NYCs next mayor will struggle to overturn hard-left criminal-justice reforms

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‘Disastrous’ bail reform was factor in NYC crime spike: ex-NYPD commissioner

Letters to the Editor — June 12, 2021

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Violent crime in New York City is soaring: Murder is up 11.7 percent over last year; shootings, a staggering 68 percent. And it’s likely here to stay

Don’t blame poverty or the pandemic: Squalid arguments and score-settling continue to motivate most gun violence. A long-standing squabble over parking apparently led to the recent killing of 10-year-old Justin Wallace. An obscure beef between Farrakhan Muhammad and his brother allegedly precipitated a daylight shooting spree in Times Square last month. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio resolutely ­deflects responsibility for the horrific rise in crime, now ­entering its second year. He insists — ludicrously — that his “Cure Violence” program, which he touts annually and which has at best a track record of no impact, will fix everything.

So it’s no accident that New Yorkers are counting the days till this bad dream is over, nor that the leading mayoral candidates are the ones who promise to make public safety a priority.

Voters hope that, once de Blasio is gone, the new mayor will restore a New York City where ordinary people feel secure taking the subway alone at night, without worrying that someone will slash their faces with a box cutter. 

Not so fast. De Blasio has been a terrible mayor, having wrecked a safe and prosperous city. But he didn’t act alone. His cronies and comrades in the City Council and state Legislature have substantially and systematically refashioned the law to ensure that criminals will have the upper hand, while law enforcers are hobbled.

These legal changes won’t soon or easily be undone.

In 2014, de Blasio dropped the city’s appeal against several spurious, anti-anti-crime suits pertaining to patrolling and instead submitted to the ­supervision of an outside “NYPD Monitor.” The monitor oversees training and procedures, audits the NYPD’s patrol practices and ­reports to the federal court on progress toward its goals. 

Some of the measures implemented under the monitor, such as body cameras, have been salutary. But others — such as the elimination of the Trespass Affidavit Program, which helped keep drug dealers, loiterers and other miscreants out of private apartment buildings — appear to have contributed to the crime problem. 

Then, in 2016, the council passed — and the mayor signed — a major set 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 closing. Then-Councilman and now Rep. ­Ritchie Torres, a supporter of the legislation, joked about opponents’ fears of a coming “apocalypse of public urination.” 

Smelled the streets much lately, Congressman? 

The council also passed the 2018 Right to Know Act, which short-circuits the cops’ constitutionally protected ability to conduct searches. The law, unique in the nation, forces cops to tell suspects that they are not obligated to consent to being searched, effectively making the police act as legal advisers, working against themselves and for evildoers. No doubt many guns have remained concealed as perps were told they could walk away. 

At the state level, bail ­“reform” has allowed thousands of criminals to leave their ­arraignments and go out to commit more crime, often in a matter of 24 hours. Discovery “reform” has led to fewer witnesses coming forward to report what they have seen, since they know that their personal information will be immediately turned over to the defense. 

Meanwhile, the so-called diaphragm law and the end to qualified immunity have put cops on notice that they risk criminal and civil jeopardy for attempting to detain violent, resisting perps.

The effect — and intent — has been to shackle the law, to privilege the lawless over the law-abiding. And the vast extent of the measures, spread across municipal and state law, means that restoring sanity will be an epic, uphill battle. 

This isn’t to say that the next mayor will have no 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 several steps ahead of the game, has already codified chaos by reconfiguring the legal system. 

Seth Barron is managing editor of The American Mind and ­author of “The Last Days of New York.” Twitter: @SethBarronNYC

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