NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell admitted Sunday that people are ‘taking advantage’ of bail reform laws backed by Democrats in the state capital of Albany, while also lamenting that the ‘perception of feeling unsafe’ remains in the Big Apple despite the number of shootings and homicides being ‘down by the double digits.’
‘What do you say to those who still look at New York City as an unsafe hellscape where not only are the residents cowering in fear, but anyone who visits should cower,’ MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart asked the commissioner on ‘The Sunday Show.’
For the first quarter of 2022, New York City was down in five of the major crime categories, Sewell noted.
‘The numbers mean one thing, but when we talk about the numbers, we have to understand that the numbers actually represent people, and that’s what matters,’ the commissioner said. ‘And if those people don’t feel safe in this city, that’s something we have to address as well. It’s not just a matter of making sure they are safe. It’s a matter of making sure they feel that safety as well. When people live in a safe city, they don’t think about it. When they feel as if though the city isn’t safe, that’s all they think about.’
‘And the mayor and I made sure that we took all of our partners to make sure that we address that perception, feeling of being unsafe,’ Sewell said. ‘And that’s not just the responsibility of the police department. That’s a responsibility for everyone. We say all the time that public safety is a shared responsibility. We work with social services, mental health professionals, the department of sanitation, because all of these things come into play when you’re making a city safe, and you’re making a city a place people feel they want to visit and work’
‘Bail reform is specifically mentioned by Republicans in this conversation. But your office is working to stem recidivism. Am I correct?’ Capehart asked.
‘Recidivism is our focus. There are a limited number of people in this city that continue to commit a disproportionate number of crimes,’ Sewell said. ‘But I think when we talk about bail reform, we use that term, but it’s really criminal justice reform. There are a number of that legislation that present challenges for us and the criminal justice system in New York City as a whole. So while we are focused on recidivism, I have said over and over again that judges should have the ability to determine whether someone is a public safety threat, when they determine whether they should remand, set bail, or release.’
‘I think those reforms were well-meaning, but there are people taking advantage of those reforms, and it’s causing detriment to our city,’ the commissioner added.
For the month of February 2023, overall index crime compared to February 2022 declined by 5.6% – driving a 0.4% reduction in overall index crime year-to-date compared to 2022, the NYPD said in a press release on March 3. February 2023 also saw the number of overall shooting incidents and murders in New York City both continue their week-over-week and month-over-month declines. Additionally, the number of hate crimes in New York City declined by 69% in February 2023 compared to the same period a year ago.
Citywide shooting incidents decreased in February by 14.7%, the NYPD said, further extending the double-digit declines of 2022 driven by steep reductions in the Bronx, Queens, and Northern Manhattan. Notably, the NYPD has driven a 10.5% decrease in citywide robberies in February 2023.
‘We worked together with our partners, our DAs, our communities, our businesses to make sure we input precision policing to be able to go to the drivers of crime and those people who willingly commit crimes, who willingly possess illegal guns and use them against the people of this city,’ Sewell said. ‘So a number of things came into play. We have a gun violence strategies partnership. They meet every single day to go over the shootings and the arrests to be able to put forth the strongest cases possible for prosecution to be able to hold these people accountable, to be able to make sure they are suffering the consequences for their actions.’
New York City Mayor Eric Adams spoke of the crime rate in the Big Apple during a Friday appearance on CNN. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a field hearing in New York on Monday led by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. CNN host Don Lemon noted that the hearing is intended to focus on how Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s policies have led to an increase in violent crime and dangerous communities for New York City residents. Bragg’s office is responsible for the indictment of former President Donald Trump.
‘New York City crime is really trending in the right direction. Shootings are down, homicides are down,’ Adams said in response. ‘We’re going up to the seven majors. If anything, he should be in a conversation with Police Commissioner Sewell to find out what we’re doing here. But this is really a charade, and it’s just unfortunate, during a time like this, they will use taxpayers dollars to host this charade.’