January 12, 2016
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much, Richard. Richard, thank you, your leadership of the Citizens Crime Commission has made a big difference for this city. One of the reasons, in this city, we constantly innovate is because of Richard, because the Citizens Crime Commission pushing us always to do better. So, you have been a great voice and a great leader, helping us to be the great we can be. Thank you, Richard, for all of your leadership.
I want the people in New York City, who get to see this report, who get to see these pictures to realize, look – look around, these are the people who keep you safe every day, all in one room, which is a rarity. These are the people who keep you safe. These are the people who have devoted their lives to your safety. These are people – the highest caliber anywhere in this nation. But, to Richard’s point, there were some things missing. One of the things missing was the closest possible collaboration between all these leaders and their offices. There have been many good instances where they’ve come together to achieve a specific goal, but there’s more to do. To knit this whole team together into a single unit – this is something Commissioner Bratton and I have talked about, even going back to when I was a candidate, seeking his advice. The power of collaboration – undoing some of the divisions and the walls that might have existed in the past. When we talk about fighting the scourge of guns, when we talk about fighting the scourge of terror, we think of our federal colleagues, our state colleagues, our local colleagues all as part of one unified team. And that is part of why people are becoming safer in this city – because all these energies are coming together.
The status quo that existed for too many years – and I think people in this audience know I’m not a big fan of much of the status quo – but the status quo allowed for divisions; it allowed for turf wars and separation. A few weeks back, I had the joy of being at the 35th anniversary of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and that was one of the places we celebrated what happens when those boundaries are stripped away, and people get on the same page – how much more powerful it is. We’re now taking another very big step in creating a common front against guns.
Now, let me just tell you, wherever I go in this city, there is such frustration about the presence of guns, so many of them outside this city, flowing in so freely because we don’t have the right laws in this country, and so many of our states don’t have the right laws. There’s so much frustration, that all these good people have to fight guns without the kind of support they deserve from better laws all over the country. But they get up in the morning every day and they do it, and they find ways to take guns off our streets nonetheless, and now we’re going able to do it even better.
Let me say, Commissioner Bratton and I talked about this a few weeks back. To his great credit, he has been a pilloried by many of those who want to keep the status quo of guns in this country the way it is – the NRA and others. We are going to fight every day to change that status quo as well. And I believe more and more, not only the people of this city – the people in this country are going to demand that change. So, none of us is going to take our eye off the ball – that we need systemic change on the gun issue. But while we’re fighting for that change, right here, right now, we’re doing something that will greatly improve our ability to get guns off the streets, keep them off the streets, get those who use guns and get them to prison where they belong.
We announced today a tremendous step forward in our work to drive down crime in this city. Now, I’m going to describe what this is, but I preface, very quickly, because I have to give credit to the extraordinary capacity of the NYPD, and the men and women of the NYPD. The last two years – and thank you, Commissioner Bratton, and your whole leadership team – in the last two years, overall major crime in this city – down 5.8 percent. The NYPD really deserves tremendous credit for what they’ve achieved all over this city. And if you take the bigger sweep of history over the last two decades – the last 22 years – shooting incidents have plummeted 78 percent in this city. Everyone around me deserves a piece of that credit – no one deserves it more than our cops on the beat – 78 percent reduction in shootings. But again, there is so much more to do to make our neighborhoods safer, and we know – and Commissioner Bratton, Chief O’Neill, Deputy Commissioner Shea have constantly reiterated this point – we know it is a very small number – several thousand people in this city who are the truly bad actors who account for so much of the gun violence. We have to do a better job at getting them, once and for all, off our streets. And today, we announce a major new initiative – Project Fast Track – will help us get those violent criminals off the streets, will help us get those guns out of circulation once and for all.
And it is unprecedented – it’s the first time in our city’s history that the city government, and all elements of law enforcement, and our court system will all work together to achieve a brand new approach to reducing gun violence. You’re going to hear from some of the folks who are here. I want to thank some others who deserve credit. Very quickly – of course, someone who helps to bring all the pieces together, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Liz Glazer. I want to thank from the City Council – the City Council has been so supportive of so many of the investments we’ve made – I want to thank Council Member Rory Lancman. I want to thank Robert Masters, who’s the executive assistant district attorney here on the behalf of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. I want to thank Bridget Brennan, the special narcotics prosecutor, for the important work she does; and, of course, Chief O’Neill, and all the NYPD leadership who are here.
We know this is the finest police force in the world, right here in this city. But we also know – and I know our officers take this very, very personally – every time – every time there’s a crime involving gun violence, it tears apart someone’s life. It can tear apart the life of a whole family. Even as we keep driving down crime, we feel the urgency to go farther to stop the next crime from happening, to reach deeper into our communities. Project Fast Track is one of the best ways to do that.
Let me tell you about three elements of this. First, we’ll cut the flow of illegal guns by expanding investigations into interstate gun trafficking. FBI – excuse me, NYPD will deepen its work with the FBI and the ATF to develop intelligence on illegal gun trafficking networks.
Second, when we see illegal gun crimes, investigations are going to be faster and more robust than they’ve been in the past. Those investigations will now largely be conducted by the NYPD’s new Gun Violence Suppression Division. This will be 200 officers dedicated to combating illegal firearm shootings and gangs. Again, this is a crucial new tool – our Gun Violence Suppression Division. The new division will, for the first time, assign a dedicated officer to every gun case from start to finish, so they’ll follow it through until it is concluded. And the division will conduct new, long-term investigations in the 15 precincts with the highest level of gun violence. The division’s task is very clear and simply to ensure that the most dangerous individuals in this city are behind bars, it’s as simply as that. And that, as I said before, is about collaboration with all the partners here as well.
Third point – when our district attorneys are ready to prosecute gun cases that they develop in conjunction with the NYPD, we’re going to fast-track those cases through the court system. We’re going to start in Brooklyn, and I want to thank DA Thompson for being such a leader in this initiative. The courts will set up a new dedicated gun court to handle those cases within six months. So, there’s a distinct timeframe that we set, and will hold to, to make sure these cases keep moving. We’ll also continue and deepen our cooperation with the U.S. attorneys for the southern, eastern districts in New York, with the ATF, with the FBI, to work up cases for federal prosecution.
This group of leaders here, and all those who serve under them – we’ve already taken some of the most violent offenders off our streets, including 85 individuals selling drugs and committing violent crime at and around a single public housing development in the Bronx. In that instance, an extraordinary team effort has dramatically changed the situation in the 4-9 Precinct where that NYCHA development is located. It’s dramatically driven down crime. So, we’ll work with all of our partners here. We’re also going to work with the State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who’s been a key partner in so much of what we do.
All that collaboration – city, state, federal government, law enforcement, courts, police – all of that is crucial, but there’s one more piece – the people, the communities we serve, the grassroots. I’ve said now for three straight years that one of the things that’ll make us safer is deepening the partnership and the relationship between police and community. When that partnership reaches its potential – and I know it will under Commissioner Bratton, and Chief O’Neill, especially with our new neighborhood-policing strategy – our police will have so much more information, so much more cooperation that will help them find these evildoers, and will help our prosecutors to gather the evidence they need. We’ve only just begun to see what that deep partnership can achieve.
And we know for too long it didn’t exit. We know for too long there was a separation between those protecting communities and the communities they served. We’ve made some very powerful changes to heal those wounds and bring community and police together. I’m proud of the fact that crime continues to go down, and, at the same time, as we have reduced the use of stop-and-frisk by 93 percent, we fixed a broken policy, and proved that we could make that reform, and make the city safer while driving down crime. And that is building trust between the NYPD and the neighborhoods it serves. We’re seeing a reduction in complaints against our officers. We’re seeing an increase in cooperation in all the NYPD does on the ground. We also are seeing an increase in gun arrests – a 10 percent increase in gun arrests in 2015, with more to come.
So, we’ll continue to work with communities, because that’s the piece of the puzzle that makes everything else work – the people we serve being our full partners in our efforts to make this the safest city continually – the safest city in this country. We are the safest big city, but we aim to go farther.
Quickly in Spanish –
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, I want you to hear from a number of people, because success has many mothers and fathers, and I want you to hear from the folks who are making this unprecedented partnership come together.
Question: Mayor, you describe this initiative as unprecedented, but there had been a gun court in Brooklyn, which was disbanded, in part, because there was an overwhelming number of cases. So, first of all, how is this different from the gun court that already existed in Brooklyn? And how do you protect against the same thing happening?
Mayor: Look, I think we are committed to making this work for the long-term. We have the resources in place. I wasn’t here for that – and if perhaps some of my colleagues want to speak to the previous experience – but I know we have the resource in place, we have the leadership in place. We are making this a priority. I think one of the realities today that’s different from the past is we continue to tighten the vice on that small number of violent criminals. Again, in a city of almost eight-and-a-half million people, it is a few thousands individuals who are the biggest problem. And I think when you think back even a decade ago, sadly, there was a lot more that prosecutors, police, etcetera had to cover in terms of violent crime. But as violent crime has been constantly reduced, we can now focus more and more resources on those remaining evildoers, and those who are really the perpetrators of the gun violence. So, I think – also, I think the collaboration levels between all these agencies are much improved compared to a decade ago. So, I think it is a new dynamic where this coordination is going to work more effectively. Would anyone like to add to that?
Commissioner William Bratton, NYPD: If I may, Mr. Mayor – the initiative we’re launching, one, is significantly resourced – that we’re benefiting from what the Council, the mayor were able to do with the additional officers that we’re now bringing into the department. So, taking existing resource and, in some instances, expanding them with personnel. The DAs have made it quite clear that they’re supportive of this, and will put the appropriate personnel into their office to handle these cases. The judge has indicated the reason we’re doing this a borough at a time is the idea to give everybody the time to get the resources together, the space, the facility, if you will, to move it forward. What we’re also relying on, much more significantly in this initiative is, the technology – the technology of working with the medical examiner’s office to expedite the DNA analysis, which will be so substantive in giving the prosecutors the tools to go to the defense attorney and indicate – you can take this to trial, if you want, or you can take it to plea, but here’s the evidence we have that puts your subject’s fingerprint on this shell casing. So, we have a lot more technology to work with, and the new partner in this initiative is the medical examiner. So, the expression “everything old is new again” – well, this is the newer version of what was back then. But we think this one – one, we’re working on a much smaller number of shootings per year, precision policing, and the fact that it was 1,500 a year, as I referenced – now, we’re batting around 1,200. So, that is the difference. I should also point out for a way of clarification – this fast tracking will be for possession of firearms. Shootings involving a victim [inaudible] will still be handled by our detectives squad, Chief Boyce, but will be assisted by the enhanced ME – the ability to produce evidence that can work with the prosecutors as they prosecute traditional shooting cases under the existing laws. Thank you.
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson: And just – Andrew, to answer your question – how does this differ from the old one – back in the day, in 2003, we had one judge to deal with the gun part – he didn’t try the cases – went up to state supreme court judges who will work continuously on these cases. They will try them if we can’t resolve them with the plea. We’re going to have a retired judge who’s going to deal with the hearings. So, we’re going to have more resources, we’re not just going to have one judge. And the way my office is set up, we have five different trial zones. We have about 75 felony prosecutors who are still going to handle the gun cases, but they’re all going to be under [inaudible]. And so, my office is going to take a different approach. The court system has given us more resources, and with the enhancing of these guns by the medical examiner, I think that we’re all hopeful that this is going to make a difference.
Mayor: One more point – thank you, Ken – one more point – that 200-member gun suppression – Gun Violence Suppression Unit is also a factor we didn’t have a decade ago. That’s 200 NYPD members who will focus specifically on this problem, and, again, track a case all the way through to completion.
Question: Some community activists – well, most of them said they want guns off the street, but when you use a term like fast tracking, swift justice, they’re fearful that innocent young men could get wrapped up in this system – you know, if the judge only hears gun case after gun case, they may not care. What’s your reaction to some of the [inaudible] swift justice could lead to young men unfairly getting locked up?
Mayor: If you pick up a gun, you will suffer the consequences, I think it’s as simple as that. I think there are a lot of young people who have been treated unfairly in our criminal justice system, and a lot of young people who went to prison when there were better alternatives, but I always make the separation between violent crime and nonviolent crime. If you pick up a gun, it’s a whole different discussion. And it’s our obligation to keep communities safe, and to get to the heart of the matter. And, by the way, that does not negate the fact that we believe fundamentally in trying to get to our young people before such a thing happens. We believe in a lot of the intervention programs that have proven that have a lot of success. We believe in getting young people early in their lives – early childhood education, afterschool, a host of things to help young people not end up on that path. But if we fast forward, and that young person picks up a gun, then they’re a threat to the community.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you said the city is the safest big city in the nation [inaudible]. I’m wondering, if that’s the case, why do you need this program if you’re saying the streets are all safe? Or are you trying to address the perception that the streets [inaudible]?
Mayor: No, I think it’s really straightforward. We are the safest big city in the country. We have been for several years now – and that was true in the previous administration in the last few years, it has been true in these two years, and we have to go farther – that’s the point, Marcia – we have to go farther. No one will rest on their laurels. We have a team that has set some records, but we want to set more records. We want to go farther. We want to get more of the violent criminals off the streets. So, no, I don’t – you know, the issue of perception comes up a lot in these sessions, and I understand it’s a part of the work we do – I’m going at fact. We’ve driven down shootings, we want to drive them down more. Gun arrests are up 10 percent, we want it to go farther. We’ve sent a lot of violent felons to prison, we want to send more. And we don’t want to see revolving-door justice, and that’s part of why this collaboration is so important – to get people off the streets who don’t belong there.
Question: [inaudible] perception [inaudible] is unfair – that the streets are more dangerous than they actually are? And are you trying to –
Mayor: I think that it’s never unfair. If someone feels unsafe, we have to both respect that and do something about it. If someone feels unsafe, we have to recognize that that’s the city we aspire to. And I’ve said, often times people feel unsafe because something’s happened in their neighborhood – maybe it didn’t happen to them, but it happened to their neighbor, or it happened to their friend. That’s enough to put someone on edge. That’s not the city we are trying to build here. We’re trying to build a city where every neighborhood – people feel safe in. If you look at the last 20-plus years, the progress is amazing – it’s absolutely breathtaking, but it’s not enough. We’ve got to go farther.
Question: Are you satisfied with the kinds of sentences the judges have been giving on gun cases? And do expect this program – Fast Track in courts – is going to change the sentencing outcomes in any way?
Mayor: Let me say – first of all, if any of my colleagues want to jump in, they can feel free. I am not a lawyer – I’m innocent, I always say. I believe there are too many situations where someone who belonged in prison didn’t get to prison, or someone who didn’t belong on the streets remained on the streets – that’s me speaking as a layman. I think what all of these professionals would say to you is, some of the time, that’s because all the pieces weren’t fitting together, the resources weren’t there. The focus of all of these efforts wasn't sufficient. Every one has been doing an incredible job. This is – again, these are all folks who have been part of driving down crime over 20-plus years incredibly successfully. But we didn’t put all of the pieces together the way we ultimately wanted to, and we think now we have a chance to do much, much better.
Commissioner Bratton: [inaudible] Mr. Mayor. The 2009 initiative – one of the reasons that it went away was that there were changes in the state law relative to the incarceration – I think they increased the sentence up to three years – three-and-a-half years – something like that. Part of what we’re going to do here with this initiative – we will be evaluating every arrest to ensure that the officers, one, have the appropriate reasonable suspicion of probable cause to make the arrest, the documentation of evidence, enhancing the quality of the scientific evidence that we can bring so that the prosecutors can make a more informed decision on what the appropriate charges should be in going forward. Many of our arrest, unfortunately, it’s the prosecutor's office – they don’t go forward because the prosecutor feels that the evidence gathered by the detective or the officer is insufficient. So, what we’ll be attempting to do is improve significantly the quality of evidence that we can bring to the prosecutor. It will then also help the judge to make a more definitive decision in their – as they’re part of the process. As part of this new unit, we’ll have a risk-management component that will look at every one of these arrests, and if we are identifying patterns or procedures of our – that our officers are not following – that we’ll build that into our training programs – on issues of stop-question-and-frisk – on evidence search. So, the amount of cases we’re talking about here are small enough to really allow us to have very significant quality control improvement. And, in each of these cases, it will have one detective assigned to follow the case from the arrest, through the final prosecution. So, that will also help to give the courts and the prosecutors more confidence as they get to know those detectives, and get to know the capabilities of the detectives, and the evidence that they’re bringing.
Mayor: Okay, on this proposal – yes?
Question: The commissioner has spoken in the past about witnesses sometimes not cooperating. I wonder if Fast Track at all addresses this issue – if any DAs want to address how much of a factor that is in your ability to prosecute.
Commissioner Bratton: In about one-third – I think Bob Boyce is here – I think that’s the figure – about one-third of our shooting incidents the victim is uncooperative. As recently just the day before yesterday – we actually had a victim yesterday that was finally murdered after the fifth shooting that he had been the victim of – very frequently uncooperative in giving information about who had shot him. What we will have here, even with an uncooperative victim – we will have better evidence retrieval, ShotSpotter, where the actual incident occurred, because, often times, they give us incorrect information. But we will have with that evidence retrieval, the ability for DNA analysis. We will have the ability with higher-quality investigations, more focused – more precision-focused investigations to make the cases, even in the case of an uncooperative witness. So, this, again, will give the prosecutors a lot more to work with, and the judges a lot more to base the decisions upon.
Question: I just wanted to check – the 15 precincts, it’s one of them [inaudible] on Staten Island I’m just assuming –
Chief of Department James O’Neill, NYPD: The 120 – probably not volume wise. There are other precincts throughout the city, but we’re going to hit it – all five boroughs. So, we’ll be in the 120.
Commissioner Bratton: Staten Island will be all [inaudible] precincts will be.
Chief O’Neill: Yeah.
Commissioner Bratton: [inaudible] fortunately, [inaudible] combination shootings on Staten Island is probably less than any 15 precincts [inaudible].
Question: Tell us about the 15 command. Will it be in [inaudible]? Can you just explain a little bit more about that?
Chief O’Neill: It’s the top 15 commands historically for violence, which is homicides and shootings. And that tends to fluctuate every once in a while, but the last five – the top ten are usually the top ten, but we can get a list to you.
Mayor: On this proposal – I’m going to see if we have any other questions then we’re going to other police matters. Yes, Jillian?
Question: Mayor, do you have any insight from the defense attorneys, or, like, legal aid types – you know, advocates for people who are accused of crimes – and what they think of this? I know many of them are pushing to, obviously, speed up the court process. They might be happy on that end, but there might be other areas –
Mayor: Look, I will just again speak as someone not in the law enforcement field, but who knows plenty about the history of Richard Brown, and Liz Glazer, and all the other folks here. I don’t think anyone here in this room is insensitive to concerns about fairness. I think we are entirely focused on stopping violence, and nothing is more unfair then when someone suffers from violence. And we just haven’t done all that was possible to do to suppress violence, and to get at these guns. There’s more we can do, and now we have some new very powerful tools to go at it. So, I don’t know – Richard if you want to add anything, but I think those concerns are being effectively addressed.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown: That’s exactly right; to borrow a phrase the mayor use before in his [inaudible] remarks – a win, win. Swift justice is beneficial not just for the community, but also for the person charged. There’s nothing more horrendous then having a case hanging over your head for a year or a year-and-a-half or two years, and you’re innocent. So, why not remove that sort of [inaudible] from that person as swift as we possibly can. So, everybody wins under this program.
Commissioner Bratton: Just a thought I just shared with the mayor on this that the quality of the evidence – and I keep emphasizing the scientific component of this that the world we’re living in now and the capabilities of our detectives, our medical examiner to develop evidence that often times juries want to say, certainly judges want to see that are beyond just an eyewitness statement or even some of the videos that we recover. And we recover tremendous amount of video in many of these incidents – that in some respects that will assist the defense attorney in making a decision about the ability to present a defense for their client. The idea being they often times have to make a decision between a plea bargain of some sort and going forward into a trial. And this will actually give them more information to work with upon which to make their decision as to which course they want to take in dealing with the prosecutor.
Mayor: Okay. [inaudible].
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance: I would just also add that we are fortunate to have OCA’s commitment because it’s the judge who actually sets the time table. And the judge who has the power to enforce that time table, and make sure the parties are ready. So, with the – at least in Brooklyn, with the two judges and the additional resources there’s going to be less opportunity for either side to be unready for a proceeding because of judicial resources will be there, and the judge has made a commitment to make sure that these cases are handled expeditiously.
Mayor: Okay, last call – please, please – Council member?
Council Member Rory Lancman: Councilman Rory Lancman, I chair the committee on courts and legal services in the council. And, you know, this effort swims in two streams that are a priority for the city right now. One is, to speed up trials. We’re all familiar with the tragic Kalief Browder case. This administration has embarked on a number of initiatives to speed up trials because that is in the interest of the defendants as well as the public. And the second is, as the Commissioner mentioned, and others mentioned, we want to see better policing in New York City. I mean, the problem with stop-question-frisk was a sense that people – particularly, people of color – were being stopped and questioned without adequate reason. I mean, the 2009 – 2005 to 2009 gun court initiative ended up speeding up trials, but oddly there were – as a higher rate of dismissals, and a lower rate of indictments because there was not at the same time a commencer investment in the quality of developing the evidence in these gun cases. So, we oversee the courts; we oversee the legal services community. I think that everybody has an interest in making trials speedy, not irresponsibly speedy, but speedy. And also in our police force developing evidence in a fairer, better, more efficient way. That’s in everybody’s interest, including the defendants.
Mayor: Amen. Okay, last call on this particular topic, going once, twice. Okay. For all of our colleagues, thank you. We’re going to keep NYPD folks here for other public safety questions, but thank you everyone else.
Okay, we are going to take questions on other police topics. Sir?
Question: Update at the 73rd precinct – the last person was caught in that incident.
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, NYPD: Good afternoon, everybody. At about 11 o’clock this morning we arrested a Travis Beckford. He’s a 17-year-old male. He is the fifth person that we arrested in this case, and we believe he is the final person. [inaudible] he was apprehended by members of the warrant squad in Brooklyn. We’re speaking to him now. So, he’s the fifth case we have, and we believe this is the end – no one else we’re looking for.
Question: There have been reports that the young lady in the case had told police that she was drinking with her father in the park, and there were other reports about – that her father may have been involved in some sort of sex with her.
Chief Boyce: Thursday night we spoke to her at KCH – Kings County Hospital – and she gave a very credible report to us. She was injured – she had physical injuries at the time. She was traumatized. We did get that information from two of the persons arrested, from no one else. So, we’re investigating that and other things as well. We were able to grab video from the school – intermediate school that night – excuse me, the next day. Saturday, we worked on acquiring video that bolstered her story. Everything she told us and the father told us – the video that we got that next morning, and that next afternoon bolstered that side of the story. Because of that video, the next day we got the video of these individuals going onto the grocery store, which identified them – which we put out in the video to the press I believe Saturday night around 1930 hours.
Question: [inaudible] We haven’t really got a full account.
Chief Boyce: Sure. About 9 o’clock in Osborne Park – the 73 on Hegeman Avenue – we had an individual who ran up to two police officers – her father – and said that his daughter was maybe being murdered. They immediately put it over the radio, and they all went to Osborne Park where they found that individual. She was crying. She was visibly upset. She had cuts and bruises on her body. We moved her to Kings County Hospital [inaudible]. Two detectives from Special Victims Squad responded 15 minutes later and spoke to her. Everything she said seemed credible, and the father’s narrative was exactly the same – five individuals, one with a gun – a gunpoint rape. At this point, we went back to the location and we found articles of clothing of hers nearby in that park. The next day we were able to obtain video depicting these individuals leaving the park at around 2030 – 8:30 at night, and then coming back about five minutes later. So, wherever they went they went quickly. We then did a canvass there, that’s where we came up with the grocery store of those individuals. We put that out Saturday night, and then Sunday afternoon at some point two individuals with their parents surrendered at the 73 Precinct. We took statements from them, and we began our investigation there. Because of our investigation we identified another three persons. One of the other persons surrendered at the 69 Precinct later Sunday night, and another was on a CrimeStopper tip into our crime stoppers hotline – we identified him and we arrested him in Brooklyn. Today marks the fifth person, at 11 o’clock, that we have arrested. We’re speaking to both – all five of them. Three of the five made statements to us, and we’ll go from there. They’re being charged with rape one, criminal sex act one, and sexual abuse – first degree. The individuals – the 14-year-old, the two 15-year-olds will be charged as JO’s – Juvenile Offenders; and the 17-year-old, of course.
Mayor: Any specific questions on the case for Chief Boyce? Let’s get those done first, then we’ll keep going from there.
Question: Have you ruled out the victim’s father as a potential suspect in any of this? There’s also the drinking component to this – is that something that is a part of the scenario?
Chief Boyce: It’s part – well, it’s part of the case. So, they freely admit they were drinking alcohol there – the father and the victim. So, that’s part of the case. That’s not something anybody is rebutting.
Chief Boyce: We believe he is, yes.
Question: Is he being charged with anything at this point?
Chief Boyce: He’s not being charged with anything at this point.
Chief Boyce: No
Question: Do you believe the gun was used in this incident?
Chief Boyce: Both the victim and the father, the witness, say the gun was used. So, we’re still searching for that gun. There’s a lot more to do in this case. There’s DNA – there’s other things to – video collection as well. So, we’re not finished with the case.
Question: What are the records of the 17-year-old or anybody else?
Chief Boyce: The individual that we arrested today had one prior arrest for sale of marijuana. One of the other individuals that we arrested on the CrimeStopper tip had an assault arrest – one assault arrest for a bat. And one of the other individuals had a juvenile case.
Question: Chief, is it any clearer how these guys came up to the father? That’s sort of thing [inaudible] in all this.
Chief Boyce: It is when you look at where geographically where you find the case. He only runs two blocks away to a housing development nearby, and then he gets the officers and comes back. Apparently, he’s hysterical. He says a gun was pointed at him.
Question: Were those housing officers that he ran to or 73.
Chief Boyce: They’re members of the 73 precinct.
Mayor: Any other questions for Chief Boyce? Let’s just clarify, any other questions for Chief Boyce? Please.
Question: Chief, is there any indication that this was a premeditated – they planned it or was it a spur of the moment?
Chief Boyce: There’s nothing to suggest it’s premeditated at all. They were in the park. We don’t believe, from the video that we got from the intermediate school, that they had known each other prior to that, they were speaking. These young males went out to a grocery store and then came back in, prior to that they had not spoken.
Question: Can you talk about the arrest of violent criminal Ruben Pizzaro –
Mayor: Wait, on this topic – I just want to stay here. Is there anything else on this case for Chief Boyce?
Question: Is the father being looked at all as possibly having sexual activity with the daughter leading up to this?
Chief Boyce: I’m going to say it again, that came from two individuals that were arrested. And that’s the only place we’ve got that so far.
Question: Is a DNA sample being taken from the father?
Chief Boyce: DNA is being requested, not from the father as of yet, all five individuals DNA [inaudible]. The evidence kit at the hospital takes about seven to ten days to come back.
Mayor: Okay, on this – on this very horrible case, any other questions on this?
Question: Mr. Mayor, can you just tell us how you first found out about this?
Mayor: Yes. It was Sunday, around noon, from one of my aides from City Hall. And let me go and answer the next question – for two straight years now I’ve been working very closely with Commissioner Bratton and Chief O’Neill. We talk many, many days – multiple times a day. We’re emailing back and forth all the time. They keep me informed of many things on a very regular basis. In this instance that process did not work properly. I should’ve been informed, certainly, on Friday. And we’ve all had that conversation, this was a horrific crime and a very unusual crime, and I should have been informed more quickly. I would just go one more step and say – and, again if the Commissioner and Chief want to add – while I said the other day there are very delicate decisions made about when to inform the public, and the broader community about a particular crime because the last thing we want to do is undermine an investigation or undermine our ability to get the perpetrators. And I want to be very clear about that. NYPD tells me that there’s a reason they are holding something back because they believe it’s going to help them get the person who did the crime, I always respect that and defer to that. And, obviously, there are very serious confidentiality concerns any time there’s a sexual assault. But in this instance, again, I think the process of informing the public and the community should have been clearer and earlier.
On this topic –
Mayor: I’ll let the chief or the commissioner speak to that question.
Chief O’Neill: Well, I think by examining their records, you see that no one really had a high amount of arrest on them. So, it’s difficult to say – a question like that is a tough question. We don’t believe so. We believe this random attack. As horrible as it was, it was random – no premeditation there. So, it’s difficult to make that statement. But we don’t believe it is.
Question: I’m curious [inaudible] most, if not all of you, are parents. We have a girl who was drinking with her father in a park, and then was the victim of this awful support. What’s the take away here?
Mayor: I would just caution – I’m – again, these are law enforcement professionals. I would be very cautious about passing any judgement based on incomplete facts with an investigation going on. A young woman was viciously attacked. That’s what we know. And it’s unacceptable. And any other [inaudible] factors or other factors will be looked at, but let’s stay focused on what happened to this young woman, and the fact that it should not have happened; and is not acceptable.
Question: [inaudible] it was a complicated manner – you didn’t want to rush to judgement about how the police informed the public. And later you sort of said it should have been sooner. What was the criteria factor that you sort of learned in between those two things? And what can [inaudible] in the future to say, hey, this should –
Mayor: Yeah, I want to be very clear, first of all, sometimes when you ask a question I want to make sure that all the facts are clear. I answer when I believe I have everything I need to tell you, and so I went back and obviously talked with my colleagues. But I want to emphasize, I think the NYPD does an extraordinary job of making the determination of how and when to provide information publicly. I have been in front of you many times with the commissioner, the chief when we talk about needing the public’s help to catch a criminal. We, obviously, did that yesterday in terms of the fifth suspect. That is something NYPD does an exceptional job at – making the determination – it’s time to get that information out publicly, and then making sure that the community is fully participant in catching one of these horrible assailants. And I also want to commend everyone involved in this investigation for what they did to find the video, and to get all five suspects. But, clearly again, there’s a case by case determination that’s made. I respect it, but I’m also going to use my judgement as someone who works with community all over this – communities all over this city; that I’m going to ask if there’s a situation where there’s something to learn or something to do better. And I think in this case, there was something I could have done better. We’ve all that conversation, and we want to make that adjustment going forward.
Commissioner Bratton: Let me speak to that.
Commissioner Bratton: There’s no denying that the department should have – I, police commissioner; department, our press office put some information out on Friday. This was part of my morning briefing – the Chief of Department briefing as well as the Chief of Detective briefing. Materials I received usually on my desk around 5:30 or 6. So, we were aware of this investigation underway Friday morning. At that time, the information we were working with was five black males had raped a woman, and assaulted her father. That’s all the information we had to work with. We assigned a very significant number of teams of detectives to the investigation. And as you saw that investigation, ultimately, resulted in, I think Sunday morning, finally coming up with information – with more specific descriptions, the video tape, that we shared with you. So, the information that we would have put out to the public initially would have been extraordinarily minimal – five young black males. At the same time, that would have been sufficient to alert the neighborhood, the community – and to also, if anybody had seen something to possibly give us assistance relative to when the event occurred; had they seen five young black males in that area at that time – the bodega for example; the circumstance at that time. So, there’s no getting around the fact that on this instance, which is very unusual for us as you know – we did not push information out quickly as minimal as that information was. But the – clearly, when we had a lot more to go on including the circumstances of the case that we quickly as possible tried to enlist you as we usually do to help us to enlist the public to get involved with us and as the chief has indicated, some of the arrests we made were the direct result of tips coming into the public now because of their awareness. Indeed, as you’re aware, two of the instances – two of the mothers becoming aware of this matter brought their two sons into the station house on their own accord.
Mayor: On this topic. Yes?
Question: Commissioner Bratton, what’s the usual – you had about 1,000 rape cases last year, give or take – what’s the usual MO when you have a rape in a community? Do you do an immediate canvass? Do you do immediate [inaudible]? How – what’s the protocol?
Commissioner Bratton: Well, Boyce can speak to that. [inaudible] tracks that – those numbers very, very closely. Any rape allegation as any serious crime receives immediate attention. We’ve got the sexual – excuse me, the Special Victims Division, that you’re well aware of – that is charged with investigating these cases. That’s the entity – the teams of detectives who are bought in immediately on Friday to begin this investigation.
This past year, just to be aware of the concern that we place on the issue of rape, with funding from the mayor and City Council we increased the SVD from 210 to 240 detectives. We have also, additionally, increased the training that those detectives receive each year from five to 10 days. There – there are a number of other changes that have made – additional personnel put in units that are related to the investigations of sex crimes. So, the issue of a rape or any type of sexual assault in the city is given great priority and preference. But Bobby, if you can speak more specifically to what goes on once you get word of it?
Chief Boyce: Sure. As the commissioner said, we have the largest Special Victims Unit in the country – its 240 persons, led by Chief – Deputy Chief with varying degrees of oversight as well. So, everyone [inaudible] case; everyone’s different, you know, not to go into any one victim into one circumstance. So, each one is fully vetted immediately. We have response teams. We created the incident response team that works 24/7 out of the Special Victims Division. So, they respond the hospitals. There’s a S. A. R. T. program – Sexual Assault Response Team -- which acts also has a nurse from the Health + Hospitals Corporation -- all of it’s collaborated at that point to find out exactly what happened. That means going back, getting crime scene video evidence, witness testimony, whatever the case may be. We couldn’t give it any more priority than we do now. But we’re constantly doing analytics. We developed an analytics team to be able to deploy quicker and faster, and use our resources more intelligently.
We also have a DNA team that goes back on old rapes to see if we can put together any serial rapists that we had before, working with the office of the chief medical examiner.
It’s a big part of my day as Chief of Detectives, it’s my largest division that I have. I have detective [inaudible], but I also have detective divisions – Special Victims Division is my largest. And also, again, we get notified 24/7 – the Chief as well as myself – of any strange rape in the city. So, that’s where we are. We also have worked with the District Attorney’s Office across the city. They have bureaus specifically assigned to sex crimes. So, we’re working well with them.
Question: Mr. Mayor, how did your aide learn about this, and when did they reach out to you?
Mayor: Again, Sunday at 12 noon. I don’t know how they learned, but Sunday at 12 noon is when I was [inaudible].
Question: Commissioner, this is a question for you -- after you talked about the crime statistics from last year and the rise in stranger rapes, you had advised using the buddy system for women. Some lawmakers, yesterday – or this week – took issue with that. And they said that this case in Brownsville is an example of, you know, why that’s not a good solution. I was curious what you made of [inaudible]?
Commissioner Bratton: I’m sorry; I didn’t hear the last half of that question.
Question: I was just curious what you think of the criticism they used – lawmakers are saying that the rape in Brownsville is an example of how –
Commissioner Bratton: It would have been inappropriate criticism. As Chief Boyce and I just articulated that there’s no crime that receives as serious attention and focus as this one. As far as my personal involvement, I stand here on the steps of City Hall every year – at the events that many of you cover dealing with drawing attention to this particular crime. My role as police commissioner is not just to arrest after the fact, but to do everything we can to prevent. So, you may recall at the press briefing that we gave at the beginning of the new year, talking about statistics from the old year, as is our practice, when we talk with you each month about trends and what’s occurring in the intimacy we’ve tracked it. We talked about an increase in rapes. And we talked specifically within that increase about an increase in incidents involving public transportation.
Ironically, not on the subway, which I think reported rape last year, but an increase in rapes involving green cabs, yellow cabs, limos, Ubers -- and that we were bringing that to the attention of the public as we were continuing to expand our investigation of what was happening that we were seeing this increase. Some of that increase based on our investigations involved the circumstance of young women coming out of clubs, other venues – early morning, late evening and basically then being assaulted in cabs – various kinds of assaults.
So, as you would expect as police commissioner, I have an obligation to warn people about that. The whole idea was just to keep it secret. And part of the warning was the idea, be aware of this, be conscious of this, but also something that we do all the time in policing is to try to give additional advice on how you might protect yourself.
One of the tried-and-true methods over the years – you do it with your children, you do it in many other forms – is the buddy system. We do it for drunk driving. If you’re going to go out drinking all night, have a designated driver, so that you’re not going to get in an accident, hurt yourself, and hurt others. So, I think, unfortunately, the comment was misconstrued as somehow sexist – not at all. It’s, I think, sound advice -- was then when I gave it several days ago, and remains sound advice as part of the larger context of what we’re trying to do to ensure that public in this city understands when we have an issue around a specific type of crime we will do our best to reduce that very quickly because of our attention to it. But also, by making the public aware of it so they can help us by reporting it or if they’re aware of incidents, so if there is a serial rapist or if there’s a serial number of incidents occurring, we can use the expertise of the best police department in America to very quickly deal with that.
Mayor: Let me add to that if I may. Just very quickly, you know, the buck stops here. And Commissioner Bratton and I are responsible for the safety of everyone in this city – for everyone. Obviously, we are deeply concerned about the safety of the women in this city, and again, we don’t like some of these trends we see and we want to combat them. That’s why there are more detectives than ever doing Special Victims work, that’s why there’s more training. All of the things we’ve talked about at the beginning of the year – the new technology, the new officers who will be coming online, the increase in about 2,000 members of our patrol strength -- all of this is going to help us to fight a lot of different crimes including sexual assaults and rapes.
So, we take this very, very seriously and it’s our responsibility, period.
Now, to the second point -- we will constantly say – not only when there’s a danger which is our obligation to do, but again, I remind you in some of the threats we were talking about in December from outside, we talked about people being extra vigilant, we talked about our officers being vigilant, we talked about the classic phrase, ‘If you see something say something.’ So, we will be very precise about that. People should be very clear about the fact that we take full responsibility for everyone’s safety and at the same time we think it’s our obligation to constantly give people warnings and advice about how to help us keep them safe.
Who we got?
Question: Mayor – actually this is for Commissioner Bratton. What do you think about law enforcement using smart guns? It was Hakeem Jeffries and Scott Stringer yesterday were calling on the NYPD to use these new safer, smart guns. And why hasn’t the NYPD [inaudible]?
Commissioner Bratton: I think you’re referring to comments made by Comptroller – Mr. Stringer. We’re supportive of anything that helps to improve gun safety. At the recent IACP conference in Chicago, some of the teams we had out there looked at some of the current smart gun technology. That is a technology that really is in its infancy and I would not suggest a move towards that in the police department at this stage. The technology is just too primitive. And it is not appropriate for police departments. At the same time, we will continue to look at it, support research that works on it, but for many reasons it is not ready for primetime players at this time. At the same time, I think we should all advocate in support of continued and expanding research into that issue, but at this time it is not appropriate for law enforcement, and I would not support it in this department at this juncture.
Question: I’m wondering if you could expand a little bit more on how you decide which rapes or which crimes you make public. I know that one aspect is harming the case, but, for me, just thinking about my own life – I would want to know if like, for instance, someone broke into an apartment a couple doors down, and –
Commissioner Bratton: Let me speak to that. We, at the most recent press conference that we talked about CompStat two. Jesse Tisch talked about that beginning in February or March, that on our website -- you can go under the CompStat site, and there will be much more detailed, timely information available about what crimes are occurring in what neighborhoods. Certain crimes such as sexual assaults etcetera would not have a specific address, as you might expect, but would instead have a region or an area to it. But that we are moving toward – despite the incredibly lowered number of crime in this city from five or six hundred thousand major crimes a year to 100,000, that’s still a lot of volume every day. And we would inundate with all of that information we’re pumping out all the information about every one of the part one crimes, but to assist in that we will be pushing it out through our CompStat two system, on the web, so that there’s the ability to be aware.
And then, certainly, what we intend to do if – on cases of serial rapists, events that we did not do well in terms of getting information out on gang rapes, which is extraordinarily unusual in this city, fortunately -- that – and you know it as well as I do, we push out information on shootings and murders, and depending on what space you have to work with in the paper, that it’s often times a lot of it goes unreported because you just don’t have the ability to track it all.
We’re trying to get around that by being able to find a way to get information out to you, so you can go to your neighborhood and see what crimes have been occurring in your neighborhood – so that you do have that awareness. Is it burglaries? Is it a sexual assault that may have occurred? What is a shooting? Of course, you’re away during the day time – you’re not aware of what’s going on in your neighborhood and this new system will help that significantly. It will help us because it will increase your awareness and alertness as to what’s going on in your neighborhood.
Mayor: You had a question earlier.
Question: Sure. About the apprehension of who you guys were calling public enemy number one, Ruben Pizarro – if you can just give us an update on that?.
Chief O’Neill: A bit of good news – Ruben Pizarro aka Chulo, a 24-year-old male – we were very concerned about him, he came up constantly. We’ve arrested him four times for shootings, two of which he took to trial and were acquitted, other times the case didn’t go forward because the witnesses didn’t want to go forward. He is a blood gang member who lives in the 48. We’ve been following him for a while. I was the Chief of the Bronx Detectives a couple years ago, he was job one them as he is right now. This past November 24th, he brutally murdered a young man in the 48. It was captured on video. We were able to identify him immediately, and we went out looking for him since then. It’s been non-stop. Members of the Violent Felony Squad have been looking for this individual as well as the regional task force. So, he’s been somewhat slippery.
Again, he also did a shooting in the 34 precinct – shooting-robbery of a carjacking. This is a very dangerous individual. We now have him apprehended. We got – we decided to put out a big media push. We have tremendous assets and the public information office put out an interview with one of our case lieutenants. And we got a tip today that came into one of my detective squads in the Bronx that he was at Kingsbridge Terrace, 3505 I believe it is, I have the address here. We went over there immediately deployed, and he was standing out in front. Detectives chased him inside the location, and then he tried to go out of a back window, so we apprehended him in the back. Because he ran into the building we found he was with four other individuals, they are other gang members, so we ended up arresting five people all together – this includes Chulo.
Again, the city is a much safer place right now with him off the street. We weren’t the only one looking for him, other gang members were looking for him as well. So, we believe we prevented violence.
Question: [inaudible] what does this mean to have him off the streets, but also the fact that he’s been tried a number of times, and those cases have fallen through, and he’s been able to [inaudible] shoot people on the streets -- ride ATV’s up and down the street.
Chief O’Neill: We have it on video – it’s a level of frustration. Of course, when [inaudible] you put all that work and the detectives in the Bronx did a great job with these cases. He’s going to be prosecuted federally in the southern district. We’ve tried him there before. That’s where he’s beat one of the cases. We’ll go back and we’ll keep trying until we get these individuals off the streets. Bronx had one of the best years they’ve ever had with violence this past year, and it keeps getting better every year. By targeting these violent sociopaths, and I’ll call them that, we get them off the street. It makes the streets safer. So, I think by getting him in with the public – time and time again we use the public to identify these folks – where they are. And time and time again the public answers. So this has happened today.
Commissioner Bratton: [inaudible] for just a moment. What we did with this matter, this was discussed at CompStat last Thursday morning, the fact of this character committed that murder in November we’re still looking for him without much success. So, the decision was made by Chief O’Neill, Chief Boyce, and Chief Shea – Commissioner Shea – let’s maximize our new capabilities on our smartphones, and our social media. So, in addition to pushing it out to you -- making the lieutenant that’s most involved in this case available to you, we also pushed it out on our social media, which in many instances reaches more than your readership, and sometimes listenership.
But also, we’re able to – now we have over 20,000 smartphones out in the street. So we were able to push out information on the appropriate app on their smartphones. So, what you saw this week you will start seeing much more frequently. We will probably move to a ‘most wanted of the week’ in the sense of letting you know about who is the most prevalent criminal in this city we’re looking for and use our social media capabilities, our app capabilities to our officers, and you. In this case, this was discussed Thursday morning, here we are Tuesday afternoon, three o’clock, he’s in custody.
Question: [inaudible] weapon when you arrested him.
Chief Boyce: Today, no. We have a search warrant at that premise where he was staying. So, we – we would not be surprised at all. We did observe a holster there. So, we’re going to do a search warrant at that location -- that’s an abandoned home that him and his gang was using. A lot of these gang members that we have the most trouble getting are gang members because they have a lot of locations, they have other gang members that they stay with. So, we’re going to do a search warrant at that location. That location is 30-15 Kingsbridge Terrace, it’s in the 50 precinct.
Question: [Inaudible] weapons that you think were traced to him and to some of the [inaudible].
Chief Boyce: We have not gotten the murder weapon for the one in the 48 this past – just before – a few days before Thanksgiving. We have not got that but we see him on video shooting people. This guy in the middle day, he will shoot somebody. He’s cold and I usually don’t’ comment about my perpetrators but it’s tough not to because we have him on video shooting people in the middle of the day.
Mayor: I just want to say to the chief, congratulations, that’s a tremendous victory for the NYPD. Well done.
Question: [Inaudible] Are these the drivers raping passengers? What exactly is happening?
Chief Boyce: Dermont, you want to come on up? Let’s get the expert. Give him a second to come up here.
Mayor: He will walk a mile to answer your question. He’ll limp a mile to answer your question. Don’t fall over Dermot. There you go.
Deputy Commissioner of Operations Dermot Shea, NYPD: That is – that’s exactly what we’re seeing. We’re seeing women getting into taxi cabs – it could be a livery, it could be a yellow or green, it could be an unlicensed livery, it could be a car that the victim believes is a livery and maybe, in fact, it is not. But --
Commissioner Bratton: It could be an Uber.
Deputy Commissioner Shea: – it could be an Uber. At some point during that travel, generally speaking, what I’m seeing is the passenger will fall asleep. They’re alone in the car. Every one of these we have, on the rape side, they are alone in the car – and when they are sleeping, at some point, they wake up to being sexual assaulted by the driver.
Question: Are these cases – are you able to close them quickly? I mean, are the outstanding – I know you said there a couple in the last week – are they open? Are you looking for a perp?
Deputy Commissioner Shea: It runs the gamut. We tend to do better on these types of rapes. We do very well on all of them but on these, we have several investigative leads that Bob’s detectives can utilize and we use all of them against the perpetrators. So, we tend to make arrests but that doesn’t – the arrest is not the point in this. We – as the commissioner said, we don’t want anyone in the future being victimized.
Mayor: Alright listen guys, we got to shut down that. Last question and then we’re going to – hold on, hold on. Finish, two three – we’re done, finished.
Deputy Commissioner Shea: That would be conjecture on my part. I couldn’t say. There’s many theories out there. The theory that keeps being mentioned is the reporting and people coming forward at a higher rate but that would be just conjecture.
Question: Can you tell me a little bit about the Bronx shooting on Saturday [inaudible] surprised when you find out or your reaction to Officer Stuart was actually shot by a fellow cop up there and not [inaudible].
Commissioner Bratton: As we tell you when we conduct those press conferences, everything is preliminary because some stories change dramatically. Those of you who were up there – some of you covered that event and have covered it subsequently – it’s a very confusing circumstance, multiple shooters, multiple stabbers, several hundred people running in a lot of different directions, as well as, in our case, because of the large melee, a large number of officers initially responding from several different units. So, as we’re going forward with our investigation, that what we attempted to do is, as soon as we were aware that there was – once we got the fragments out of the officer’s ankle and were able to analyze it, it became apparent that he had not been shot by any of the individuals who were firing during that event but had been wounded, in fact, by one of the other responding officers. So, it’s a friendly fire situation – does not take away from the circumstance of the other individuals who were there firing into the crowd, firing at the police, and as well as the five stab victims that we had as part of that incident.
Question: [Inaudible] was he plainclothes –
Commissioner Bratton: He was plain-clothes in the 40 Precinct Anti-Crime Unit. Additionally, we had uniformed units but one of the other responding plain-clothes units was out of our SRG unit that happened to be in the area. We had a lot of resources up in the Bronx that weekend because of some of the incidents we were tracking.
Mayor: I just want to say the – first of all, thank God Officer Stuart is doing well and is predicted to make a full recovery. Second of all, he did an absolutely outstanding job in addressing the challenge that he came upon and as did all the officers. They were able to stop that situation, obviously, arrest a number of people. So, thank God he’s going to be well in the end.
Question: There was a meeting you had today with – for the Commissioner – with some members of the City Council where a wide range of issues were discussed including some of the police reform bills and one of the attendees at the meeting expressed some frustration that you didn’t present, maybe, a detailed response to your position on the Right To Know Act and things like that. I was wondering if you could just elaborate on your position and whether or not you were –
Mayor: Just one quick second, commissioner. I just want to say that I’ve had this conversation with Speaker Mark-Viverito and the council members many times. There’s been very productive on-going conversations and [inaudible] many matters and complicated matters. So, I just want to affirm the commissioner’s been – and his team have been important partners in that dialogue but there’s a lot we’re still talking through.
Commissioner Bratton: The meeting you referred to this morning was at their request. The minority caucus of the City Council – 26 members, I think, during the course of the two-hour meeting that had been scheduled for one-hour – we agreed to stay for the extra hour because they had so many questions. We covered a wide-range of topics. One was the legislation the 13, 14 bills whatever it is. Secondly, we discussed, with some intimacy, the new disciplinary systems. The department is working with a lot of discussion around the new applicant recruitment training initiatives that the department, under Commissioner Tucker, is putting in place. So, they also want to discuss some of their concerns as – in reference to being able to interact with the department. We gave them instructions on, certainly, dealing with their precinct commanders, their borough commanders and we will be getting over to them the latest department directory, so they have the latest information to improve that ability to interact with them. So, I thought it was a, from my perspective, a very productive two-hour meeting with, I think, approximately 15 of the caucus came and went during the course of those two hours.
Mayor: Okay. Thanks, everyone.