The city’s top uniformed cop blamed the spike in city gun violence on bail reform, anti-police rhetoric and the coronavirus epidemic Tuesday.
“There’s a lot to this, you know,” Chief of Department Terence Monahan said on 1010 WINS radio after he was asked about the shooting spike.
“It starts early on with releases from Rikers (Island) going into bail reform, COVID where we were letting people out,” he said referring to reforms enacted Jan. 1 that prevent the pretrial detention of suspects charged with most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies — as well as the release of vulnerable inmates over fears of the pandemic spreading in jails.
The NYPD’s public information office could not immediately say how many bail-reform or coronavirus-release beneficiaries had committed shootings this year. In March, the NYPD revealed that suspects released under bail reform had allegedly committed 299 major crimes — accounting roughly 1.8-percent of the city’s overall crime at the time. None were reportedly shootings — though there was one alleged murder htat police wuld not provide details on.
Meanwhile, cops said earlier this month that about 10 percent of the 2,500 inmates let out of Rikers to stanch the pandemic have been arrested for committing about 450 crimes. Roughly 39,400 crimes had been reported at the time, NYPD data shows.
In addition, Monahan said no grand juries are sitting so people arrested for serious crimes can’t be indicted, including “over 800 who’ve been arrested for possession of guns that can’t be indicted,” he said.
“The idea of the court system since the start of COVID has been shut down. That means no cases are moving forward, people arrested for serious crimes are being let out because judges don’t want to keep them in when they’re not sure if a case is going to move forward,” he said, referring to the logjam of court hearings caused by coronavirus-related closures.
He also laid blame on anti-police-brutality protests.
“You take that into the George Floyd protests, the animosity against the police officers right now that is building throughout this city,” he said. “City Council members who believe that you know we should do no quality of life enforcement at all. Going into some of these reform bills that have been passed, the chokehold bill which is you know really troublesome if you’re a police officer.”
He specified that the last part of that bill says “if you’re fighting for your life and you put your knee on someone’s back during that fight you can be arrested for a misdemeanor.”
“You know, it makes a police officer have to take a step back when they’re looking to lock somebody up I mean,” he explained. “That bill was really not thought out well.”
The holds were already banned by the department, but the new law opened the door for criminal charges.
Monahan said the NYPD talked to City Council members about their concerns but that even members who agreed refused to speak up.
“We spoke to one who said it was worded wrong, but none of them wanted to take the lead and be the one that would be seen as watering down police reform,” he said.
Monahan also said changes in the NYPD had started in 2014, which is the year Eric Garner was killed by a cop in a chokehold on Staten Island.
“We’ve been around change ever since 2014 this agency has been changing, but change has to be reasonable,” he said. “You have to look at it and not go to extremes. There is a balance and that’s what we need to find. The balance of how we’re going to reform this agency and how we’ve already reformed this agency without going too far to weakening police that could lead to such an uptick in shootings that we’ve seeking right now.”
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