New York City Mayor Eric Adams and police department heads slammed the state’s bail reform laws as "insane" and "dangerous" amid an increase in arrests and a series of high-profile attacks on law enforcement and the public.
New York Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell joined Adams and other NYPD officials for a press conference Wednesday at NYPD headquarters, where she spoke of "the challenges we are facing in New York City every day."
They say the definition of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly, but expect different results
"This is about recidivists who cause New Yorkers to suffer needlessly. Every day, as hardworking New Yorkers start their day or night of work or school, or to simply enjoy what this city has to offer, recidivist criminals are planning or taking the opportunity to commit their next larceny, robbery, burglary or other crime," Sewell said. "Their efforts are increasingly aided by the fact that after the NYPD has arrested them, the criminal justice system fails to hold them appropriately accountable for their actions. These offenders face very few, if any, repercussions, despite committing crime after crime."
The city’s top cop added that the number of crime victims "continues to go up."
"Your NYPD officers speak to these victims. We support them and proudly go to work for them with every resource we have," she continued. "But for too many of these victims, justice is elusive. Justice and fairness go hand in hand. Public service has to work together on behalf of all of the people we serve."
Sewell noted that New York remains the only state with a law that prevents judges from considering an offender’s potential threat to public safety when making custody decisions.
"That doesn't serve the next innocent victim," she said. "It doesn't serve our officers, and it doesn't serve quality of life. We can and must do better."
Mayor Adams stressed that this was not "a battle against those who saw the need to reform a criminal justice system," but one "against those who are exploiting those reforms."
Adams said there were "four components of the criminal justice process: police, judges, prosecutors, lawmakers" and they must "operate in unison."
He said NYPD arrests have increased by more than 24% as of Aug. 1, with 109,000 arrests this year compared to the 87,794 arrests during the same time in 2021. Arrests for the seven major crimes are up about 29%, he said.
Weapons arrests are at a 27-year high, while the number of murders and shootings is down for the year, he said.
"What’s not working," the mayor added, "are the other three pieces."
"They say the definition of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly, but expect different results," Adams told reporters. "Our criminal justice system is insane. It is dangerous, it's harmful, and it's destroying the fabric of our city. Time and time again, our police officers make an arrest and then the person who is arrested for assault, felonious assault, robberies and gun possession is finding themselves back on the street within days — if not hours — after the arrest. And they go on to commit more crimes within weeks, if not days."
He acknowledged that there may be other needed reforms, and said this was not an attack on those, but added: "This is about a small number of people that are taking advantage of the existing laws to endanger our city."
NYPD’s Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LiPetri said investigators have identified 716 people who are behind an estimated 30% of the roughly 2,400 shootings since 2021.
"We know who they are," he said.
Fifty-four percent of those 716 people — 385 individuals — have an open felony, he said.
"That's 0.008% of the New York City population responsible for 30 percent of the shootings in New York City over the past year and a half."