The city’s five police unions Monday said the surge in gun violence will only get worse unless the bail reform laws are changed — and elected officials worry more about protecting New Yorkers than trying to reform the NYPD.
“Our cops on the street warned us that it was happening,” Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said at a press conference, referring to a startling spike in gun violence in 2020 and so far this year. “We warned the politicians that this won’t work. Violence will rise.
“And it has.”
Bail reform took effect at the start of 2020, and even though it was later amended, critics said too many crimes are still not eligible for bail and too many repeat offenders, including those charged with gun possession, are automatically freed at arraignment because judges do not have the discretion to order them held or to set high bail.
Last year, murders jumped 47%, to 468 from 319 in 2019. The number of people shot, 1,868, more than doubled from 923 in 2019.
This year is only marginally better: 68 murders compared to 66 at this time in 2020, with 227 people shot, a 42% rise from 160 last year.
The union leaders spoke at a lower Manhattan press conference a day before a City Council hearing at which a raft of proposed NYPD reform ideas will be discussed.
The reforms — including a city residency requirement for cops and ways to combat racial bias in policing — are required to answer Gov. Cuomo’s mandate that cities submit reform plans by April 1 or risk the loss of state funding or the possibility of a monitor to oversee the NYPD.
But even as the union leaders said a fairer justice system is worth pursuing they said it should not be at the cost of demonizing police.
“Yes, we want justice for all,” Lynch said. “Even justice for the criminal — we want it done right. But with that we want safety. It’s not too late. Realize you’re going in the wrong direction. Turn around.”
Paul DiGiacomo, president of the Detectives Endowment Association, said it shouldn’t take continued violence to change the laws.
“How much blood needs to spill on our streets before our elected officials both in the city and state fix what they have broken?” he asked. “The lives of all New Yorkers depend on it.”
Also speaking out against bail reform was Randolph Holder Sr., whose son, Officer Randolph Holder Jr., was shot dead in East Harlem in 2015, before bail reform was even discussed; and Eve Hendricks, whose son, Brandon Hendricks, was shot dead in the Bronx by a stray bullet last year.
Both parents said it was important for elected officials to realize that laws that benefit criminals can have real-life consequences.
“It’s going to be a long hot summer,” said Lou Turco, head of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association.