New York’s next mayor will struggle to overturn criminal justice “reforms”
Violent crime in New York City is skyrocketing: murders increased 11.7% from last year; shootings, a staggering 68 percent. And it’s probably here to stay
Don’t blame poverty or the pandemic: sordid arguments and settling of scores continue to motivate most gun violence. A long-standing feud over parking apparently led to the recent murder of 10-year-old Justin Wallace. An obscure bullock between Farrakhan Muhammad and his brother allegedly precipitated a daytime shootout in Times Square last month.
Mayor Bill de Blasio resolutely takes responsibility for the horrific increase in crime, which is now entering its second year. He insists – ridiculously – on the fact that his program “Cure Violence”, which he praises every year and which has at best a record without impact, will fix everything.
So it’s no coincidence that New Yorkers are counting the days until the end of this bad dream, nor that the top mayoral candidates are those who promise to make public safety a priority.
Voters hope that once de Blasio leaves, the new mayor will restore a New York City where ordinary people will feel safe riding the subway alone at night, without fear of someone slicing their faces with a cutter. .
Not so fast. De Blasio was a terrible mayor, having destroyed a safe and prosperous city. But he did not act alone. His cronies and comrades in the city council and state legislature have dramatically and systematically reshaped the law to ensure criminals get the upper hand, while law enforcement is hampered.
These legal changes will not be quickly or easily reversed.
In 2014, de Blasio dropped the city’s appeal against several bogus patrol-related crime prosecutions and instead submitted to the supervision of an outside “NYPD monitor”. The instructor oversees training and procedures, verifies NYPD patrol practices, and reports to the Federal Court on progress toward their goals.
Some of the measures implemented under the monitor, such as body cameras, have been beneficial. But others, such as the elimination of the Trespass Affidavit Program, which has kept drug traffickers, vagrants and other criminals away from private apartment buildings, appear to have contributed to the crime problem.
Then, in 2016, the council adopted – and the mayor signed – a major package of “reforms” that have contributed to the deterioration of safe streets and the quality of life.
The measures effectively decriminalized “open containers”, urinating in public, littering and hanging out in parks after closure. The then councilor and now law-advocate Rep. Ritchie Torres joked about opponents’ fears of an upcoming “public urination apocalypse.”
Have you been smelling the streets a lot lately, Congressman?
The council also passed the Right to Know Law of 2018, which bypasses the constitutionally protected ability of cops to conduct searches. The law, unique in the country, requires cops to tell suspects that they are not required to consent to be searched, thus forcing the police to act as legal advisers, working against themselves and for criminals. There is no doubt that many guns remained hidden as the criminals were told they could leave.
At the state level, bail “reform” has allowed thousands of criminals to drop charges and commit more crimes, often within 24 hours. The discovery “reform” has led to fewer witnesses reporting what they saw because they know their personal information will immediately be passed on to the defense.
Meanwhile, the so-called Diaphragm Law and the end of qualified immunity have warned cops that they risk criminal and civil risks for attempting to detain violent and resilient criminals.
The effect – and the intention – has been to obstruct the law, to privilege the lawless over the law-abiding ones. And the vast scope of the measures, spread across municipal and state laws, means that restoring sanity will be an epic and uphill battle.
That’s not to say the next mayor won’t have options or shouldn’t try like hell to make the streets safe again. He or she must. But it will take extraordinary will and political courage, because the hard left in New York, always with several steps ahead, has already codified the chaos by reconfiguring the judicial system.
Seth Barron is editor-in-chief of The American Mind and author of “The Last Days of New York”. Twitter: @SethBarronNYC