Police Service Area (PSA) last week, bringing the total to 26 precincts and six PSAs now served by the new model. Gotham Gazette visited the 79th Precinct in Western Bedford-Stuyvesant on Monday, July 27, to see the rollout of the program and to speak with residents about their reaction to the new policing

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  • Without Key Stakeholders, Administration Supports Council Police Misconduct Bill

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    Council Member Jumaane Williams (photo: William Alatriste)


    The City Council’s Committee on Oversight and Investigations heard a bill on Tuesday, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, which would require centralized reporting of data on police misconduct from multiple agencies to identify systemic problems and help create an early intervention system for the NYPD. To the disappointment of Williams and others, though, key stakeholders to be affected by the bill and instrumental in implementing it if it becomes law, were not

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  • Council to Hear One of Two Police Accountability Bills

    NYPD training

    photo via @NYPDNews


    NOTE: this article was originally published June 7, but the hearing discussed was postponed to June 28; it has been edited to refllect the new date and other recent news

    Following on the heels of passing the Criminal Justice Reform Act, which diverts the prosecution of a number of low-level nonviolent offenses to civil rather than criminal avenues, the City Council will hear a bill on Tuesday that also addresses criminal justice reform, but this time by targeting bad actors within

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  • Demanding Justice is Not a 'War on Cops'

    NYPD sidewalk park cars

    photo: Sofie Hecht, Gotham Gazette


    The Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald has a new book out Tuesday that claims that there is a “War on Cops,” led by the Black Lives Matter movement and anyone else who ever called for reductions in excessive, heavy-handed, or brutal policing.

    Mac Donald’s basic point is that the police merely take action in response to actual levels of crime and disorder and that by doing so they save lives. Anyone who accuses them of racist motivations or outcomes misses the fact that

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  • City Council Passes Criminal Justice Reform Act

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    NYPD Commissioner Bratton with officers (photo: @CommissBratton)


    The City Council voted on Wednesday to pass the Criminal Justice Reform Act, a package of eight bills largely aimed at diverting low-level nonviolent offenses from criminal to civil matters.

    Offenses such as public urination, littering, drinking alcohol in public, and being in a park after hours are currently enforced as criminal misdemeanors and prosecuted in criminal courts, at times resulting in permanent criminal records for offenders. Under these bills, spearheaded by Council

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  • City Council to Pass Reforms Aimed at Broken Windows Policing

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    City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alariste)


    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’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

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  • NYPD 'Peace Dividend' Reveals Truth About Unnecessary Arrests

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    Commissioner Bratton and others (photo via @NYPDnews)


    Last May, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton issued a 41-page report extolling the virtues of Broken Windows and quality-of-life policing, and promoted what he termed a “peace dividend” of “nearly a million fewer enforcement contacts like arrests, summonses, and reasonable-suspicion stops when compared to their respective highs.” He explained further in a letter to City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito: “there has been a drastic reduction in enforcement contacts between police and citizens, a benefit of lower

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  • Could a Doorman Have Saved Akai Gurley’s Life?

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    A NYCHA building entrance (photo via NYCHA on flickr)


    Protests recently broke out in response to the sentencing of former police officer Peter Liang to five years of community service for the killing of Akai Gurley. Officer Liang’s criminal behavior in a stairwell in Brooklyn’s Pink Houses might have been less professional than some of his more experienced peers, but he was hardly an extreme outlier. He wasn’t even the first officer to shoot a totally innocent person by mistake during a vertical patrol. In 1994, thirteen-year-old ...

  • The Adversarial Justice Court

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    Back in the early 1990s, there was a bar association forum devoted to the nascent and growing problem-solving court movement. After I raised some questions about the “we’re all in this together” premise of the courts, one of the advocates pointedly asked me, “Do you really believe that the adversarial Criminal Court is working?” “I couldn’t say,” I replied. “I’ve yet to see an adversarial court.” That remains the case today.

    Even though the nation’s Criminal Courts since their inception have been described as assembly lines processing defendants through quick and dirty guilty pleas,

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  • Community Engagement Prized by Participatory Budgeting Proponents

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    Council Member Menchaca with a constituent (photo: William Alatriste)


    For City Council Member Carlos Menchaca and his staff, the Participatory Budgeting Vote Week that just ended was the culmination of a year-long effort to encourage project proposals and votes from communities that are traditionally excluded from politics. Through PB, community members decide how $1-2 million in funding is allocated toward neighborhood improvements. Menchaca’s district, which includes immigrant-rich Brooklyn neighborhoods of Sunset Park and Red Hook, is one

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  • Push for a Better Mayor's Management Report Continues

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    The City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations held an oversight hearing on Wednesday to evaluate the structure and content of two annual city reports that measure everything from the wait times on 311 calls and the conditions of city parks to the number of unsheltered homeless people and traffic crashes in the city each year. These key performance indicators help the City Council and the public keep city agencies and offices accountable. Those agencies, in turn, rely on these reports to improve their policies and functioning.

    The administration

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 4

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    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

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  • Government Investigator Explains 43% Budget Bump

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    DOI Commissioner Mark Peters (photo: @DOInews)


    The New York City Department of Investigation has become a more proactive body focusing on systemic problems at city agencies, said Commissioner Mark Peters at a City Council budget hearing on Monday afternoon. Peters explained his office's increased productivity and impact in attempting to justify a nearly 43 percent increase in the department's budget for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1.

    The City Council's evaluation of Mayor Bill de Blasio's $82 billion preliminary budget is now in its second week and administration

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  • Ten Days in the Life of a Police Reform Advocate

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    PROP volunteers, including the author (photo: @PROPNYC)


    In a recent ten-day period I had experiences that taught me new things about bad NYPD practices, reinforced my cynicism about the lame way that mainstream politicians, including officials who self-identify as progressives, posture on policing issues, and strengthened my determination to press aggressively for fundamental and meaningful changes in NYPD policies. My organization, PROP - the Police Reform Organizing

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  • Peter Liang’s Conviction Shouldn't Be Dividing the Asian American Community

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    (Diana Robinson/Mayoral Photography Office) 


    Rookie New York Police Department Officer Peter Liang was on patrol in an East New York housing project in November 2014 when a bullet from his gun ricocheted off a wall and killed 28-year-old Akai Gurley, a black man. The uproar over Gurley’s death culminated in Liang’s conviction of second-degree manslaughter this month, provoking an unusually strong but

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  • 'Making A Murderer' Flaws All Around Us

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    photo via Making A Murderer on Twitter


    The Netflix documentary "Making A Murderer" challenges the moral core of our criminal justice system: that the police and prosecutors are objective and unbiased. The film follows Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who spent 18 years in prison for rape before being exonerated, then arrested for murder two years later, found guilty, and sentenced to life in prison. The highly questionable police methods—a key piece of evidence miraculously appears; an improbable confession

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  • Muslim Immigrant Family of NYPD Captain to Lead Pledge of Allegiance at State of the City

    altaheri parents

    Jamiel and Sameha Altaheri


    When Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his third State of the City address tonight at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx, he will focus on a message of unity and inclusiveness. The theme this year, "One New York: Working for Every Neighborhood," will highlight the administration's accomplishments in fighting inequality, improving quality of life and working for the future, while also outlining new initiatives.

    A large part of creating "One New York" has been the mayor's support for the

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  • Criminal Justice Reform Act is No Alternative to Broken Windows Policing

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    NYPD ceremony in Times Square (photo: @CommissBratton)


    Monday morning the City Council will begin consideration of a series of bills, called the Criminal Justice Reform Act, 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.

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  • 'Dangerousness' Aspect of Cuomo's Bail Plan Troubles Reformers

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    Gov. Cuomo delivers his State of the State


    In his recently-released policy agenda for 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo included a plan to reform the state's bail system. While it has not been fully fleshed out yet, Cuomo's proposal dictates that judges would use a scientific assessment tool to determine an individual's "risk to public safety" while setting bail, a proposal similar to one Mayor Bill de Blasio recently made, with both coming under fire from criminal justice reformers.

    De Blasio made ...

  • To Combat Increase in Reported Rapes, Experts Point to Prevention

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    City Coucil Member Laurie Cumbo leads a press conference (photo: William Alatriste)


    Reported rapes are on the rise in New York City. Despite an overall downward trend in felony crime, 2015 saw a 6.3 percent increase in the number of rapes reported, up to 1,439 from 1,354. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and others have attributed this

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  • City to Open Gun Courts to Expedite Prosecutions

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    A gun bust (photo: @NYCMayorsOffice)


    In an effort to reduce gun violence and gun-related crimes, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says the city intends to create specialized “gun courts” in each of the five boroughs. Gun courts will expedite the handling of gun-related cases to more quickly identify and imprison those who use guns illegally.

    The head of the Citizens Crime Commission, Richard Aborn, has been working on the initiative for several months, leading toward an upcoming announcement, Bratton said during a radio interview

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  • More Evidence Punitive NYPD Youth Programs Fail

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    (photo via @NYPDnews)

     


     

    This week the New York Times revealed the content of an internal NYPD report showing that a much lauded juvenile crime program doesn’t work. It’s yet another example of misguided punitive policing, offering little by way of actual progress.

    Originally developed under the title

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