AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
After a surge in crime throughout 2021, former police chief Eric Adams was swept into the New York City mayor’s office last November on promises to end the epidemic of violence plaguing the city’s streets. But so far in 2022, the results of those efforts have been mixed at best; although murders are down 11% compared to the same time period last year, shootings are up nearly 10%, robberies are up a whopping 48%, and overall crime is up 44%. Mayor Adams has identified New York’s progressive “bail reform” laws as one cause for the continuing crime wave – but legislators in Albany and City Hall have shown no signs of reversing course.
Adams highlighted the truly devastating effect of New York’s decision to effectively end cash bail back in 2019 during an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation earlier this month. According to NYPD police data, almost 70% of the more than 100 arrests made by the city’s new anti-gun unit have prior violent offenses – and almost two thirds of those arrested for illegal possession of a firearm had a prior conviction as well. The most recent example of this was the New York City subway shooting that occurred last week, in which the perpetrator had multiple prior arrests for violent crimes, but was repeatedly let go thanks to progressive criminal justice “reforms.”
These numbers beg the question of why so many dangerous felons were allowed back onto the streets, and what can be done to prevent these individuals from continuing to terrorize the country’s largest city.
Since assuming office earlier this year, Adams has taken at least some action to address the issue. After the NYPD’s plainclothes unit was disbanded in 2020, Adams established a revamped version of the program called “Neighborhood Safety Teams” (NST). While the NST has a specific mission of getting illegal guns off the streets, the unit also has a broader goal of becoming ingrained in communities and deterring crime before it occurs.
Unsurprisingly, Adams’s decision was met with severe backlash from Defund the Police advocates and progressive criminal justice “reform” activists. Soon after Adams released his strategy to combat crime last November, a New York Black Lives Matter movement leader threatened that if Adams went ahead with his plans, “There will be riots. There will be fire, and there will be bloodshed.”
Nonetheless, Adams did plow forward, and has often appeared following shooting incidents like the tragic death of a 12-year-old boy earlier this month to reiterate the need to be tougher on crime. But critics say rhetoric alone isn’t enough, as is evidenced by crime numbers continuing to rise – something which even Adams himself seems to agree with.
In an interview with ABC News earlier this week, Adams explicitly blamed woke progressives for the city’s crime problem, saying that we “can’t rebuild that trust [with communities] by allowing those who are dangerous and that have a repeated history of violence to continue to be on our streets” – a clear rebuke of the state’s bail reform laws. Adams also agreed with former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton’s statements that progressive policies had led to an increase in crime in Democrat-run cities.
To be sure, Adams isn’t getting much help from City Hall or the state government. Adams described one incident to illustrate this fact, in which NST officers arrested 20-year-old gang member David Echevarria for illegal possession of a firearm. This was Echevarria’s third gun-related arrest in less than a year, in addition to an attempted murder charge from 2020, a robbery that involved him stabbing a victim in 2019, and a carjacking at gunpoint in 2018. Each time, Echevarria was released back onto the street thanks to New York’s soft-on-crime policies. “This is what we are fighting against,” Adams said of Echevarria, calling him the “poster child” for the problems NYPD is facing. “That’s what this battle is about. We’re going to continue to take the guns off the street, but we need help.”
But it looks as if Adams can’t expect help from many other elected Democrats in the state anytime soon. Last year, the City Council actually voted to make it easier to sue individual cops for actions taken while on the job, targeting law enforcement instead of criminals. Democratic lawmakers in Albany have also rebuffed Adams’s pleas for changes to New York’s bail reform laws, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul in January rejected calls to allow judges to detain pre-trial suspects deemed dangerous behind bars.
As outrage over rising crime continues to mount, so too will the pressure on lawmakers to enact changes. But given their stubborn refusal thus far to do anything about a crisis they created, it may be that the progressives who run New York are already too committed to their twisted vision of “reform” to correct course. If that is indeed the case, they may have a rude awakening at the ballot box next time they have to face the voters whose lives they have so needlessly endangered.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.
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