It’s been a month since Mayor Bill de Blasio signed controversial police reform legislation into law.
It officially banned the use of chokeholds by police, and made it a crime if a police officer applied pressure to someone’s diaphragm. The NYPD vehemently opposed the bill.
Because of that law and the protests that preceded it, some officials claim the police are no longer doing their job.
“The PBA [Police Benevolent Association] and the police department do not have a right to act on pieces of legislation the Council passes that they don’t like in an active slowdown, because that’s certainly what we are feeling on the ground,” said Queens Councilman Donovan Richards, who is the Democratic nominee for borough president.
“I believe the numbers are indicating there is some form of job action,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said. “This is not a time to state we are going to take out what we disagree with Albany or the Council or the public. We must protect the public.”
The head of the Council’s public safety committee told NY1 he would be willing to amend the chokehold bill if it meant the NYPD would "get back to work."
“I would be open to having a conversation about the diaphragm portion of the chokehold bill if this means the New York City Police Department would get back to work. And I don’t want to hear excuses,” said Richards, the chair of the committee.
For weeks, crime data from the NYPD have shown the same thing: arrests are down.
This year to date, they have decreased about 39 percent.
For murder, it was down 9.5 percent. For robbery, 11.1 percent. And gun arrests were down 16.5 percent last week compared to the same period in 2019.
This is happening as shooting incidents were up more than 153 percent over the last 28 days.
The mayor and the police commissioner have denied there is a slowdown.
When we asked the police officers’ union, we were sent this statement:
"New York City police officers are doing our job exactly as directed. Mayor de Blasio has touted the NYPD's reductions in arrests for years. The City Council passed a law that made it impossible to safely arrest a resisting criminal. It's baffling that anybody would expect police officers to step up arrests when our city leaders have made it clear they want fewer arrests and less enforcement, not more.”
Experts say this may not be an official slowdown, but a morale problem.
“I don’t agree that there is an organized slowdown by the police right now,” said Christopher Herrmann of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “I think what you see is the police are just a little more hesitant on being proactive and I think there are a lot of reasons that they should be a little hesitant about being proactive.”
“The only person likely to become a felon from an arrest now is a police officer, in the mind of the officer. That’s how stilted the conversation has gotten,” said Eugene O'Donnell, also of John Jay College.
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