It’s a reset.
After a month of critics defining him as soft on crime at the time when the city is grappling with it, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been making the rounds to reverse that image.
“Unquestionably, in this moment, the number one priority for the office in guns,” he told ABNY, or the Association for a Better New York, on Wednesday.
“We now have to meet the moment,” he told the Coro New York Leadership Center a day earlier, stressing this recognition: “Gun violence is up, we’ve seen a spike in domestic violence, we’re seeing violence on the trains, we’re seeing housing instability.”
Bragg secondarily has been conveying that he remains intent on driving down incarceration rates as he drives down gun crime.
“We’ve got to do this in a way that is data-driven and smart on crime,” he said. “We know that the drivers of violence — nationally, where we’ve seen an uptick, and also locally — are a staggeringly small percentage of people.”
The new top prosecutor’s public remarks this week came after he released a memo last week stating, “The default in gun cases is a felony prosecution.”
That memo came after he acknowledged bungling the rollout of his convoluted Day One memo, which was seized upon by police unions and many others for scapegoating but which was consistent with the progressive approaches he pitched as a candidate.
Bragg said he’s been listening to police and business leaders and other stakeholders.
“The perception of safety really is driving things and so really sitting down and telling people what I’m doing, what I’m planning to do, I think, is so important,” he said.
He cited an approach that tracks with what Mayor Eric Adams proposed for the district attorneys’ role in his plan to end gun violence.
“A lot of stating my ideas and a lot of stress-testing them, but also a lot of, a lot of listening,” Bragg said, adding: “And a bit of triage and a bit of sort of what is the number one and I think right now the number one is guns.”
Adams and Bragg have had only diplomatic words for each other publicly.
Bragg’s counterpart, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, a fellow progressive, has been sympathetic to Bragg.
“Shootings went up in jurisdictions that had tough-on-crime prosecutors as well as places that had more progressive prosecutors,” Gonzalez said Tuesday on WNYC.
To be sure, Bragg’s pivot has been met with criticism from left-leaning groups.
The Envision Freedom Fund and 5Boro Defenders both accused him of what they said was capitulating to fear-mongering.