This afternoon Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton held a press conference at NYPD headquarters to celebrate what de Blasio called a “momentous” decrease in crime, and give specifics on some of the lowest crime rates ever recorded in the city. But the Mayor also took the opportunity to extend yet another olive branch to the police department and became visibly emotional with his closing remarks when he emphasized the need for a return to a productive working relationship. He insisted, “The people want us to come together […] the people believe that we can do better.”
The Mayor argued that a “positive vision will prevail over the negatives voices,” and pleaded with the NYPD: “Rather than get lost in the daily back-and-forth by the loudest and most disrespectful voices–those that have been so loud in recent weeks–let’s talk about where we need to go as a city. Let’s talk about a positive vision […] where the city and the police are partners working together.”
While praising the NYPD for its work, de Blasio also pointed out that a drop in crime rates coincided with the stepping up of some of his polices. “We have seen substantial decreases in the stop-and-frisk approach and low-level marijuana arrests,” he said. “A lot of change is happening, and at the same time the city is becoming safer.”
Commissioner Bratton also spoke about the newly released crime stats, while repeatedly making reference to what the city was like when he first came to the department as Commissioner back in the 1990s, “back then, you had a 1 in 15 chance of being a victim of a serious crime, today [that number is] 1 in 84 in a city that now has 8.4 million people living in it.”
Bratton said over the years the city has seen “dramatic, dramatic declines” in crime rates, arguing that New York City’s crime levels “are some of the best in the nation.” The commissioner also took time to praise the Mayor for the significant funding his administration has allocated to the police department.
The efforts to make amends with rank-and-file NYPD officers comes after a weekend of increased tensions after some cops once again turned their backs on the Mayor, this time at the funeral of Officer Wenjian Liu on Sunday. The protest came after Bratton asked officers not to turn their backs on the Mayor. Pro-NYPD groups have also stepped up their efforts to stir up opposition to the Mayor.
For the second week in a row, the city has seen a dramatic decline in the number of arrests. The Times reported that the NYPD was found to be “arresting less than half as many people and writing more than 90 percent fewer summonses than in the same period a year ago.” According to police officials, the drop in enforcement is a result of the “mourning period after the officers’ murders, as well as to the continued large-scale assignments to cover potential protests over police practices.” But the advice from NYPD union leader Patrick Lynch to officers urging them to put their own safety first, appears to be the root of the trend.
While the NYPD has declined to abide by business-as-usual, they have also inadvertently dropped off enforcement of Bratton’s controversial “Broken Windows” policy. Regardless, lower crime rates have persisted in the effective absence of Broken Windows policing. One reported asked if the lack of enforcement was a matter of concern for Bratton. The commissioner responded that he was preparing a “comprehensive review” of the impact “recent controversies” are having on the department and crime rates, but insisted: “Broken Windows is here to stay […] we are not going back to that period of time [the 90s] ever again.”
The Mayor chimed in, pledging his support for the policy. “We could never have imagined these kinds of numbers,” he said. “They are the result of the Broken Windows approach– that’s why I believe in it […] It’s a strategy that has worked.”