April 27, 2017
Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: Afternoon, everyone. Thanks for being here. Today, the NYPD is beginning the first phase of our body-worn camera roll out. Approximately 60 police officers who wear the cameras on control here in the 3-4 precinct, which covers Washington Heights and Inwood. In about two square miles, this precinct represents a great ethnic, cultural, and economic mix of residents, workers, and visitors to New York City. It offers a fantastic snapshot of what it's like to be a cop in New York City.
Our calls for service here, 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 jobs run the gambit from the relatively mundane to the extremely serious. Mayor de Blasio will speak in a couple minutes followed by NYPD's First Deputy Commissioner, Ben Tucker, who as you know, has been intimately involved with this project, with this process from the outset. I want to make clear that this pilot program is much more extensive than was required by the court. As a department, we have been eager to move forward on this, and as the First-Dep will point out, it's been an arduous process, but necessarily so.
We do not take this task lightly. We've sought and received a lot of community feedback throughout the whole process. All told, this pilot program will encompass 20 NYPD commands and more than 1,000 officers wearing cameras. In June, we'll go to Brooklyn followed by more precincts in each of the five boroughs in successive months through the fall. When that's done, we'll begin rolling out body cameras and other commands as part of phase two. Having been a cop for the last 34-and-a-half years, I'll tell you that this technology, when it first became available and was put into use by other agencies – I wasn't entirely convinced that wearing a camera on patrol was something I would have personally wanted to do.
As you all know, I've been a police officer for a very long time. It's not a question of doing anything inappropriate, it's just a question of everything that you do all day long when that camera's on, now people have an opportunity to see. You know what? I did my due diligence. I did some research. PERF has a fantastic report, the Police Executive Research Forum, about what body cameras are all about and what they're capable of doing and they changed my mind. I'm totally convinced now that this is the way forward.
I truly believe that these cameras have a great potential to de-escalate and that the footage capture will overwhelmingly benefit everyone involved. All of this today, indeed everything we do as a department is geared towards officer safety and our neighborhood policing philosophy and our never ending mission in fighting crime and keeping people safe in every corner of New York City. I want to thank Deputy Inspector Mundo, the CO here, and all the hard working men and women of the 3-4 precinct for helping us find a way forward together. They were one of the first precincts that had neighborhood policing, as you remember, is the 3-3, the 3-4, and 100 and 1-0-1. Now we're asking them to be the first precinct with body-worn cameras.
With that, I'd like to turn it over to our Mayor. Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, Commissioner. Thank you for your leadership. This is an important day. This is a historic day for New York City. Once again, the 3-4 precinct leads the way. This is the first day of the era of body-worn cameras, and that means we are going on a pathway of transparency and accountability that will benefit everyone. I appreciated very deeply what Commissioner O'Neill just said. This is technology over the last few years people have been wondering about, what it would mean. Would it be a benefit? I think it's clear from all the research and the work being done around the country, the answer is a resounding yes.
Body-worn cameras will be good for community members and officers alike, because when there is a sense of consistency, when there is a fundamental belief that there will be accountability and transparency, everyone benefits. It helps to encourage trust. It helps to ensure that the facts are clear and objective for all. This is an important day, because we have been on a pathway of improving the relationship between police and community for years now, but there's more to do. Body-worn cameras are going to bring police and community closer together. They're going to help us to create the partnership we've needed for a long time, and it all begins today, here in the 3-4 precinct in Washington Heights.
I want to thank everyone who's gathered here. My deepest appreciation to the men and women of the 3-4 precinct. They've had extraordinary success in recent years driving down crime and, again, they've been in the vanguard of improving the relationship between police and community through the neighborhood policing philosophy. This is one of the best places in New York City to see that philosophy in action. It makes a lot of sense that this is the first precinct to have body worn cameras.
I want to thank all the leaders of the NYPD here. You're going to hear from First Deputy Commissioner Tucker in a moment. I also want to thank Chief of Patrol, Terry Monahan, all the other leaders present. You're going to hear as well from our elected officials who have been so supportive of the effort to create a greater transparency and accountability.
Look, we know this is the way forward. This is what we have to do because it makes us safer. There was a question for years, not just what the Commissioner asked, but other questions about whether efforts to draw police and community together were just feel good or whether they were actually about driving down crime. The last three years proves that when you improve trust and communication between police and community, it also drives down crime. Information flows between police and community, so police can do their job better and be safer at the same time.
The body cameras, because they will instill trust and confidence, are going to open up even greater possibilities for partnership. Now, I have to tell you, the results of the last few months in particular in terms of driving down crime are very clear. First three months of this year, the safest quarter in the history of New York City, but what's so interesting is at the same time we're seeing another very important trend. We're seeing a reduction in complaints by residents against police officers, because the relationship is improving, because the communication is getting better.
The year 2016, we had the lowest number of complaints against officers in 15 years. That's important on many levels. That says that the relationship is better. It says that the work that the PD is doing is obviously positively influenced by the intensive training our officers have been getting as result of the initiatives created by Commissioner Bratton and Commissioner O'Neill. It's changing how things are happening on the ground. It's changing expectations in a positive way, and it also means our officers know as community residents feel more trust and there are fewer complaints. That is good for everyone involved. That's good for moral, that's good for the officer's ability to stay focused on job-one, which is making everybody safe.
We're proud to see this progress. We know that what we've been dealing with here is not a set of challenges that only developed in the last decade. It's a set of challenges that go back for many decades. For a long time, there were too many places where there was mistrust between police and community. It was rooted in problems in our history as a city and as a country. You don't overcome that overnight, but what's amazing is how quickly change can happen. That huge reduction in complaints is because the trust is growing rapidly. You talk to officers in our neighborhood policing program and they consistently say they get more information.
Folks in the community, because they start to build a relationship with officers, go to officers proactively, give them information so they can stop crimes before they happen. We believe that body cameras are only gonna deepen that kind of dialogue and that kind of sharing information that our officers need. We're gonna be smart about how we manage this program and we're gonna learn along the way. Anybody who thinks they have all the perfect answers about how this is gonna play out, needs to recognize something of this magnitude will be a work in progress. We'll learn along the way the things that we can make better, but we know for sure that there will be more trust as a result. We know for sure we'll have more objective information in those instances where that footage becomes important.
The numbers, again, we start with 1,000 officers in key areas of the city. By next year, 5,000 patrol officers will have body cameras. By the end of 2019, every single patrol officer will have body cameras in New York City. This has been a big effort, a complicated effort.
Look, other cities have adopted this technology, but none of them are dealing with our situation. At 36,000 officers, there's no police force in the country comes even close to the size and complexity of the NYPD. There's no city that comes close to the size and complexity of New York City. This had to be done carefully and it had to be done right, but I'll tell you something. It is an example of the strength the NYPD as a place of constant innovation. This is the same organization that recognized through CompStat almost a quarter century ago that revolutionary change could happen in policing. Because the NYPD was bold enough to institute a whole new strategy like CompStat, we're a much safer city today, 25 years later.
So many other innovations have happened along the way. In the last three years particularly, the focus on training and the constant evolution of that training approach, the focus on de-escalation, the growing focus on implicit bias training and how to help weed out the biases of our culture so our officers can be the best they can be. These changes are happening and all glued together by the powerful strategy of neighborhood policing. Something that's being done on a scale and with a strategic clarity that's never been attempted before in this city.
This department is great because it's not complacent. I got to tell you, in three years working with the leadership of the NYPD, one of the most striking things has been how there's a constant yearning to do better and an unwillingness to ever rest on their laurels.
We understand how high the stakes are. We understand the mission is to protect human lives. Complacency is not acceptable. This is an example the kind of innovation that has become common place at the NYPD. The only thing that's not allowed at the NYPD is sitting still and failing to innovate. This is an agency under the leadership of Commissioner O'Neill that's constantly improving. It's why we have become as safe as we are. It's why we're the safest big city in America, that willingness to keep changing and improving.
I'm very encouraged today. I'm very optimistic today. This is the beginning of something really big and something very good for New York City. It's gonna make us safer. Mark my words. This is going to make us safer. A few words in Spanish.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, I want to turn to a man who has been deeply involved in the development of this body camera strategy and the training that goes with it, and one of the authors of so many of the changes that have happened the last three years to the betterment of all New Yorkers and the NYPD. First Deputy Commissioner, Ben Tucker.
First Deputy Commissioner Ben Tucker, NYPD: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Good afternoon, everyone. Perfect.
Yeah. Excellent, thank you. Fantastic.
What I'm going to do is just give you an overview. Some of you have heard some of this, but I want to take you back in because it think it's worth reflecting on this initiative given what a powerful message I think it sends to both to the comments that Commissioner O'Neill made and to the Mayor's comments about how this is yet another, I think, milestone in our road to really rebuilding trust here in the city.
It's taken us a while to get here, and I want to hold up one of the cameras so you get a sense of what it is we're talking about. We have 58 of these on our officers here in the 3-4 as of today. Our officers, as we speak, are out on the street. They're beginning their four to 12 tour. Just wanted to give you a sense of what this looks like.
Mayor: Show them how easy it is to turn on and off.
Deputy Commissioner Tucker: On and off. On, off. Simple. We're right here, one more time. On, off. Okay? Before I get into my remarks in earnest, I just have to acknowledge a couple of people. I just want to acknowledge Deputy Commissioner Jessie Tisch. You all know Jess. She's led, among other things, she's led all the things, information technology-related to this extraordinary and complex effort from procurement to the roll out to the technology, the storage, and the training, and the ongoing monitoring of the contract with our contract with our contractor Vievu.
I also want to acknowledge Assistant Deputy Commissioner Nancy Hoppock, who is part of our risk management team at the department along with Assistant Chief Pontillo, who's not with us today. They have led a coordinated oversight and collaboration efforts with the federal monitor and the plaintiffs in the stop-and-question litigation with a view toward helping us move ahead with the remedial measures, the curriculum development, training, and so forth all related to both stop-and-frisk policy reconstruction as well as body-worn camera policy development.
As Commissioner O'Neill indicated, we've been engaged in this journey to bring body-worn cameras to New York City and the NYPD since the spring of 2014. Throughout this period, we've worked very closely with the federal monitor, Peter Zimroth and his team, to develop the body-worn camera pilot, which we are rolling out today. From the beginning, we've believed that the body worn cameras will enhance our transparency and accountability here in the city, and also I think improve what we've been striving for the last three years, plus how we can increase the amount of trust between our officers and our cops.
It's a big deal, and I think we're gonna be in great shape. It was critical to us that we get this right, as right as we can possibly get it. We did a few things that I just want to mention in that regard. We conducted an extensive research and development platform, and developed it and did unprecedented outreach to get a sense of what it's like and what it's been like with other departments around the country. We examine 50 policies from 50 different agencies. We surveyed model policies coming out of the Justice Department, the Police Executive Research Forum, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, as well as put together an internal stakeholder working group focused on operation issues so we make sure we get it right and support our officers as we begin this journey. We engaged in an extensive outreach seeking input from other stakeholders such as the Civilian Complaint Review Board, other oversight bodies like the Inspector General, our DA's as well. Certainly our Law Department.
We worked with the NYU Marron Institute and the NYU Law School to help us put together the surveys that I'll reference a little later. We work with our City Council, certainly, and the Public Advocate as well as the federal monitor and the parties to the stop-and-frisk litigation.
For the first time, the NYPD sought public input. This is, I think, remarkable and something I want to underscore. Public input from our officers, from the public and from our officers in this regard, and NYU as I mentioned a second ago, the law school and the Marron Institute helped us conduct two surveys. In one survey, we surveyed the public to get input and their thoughts around the implementation of body-worn cameras and what they think. 25,000 responses came in and with respect to our officers, we surveyed 5,000 of them and those responses came in as well. We used that information and the feedback from those studies, from those surveys to help inform the policy for operating, we will operate under as we go forward.
Important to note that we've never done this before and in putting in or taking the feedback that we receive from the responses for both the citizens and the officers, it's impacted the way in which we've structured the policy. In regard to lifting the ban on body-worn cameras for use at protests, that's one of the changes that was recommended in the responses and we took heed of that.
Also, mandatory notice by our officers to citizens that they are being recorded, is another, just one other example of some of the changes we've made. We listened to what came back to us from those two sources, from our officers as well as from the citizen. With respect to training – in preparation for the pilot, there was a roll out for the officers in two phases.
First phase took place this week for this group of 58 officers. It consists of lectures and facilitated discussions, video, a lot of focus on scenario-based exercises. They took an online quiz and they worked hands-on at the Police Academy in our mock environment to practice using the cameras, to practice uploading, plugging it into the charger and uploading the data from the cameras as they will do at the end of every tour. The training is conducted at the academy and the second phase of the training will be a 90-day field training program. One of the things, this is a pilot, we want to help officers get comfortable with the new technology and so that will happen over a 90-day period while they're on patrol back in the commands.
That process has begun here in the 3-4. The training sergeants assigned to all [inaudible] the commands where the cameras will be assigned will be supervising this process in conjunction with our staff from both Jessie's shop and the Office of Information Technology as well as our risk management bureau.
Then finally, outreach. Outreach has been critical and will, I think, continue to be critical as it relates to community awareness, giving everyone an understanding and some information around what it is we're doing. In order to prepare officers and the community, we've engaged in a variety, an outreach in a variety of ways, and that will continue. We have the public report. I don't know, Steve, if we have copies of it, but if we don't, we can get available.
We also have a public information video that will air pretty wide throughout the city. Information bulletins, tri-fold, I actually have a couple of these. These will be in multi-languages, so this is one in Spanish, one in English. We'll be using, and these will be available to the public so that they can have a sense of and provide some detail on just how the program works and what we're looking to accomplish as part of the program.
That's a quick summary of where we're going with the process. I think we are, in speaking with some of the young officers who started, went out on patrol yesterday and began the process, it seems to me that they've embraced it with full gusto in terms of what they hope to expect. That's a good sign, so thank you.
Mayor: Thank you very much. I want you to hear from elective officials who represent this community where this new era is beginning. Both of them have been deeply involved in efforts to ensure that there was a fair and positive relationship between police and community and that we did better at fighting crime while creating fairness at the same time. They both understand the importance of this day for people who live here in the 3-4 precinct. First, it's my pleasure to introduce State Senator Marisol Alcantara. Sneak around here.
Mayor: Thank you, Senator. Now Assembly,ember, Carmen de la Rosa. Here we go.
Mayor: All right, thanks very much, Steve. That was very helpful to get that perspective. You can see how clear the images are and again that will be part of why they will help so much in the day they work going forward. I'm going to take questions on body cameras, and then after that we'll take questions on some other topics as well, go ahead.
Question: This is for Commissioner Tisch. What does this look like at night and how different is this than the model you guys tested, I guess two years ago, which looked a little bit different?
Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology, Jessica Tisch: By design, the cameras show what the human eye would see, so they're not high definition cameras. At night, it's dark out, the video is darker. It doesn't lighten up the area.
Two years ago when we did our pilot, we used two different types of cameras. We piloted the Taser cameras and the Vievu cameras. We are using the Vievu cameras. They are slightly different than the ones – the more recent version that we piloted two years ago.
Question: I know the court case was tossed a few days ago, but what do you say to the critics who worry that officers will have a chance to watch this video early on say, "Oh yeah, that's what happened.”
Commissioner O’Neill: The process to get here was long, and I know we had to move forward as a department and as a city. I was Chief of Department when this process started, so as we move forward and we see that there's tweaks that need to be made, we'll do that. Have faith. This is – everything that we do, we do to build trust and to make this city safe and body-worn cameras are going to do that.
Question: For maybe Commissioner Tucker, the ongoing assessment as a program on roles, how is that gonna take place? Is it gonna be every 90 days? You're going to do a continuing basis?
Deputy Commissioner Tucker: Yeah, that's a great question, Tony. It's going to continue. It's an experiment, and so we'll be constantly reviewing it. In addition, the federal monitor, he basically structured the evaluation for this project. He has a professor who's going to manage that process from their perspective and he has a particularly narrow focus on primarily stop-and-frisk and the efficacy of the cameras for focusing on and providing information around stops and frisks, but obviously, our officers wearing cameras – there will be a lot more that those cameras will capture.
We also, the department, has a vested interest in looking at what we can learn along the way as these cameras are operational. There's two essentially, there's the longitudinal evaluation that the monitor will conduct for a year, but we have an interest in looking at every aspect of how the operational side, but also just what we can learn and also the impact of some of the questions that have been raised around how long they're on, how long they're off, when and where and so forth.
Question: Question for the Commissioner. We saw the sample where the police officer's asking the driver, this is being recorded. What do you expect the community to do in those cases? What's the reaction? You train your officers, but how do you want the public to deal with this?
Commissioner O'Neill: We're telling people that we're recording them. This way, everybody knows, and just act accordingly. If there's a car-stop, everybody acts professionally. That's the beauty of body-worn cameras here as a de-escalator for everybody. Be on your best behavior. I think it's gonna go a long way to, as I said before, building trust. I think it's a great way forward.
Mayor: Yeah, I just want to throw in on that. I think it's going to be welcomed by community members. We've seen in the last few years in this country informal cellphone video footage sometimes, in moments that were very, very difficult to watch. This is the biggest police department in the country saying we're very comfortable that we're doing things the right way. Our officers are doing things the right way. They're being trained the right way. We want that transparency. We're telling any New Yorker who a police officer encounters that they are going to be recorded. That's also a statement of reassurance to them. There's gonna be a moment where we're going to ask you some questions, raise a concern, but it's all going to be captured. I think for a lot of New Yorkers, that's going to be truly reassuring.
Question: If a police officer gets to review footage, why shouldn't a civilian be able to do the same thing?
Commissioner O'Neill: Nancy, you want to talk about this a little bit, how we came to this decision? Yeah.
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Nancy Hoppock, Risk Management Bureau: May I stay here?
Mayor: Explain the different scenarios, because I think people need to understand that.
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: I'm glad we got that question, because I think in the last week or two weeks, there's a lot of misinformation out there about what the policy requires and doesn't require and should require. How is body camera footage going to play out? Well, it could play out in a number of places. It could play out in a criminal case. It could play out in a CCRB, or it could play out in a FOIL. Let's take the CCRB. It's not an arrest, it's a Terry stop – a stop-and-frisk, the person on the other end of this Terry stop doesn't like the way he was treated by the police officer, and we found that in over 90 percent of those cases, if the person's going to complain about it, he walks into the CCRB within a month. That video will be up there, and all he has to do is – doesn't even have to give the officer's name. The officer should tell him his name if he's asked, but all he has to give us is the date, the approximate time, and the area, and we're going to find that video.
He is going to get to see that video. It's not a game of ‘gotcha.’ It's not that our officers are going to get to look at it before he goes down to the CCRB and makes a statement. We're making that video available to the CCRB. Now, if it's a criminal case, and imagine yourself as a juror and the prosecutor's theory of the case is that those drugs were in his pocket, and the defense wants you to believe those drugs were planted. Is the body camera going to answer all our questions? They are not. You saw that view. The officer gets to go like this, the camera doesn't, but in many of these cases, criminal cases, the video is going to shed a lot of light and maybe even be the best evidence.
Who's the civilian on the other end of, "Why can't I see that?" Well, the defendant's going to see it. He's going to get it within 15 days of his arraignment and the jury is going to see it too. Now, what if that public is just you all? Media. It's a domestic violence job where officers are responding to an apartment and there's little kids on the couch in their pajamas. Are we gonna release that video to the public? I don't know. Probably not. At least not in that form, because we're showing up in people's lives at the worst moment of the day, week, month, year, life and the people on the other side of our cameras have a privacy [inaudible].
We talk about shared responsibility, but we have shared responsibility in this device of how are we going to use this footage? If you look at experiences in Seattle, if we're not careful about what we share and how we share it – and it shouldn't be a game of gotcha. This is gonna add transparency on so many levels for all of us – but we have to protect the people we serve in more ways than one. Some of that is being careful with this footage because we're seeing very painful, private moments of people's live. Does that answer your question?
Question: Not exactly.
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: Okay.
Question: [Inaudible] ‘gotcha’ for the police officer, he gets to see it. Isn't the game of ‘gotcha’ for the civilian?
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: No, because in a CCRB, if they're both coming to this venue to say, "I was aggrieved" and “No, I did my job,” they're both going to see that footage at the beginning of the matter. In a criminal case, everybody's going to – I think, with an officer seeing his own footage, you really have to look and think about it two ways. Officer Hoppock’s on patrol and makes a routine arrest. Do I get to see the video of my pursuit and the recovery of evidence before I sit down with the prosecutor and swear out a complaint? We surveyed the entire country. There isn't a single police department that prohibits an officer from seeing his own – the video he made for us before he raises his hand and says, "I better get this right".
That's just the routine case. Then there's the use of force. Officer Hoppock goes out on patrol and shoots somebody, God forbid, an officer-involved shooting. In that case, while I am the subject of a criminal investigation, that video is locked down and I'm not seeing it. This is complex, friends. We tried to share some information about this a few weeks ago, and I regretted to see that some of it didn't come out into the public domain accurately. I ask you, we wrote about this. We took the trouble to ask 25 – we took the trouble to ask 8.4 million New Yorkers what they thought, and 25,000 of them took the time to write us back.
We listened to what they said very carefully. Sometimes we changed what we did because of what they said, and sometimes we couldn't because we felt it wasn't the responsible line to draw and we explained it in our report. This, what we're talking about right now, is complicated.
Mayor: Hold on let me jump in, hold on. Hold on, hold on, let me add to this point. I think we're talking about the net gain here. Meaning, before today, we didn't have a lot of the information we would have wanted to have. We are now embarking on a new era. We'll have a much clearer understanding of what happened in each encounter between police and community. We also know we don't have all the answers today. A lot of work – years of work went into figuring out the best policy for New York City. Looking at what worked and didn't work in other cities, looking at the best academic research, etcetera.
But as for what I said in the beginning, and I'm going to own this point – this is a work in progress, it will build out over time. We are reserving the right to make adjustments in the policy as we go along. I know one thing for sure, we will be better off today than we were yesterday because there's going to be a lot more information available because people are going to have more assurance that the facts will be available, when in the past, in many instances, there was no way to independently confirm the facts, but a very fair question you're asking. But I want to say we have an initial sense and Commissioner can speak to this more as well of what that balance should be, but we also know as we go through 1,000 officers and then 5,000 officers, in practice, we may learn things that lead to policy changes.
Question: Just if I can ask, when you say we're not playing ‘gotcha,’ what does that mean? What does ‘gotcha’ mean?
Commissioner O’Neill: We're not looking to surprise anybody here. What we're looking to do with body-worn cameras, bottom line is get to the truth. This is going to enable us to do it.
Question: [Inaudible] some cases officers have or known to do wrong things. What's your methods to officers who are wearing these cameras who may say, "Oh, my camera broke. Oh, I didn't record" when they're –
Commissioner O’Neill: No, [inaudible] as we go through this pilot project, there will be consequences during some period, of people who don't follow policies and procedures. Not initially, there's a learning curve here. This is something new for police officers, so we have to give them the opportunity to learn how to do this, but there will be a point in time in the future when they don't follow policies and procedures, there will be consequences.
Question: A question about the mentor recording. One of the problems that the lawyers [inaudible] pointed out is that the officers aren't required to record from the beginning and this may be a technical question. Do the cameras record the 30 seconds of buffer video that show what happen before they turn them on or –
Question: Okay. Thanks.
Commissioner O’Neill: Do you need anything more than that or is that good?
Question: I have plenty of other questions, but I'm going to be –
Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah?
Question: I don't know who can best address in terms of activating the camera, at what point is an officer trained to activate the camera [inaudible] some concerns that [inaudible] low-level encounter –
Commissioner O’Neill: Ben will walk you through that.
Deputy Commissioner Tucker: The rule is – what we put into policy is we have mandated activation. Our expectation is that when you turn out and you go on patrol, you will turn that camera on when you’re engaged in, certainly, any arrests process if a reasonable suspicion, the stop-and-frisk approach, any of that. If you're doing a car stop, the camera's on. Preferably, as soon as possible when you are in the public space, we want the cameras rolling. That's the plan. That's what we're expecting our officers to do. There's a whole list of mandated occasions when we want those cameras to be running.
Question: When is it okay for an officer not to have the camera on?
Deputy Commissioner Tucker: Okay.
Question: [Inaudible] limited to that.
Deputy Commissioner Tucker: Yeah, so we have cases where we don't want the cameras on. One of them is where the citizen says, "I don't want to be recorded." If that person has a witness to a crime or some other conduct and they don't want to be recorded, then the camera will be turned off. The officer can turn – exercise some discretion – turn that camera off. If it's, as someone said earlier, that we go into people's homes. Someone on an [inaudible] case and someone says, "We want that camera to be off. We don't really want my elderly person or my child who's sick to be recorded", those kinds of things.
Victims of sexual assault cases as you all can imagine, those are not the kinds of video that we want to have.
Mayor: Let me just add. Could you bring out the camera again for a second?
Deputy Commissioner Tucker: Sure.
Mayor: Look, this is, really want to emphasize – beginning of a new era. I want to emphasize right here. On, off. The point of this is they've made it technologically very, very simple to act on the situation, but the important point is the training. Our Commissioner, our First Deputy Commissioner, having refocused the entire department on more training. Our officers are getting a very detailed sense of how to use these, when to use these, when to exercise that discretion, but I want to emphasize, they can do that literally the flick of a finger. It takes a second to turn it on and off.
Question: [Inaudible] follow up. In the moments, say, between runs, you're in your car, you're just maybe walking down the street. What are the – sort of a gray area. Something could happen –
Commissioner O’Neill: If I'm with my partner, if I'm talking to my supervisor, that's not a gray area. We're not looking to impede that conversation, or if I'm just an NCO talking to somebody in the neighborhood. Is there a need to record that? No. Trust works both ways. We can't constantly have the cameras rolling, otherwise very few people would end up talking to us.
Deputy Commissioner Tucker: Administrative duties, those kinds of things you're not recording.
Question: Are you concerned that by asking officers – giving them this gray area, this area where they aren't required to record certain encounters, but they approach a person on the street – that asking them to turn their cameras on when that situation possibly escalates, are you concerned that you're going to lose, that they're going to forget and not record at all?
Commissioner O’Neill: Actually, that's part of the process. That's why we have this pilot project. This is why we give the police officers the time to learn this. This is new muscle memory for them.
Question: We've seen this [inaudible] visit Denver. I'm wondering, why aren't we sure about where you stand on that already, seeing that it's happened –
Commissioner O’Neill: It's pretty clear guidelines, and when a camera's ought to be one. We spell it out fairly clearly. There is some gray area and again, we don't want to impede all the progress that's been made with all the communities throughout New York City over the last couple of years. Tony?
Question: In terms of when you're talking to a cop that's talking to somebody who's a potential confidential informer, work confidential informer, the camera's stay off.
Deputy Commissioner Tucker: [Inaudible] stay off, for obvious reasons.
Question: This might have been covered already, so I apologize, but it seems like other jurisdictions have broader mandates for when it should be used for all investigated or enforcement encounters, and I'm wondering why you chose to limit it rather than to have that broader –
Commissioner O’Neill: Nancy, you want to talk about that?
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: Sure.
Question: Can you say your name and spell it for us?
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: Sure. It's –
Mayor: Let's get this for you first, hold on, before you say and spell your name, let's give you more height.
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: Thanks, a lot. It's Nancy Hoppock. H-O-P-P-O-C-K.
I kind of take issue with the characterization that ours is narrower, because it is absolutely, positively the industry norm and it's pretty specific. If you think about any encounter that an officer is going to have with a member of the public, our policy says it's got to be on. It's any summons, any arrest, any use of force, an interior patrol. If I am walking up to you and I have any level of suspicion whatsoever of criminality directed at you, it is on.
You asked a question. You said, "Are you worried that it could so rapidly evolve from I think you're a witness and then you become a suspect in my mind and I haven't gone like this." Well, we're at get-go, so we don't know, but based on the video that I saw last night, I am not worried at all because those officers were doing exactly what they were trained to do, which is when in doubt, you turn it on. What we are leaving out is – you see our officers are equipped with the antidote for a heroin overdose. Do we want to mandate that they record that? That is an interaction with the public. That's what that would mean.
We would take vacation days from a police officer if he fails to record administering maybe a life saving medical treatment. We don't want to punish an officer, so he's going to have to record anything that is at all an enforcement action, and that is consistent with other departments.
Question: I'm wondering, you've talked about how there are changes that you anticipate making throughout the course of the pilot. Can you talk about what success looks like and what you define as a success? I know you talk about the trust between police and community but is there a numerical definition or how will you know that this is working?
Mayor: I'll offer my view. Commissioner and First Deputy Commissioner can offer a police perspective, but from my perspective, look, the trends we just talked about at the beginning. Crime has gone down, complaints against police have gone down. We certainly see more cooperation between police and community as a result of neighborhood policing and more information flowing to police. These are facts. We need to continue that and deepen that. That's, to me, the most essential measure. I think it will not happen overnight. I think these things – everything takes time to get used to when you're talking about human beings, but if those trends continue, I think it confirms that this is value added.
I don't think it's about – how many specific incidents are you capturing? I think it's about what it does for the overall relationship between police and community.
Deputy Commissioner Tucker: I think in terms of what success looks like, depends on the circumstances. If I'm the federal monitor, who will have access to this video, and they're looking at the video for purposes of just having a sense of just having a sense of whether or not a constitutional stops are actually happening or whether or not, in fact, a stop runs counter to being constitutional. That's success. Are we learning what we, and seeing what we hope to see and is what we see, does it suggest that we need more training based on the officer's conduct? Does it suggest that the officer should be held accountable and maybe disciplined for how they've conducted themselves when they were handling that job, that encounter?
Or it may be that they're looking at Officer Tucker conduct a proper car stop and that [inaudible] will be as it's evaluated be something that will tell us that he's doing his job properly or she's doing her job correctly, and that's a good thing. I think it's a great question and I think what we'll learn over the next year and get all sorts of responses and answers and be able to assess what's up, what's good, what's bad, what is suggested about how we may need to change our procedures and so forth.
Question: How often do you, sorry, how often do you suspect to personally view these videos? Only when there's a major controversy or a spot check? When are you guys going pull the tape for –
Commissioner O’Neill: I'm gonna take a look at them. There is a supervisory review and as we go forward with the pilot project, I think it would be important for Ben, myself, Chief Monahan, Chief Gomez to periodically review it.
Question: What happens, Commissioner, if an officer comes back from patrol and says, "Shoot, I was recording when I didn't have to be recording and I didn't realize I was recording and I might have said something on the recording that I shouldn't have, but it's really not that big a deal; is there a way for us to edit it or delete it?”
Commissioner O’Neill: No, it's not going to be deleted, it's not going to be edited. It's going to be part of a process. If the police officer can learn from that, he or she will learn from it. If there needs to be discipline, there'll be discipline based on it, also.
Deputy Commissioner Tucker: I would just add to that that –
Mayor: Come on over to the microphone.
Deputy Commissioner Tucker: I would just add that in terms of editing, these can't be edited. Once the officers come in, they put it in the caddy, they upload the video, it's now in the Cloud and that's it. They will never have access. No one will be able to tamper with it, edit it in any way, delete it in any way. We want to make sure that the integrity and in part the technology in a way it works, ensures that that's the case.
Question: I was just curious, I wanted to clarify, let's say I don't want to file a CCRB, let’s say I had an encounter that I didn't like. I don't want to file a CCRB [inaudible 00:52:24] it's not criminal. What is the – do I then file a FOIL [inaudible] too long, [inaudible] other cities claim and how much easier mechanism [inaudible] footage of the evidence?
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock:As everybody said – thank you sir, I can just go on my tip toes.
Mayor: No, no, no, no. That's good.
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: Okay, thanks. Yeah, this is one of the six core areas that I think we're going to learn the most from in the next year, and yes, you would have to file a FOIL and we've tried to make it easier. We've got an online form, we've got a website and as a first party requester, we should be processing those expeditiously. The trickier part is when it's not a first party. It's not your encounter. Then that becomes a much more complicated FOIL analysis. We're gonna try our best.
Question: This question is for the Mayor and possibly the Commissioner. Are you concerned at all that this body camera video will put some undocumented immigrants at risk of being caught up in the President's immigration and deportation policy. And secondly, for Commissioner Hoppock, you mentioned that defendants will see the video within 15 days. I'm wondering how that works.
Mayor: Okay, on the first, no. This is information for the internal use of the NYPD. As was indicated earlier, there are certain situations where the information becomes public, but that's not the typical situation. I think the central question here is will this make us a safer city and will this make us a fairer city? I think the answer is yes to both questions. I see no real impact on the situation of immigrants here in the city.
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: It's easy, it's 15 days within your arraignment. It's in the CPL. It's mandated by law that we have to produce video evidence within 15 days of an arraignment if you're arrested.
Question: They receive that in court or through a motion or is it –
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: It's standard discovery.
Question: Thank you. Can you go back over again how the footage is stored? Where does it live –
Commissioner O’Neill: Jesse, yeah.
Question: – the gate keeper or does it live in One Police Plaza or does it –
Commissioner O’Neill: Jesse, Commissioner Tisch will talk about that.
Deputy Commissioner Tisch: The footage lives in the Cloud. At the end of the tour, the officer will come back to the precinct. He'll stick his body camera in a docking station that will charge the camera and also take the video off of the camera and send it through a secure connection up into the Cloud where we store all the video.
Question: In the Cloud, it's securely managed by NYPD or is it Microsoft who owns it or something?
Deputy Commissioner Tisch: It's stored in what's called Government Cloud, which is a secure part of the Cloud.
Question: [Inaudible] question about [inaudible] How many hours can the cameras film and do any steps need to be taken, are they preventive of being – are they hackable or what security steps have been taken?
Deputy Commissioner Tisch: The cameras have a battery life of 12 hours, which is something we wanted to be sure we had more battery life than we do hours in a standard tour. It's 12 hours. And in terms of hackable, what we've done in New York City is something that's different than we've seen in any other jurisdiction, which is we don't have our body camera application open to the public internet. The NYPD's instance of the Vievu application lives on the NYPD's network, and we did that to ensure more robust security of New York City's body camera video footage than you would see in other jurisdictions.
Question: [Inaudible] where is the time coming from for them to sit down and tag and upload their footage? Are they doing shorter patrol shifts or are they working overtime or something else?
Deputy Commissioner Tisch: A few things. First, they have an application on their smart phone that allows them to review and really tag body camera footage that has been previously uploaded. Second, in the case of an arrest, when you have to come back to the precinct and process that arrest, we have what we call priority docks. The officer can come back into the precinct, put his body camera into the dock. That video will be uploaded. We can upload an hour of video in under ten minutes and so as the arrest process is ongoing, the officer can upload the video and tag pretty quickly from a computer or a smartphone. We saw this work anecdotally very well yesterday in the preliminary testing that we did.
Question: Who isn't allowed to not be recorded? What is a potential punishment or sanction for an officer when properly doesn't record where there should have been a recording?
Mayor: Did you say who isn't allowed to not be recorded?
Question: Let me rephrase [inaudible] let me rephrase. Who cannot tell an officer, "I don't want to be recorded?"
Mayor: Who has the right to say –
Question: You said domestic violence thing and children might not be recorded and a suspect –
Mayor: Witness, witness.
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: Undercovers, informants, sex crimes victims.
Question: Who is not allowed to say, "I don't want to be recorded?"
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: No one – I can't say to an officer, "You can't record me." I can't say that.
Mayor: Wait, wait. I actually think I'm gonna interject. Let's first start at the beginning. Who are we not recording? I know that's not your question, I want everyone else to be clear about who are we not recording. Let's do that again.
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: We are not recording undercovers, confidential informants, and sex crimes victims, but no one has the right to forbid an officer to record him in New York State or a one party consent state. An officer in his discretion may turn it off if you're a witness and would like confidentiality.
Question: The sanction question for officer [inaudible] properly turning the camera off when he or she [inaudible] –
Assistant Deputy Commissioner Hoppock: Yeah, and it depends. Was it unintentional? Was it intentional? Every case we have to look at the facts of the case.
Question: With the body camera, they look like they're clip-ons to the tie, right? Let's say a cop is in pursuit –
Commissioner O’Neill: It's not a clip onto the tie, it's a clip onto the shirt.
Question: Okay, so what if the camera drops? Is it very secure?
Commissioner O’Neill: The clip that we have is state of the art, it's secure. I'm not going to stand up here and say no camera will ever be lost. I've been a cop for too long to say that about police equipment but we're doing our best to make sure to minimize that. Okay.
Unknown: We're going move on to other police topics, please, all right? If anyone has any other police topics.
Question: Two questions. There's been an arrest in the first precinct, an issue of –
Commissioner O’Neill: I'm going to give that, yeah, Chief Boyce will talk about that.
Commissioner O’Neill: Okay, Chief Boyce will talk about that. Bob.
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce: Good afternoon, everybody. We had an incident Monday afternoon at three o'clock down in front of 2 Washington Street, which is right across from Battery Park. Two persons were shot. Thank God not seriously injured, with graze wounds. The next day we put out images of two individuals for the public's help. We got phone calls who identified one of the individuals. A male dressed in blue. We got a call on him through Crime Stoppers. We spoke to him and we were able to identify the second male, who was wearing a black overcoat with a red plaid shirt.
That male has been positively identified. We have apprehended him last night. He has been positively identified in two line ups by the victim and by one of the witnesses. His name is Jason Wright. He resides in Bushwick, Brooklyn. He has 20 prior arrests. He also has an arrest in 1997 for homicide where he did over ten years on. He has been charged with attempted murder, assault-one, and criminal possession of a weapon. Right now, he's being prosecuted for the two shootings that happened in that area. This argument was, it seems over a ticket issue by the [inaudible] and that's where we are right now. We don't have too much more on what started the argument, but we believe it's over ticket sales in that location. Miles, you asked about the 101 case.
Question: Yeah, [inaudible] whatever you have on –
Chief Boyce: We do. Last night about ten o'clock, there was a stabbing at the K&D Internet Café on Union Street. What happened there was, there was several males inside. Three males were playing a game called League of Legends, computer game. They needed another computer and they asked the male next to him if they could take over. He refused. An argument ensued. The three males left and came back with a fourth male and began fighting with that male who refused to give up his computer station.
With that, the male who refused to give up his computer station stabbed one of the males one time in the abdomen. That male was removed to the hospital and he succumbed to his injuries. Patrol immediately responded – detectives, excuse me, detectives immediately started back and arrested that individual and got a full statement from him. He's gonna be charged with homicide. I'm sorry, manslaughter one.
Question: [Inaudible] Chief Monahan about, I know the first precinct's been working with these ticket guys. What are you guys doing in the first precinct down there with these guys who were fighting over a ticket?
Mayor: This is your last one, because everyone else gets a chance.
Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan: Yeah, we've been working really closely with the Department of Consumer Affairs. We have a task force that meets regularly on this. So far this year, we've locked up 39 individuals over there for the illegal sale tickets. We're continuing it on a daily basis.
Commissioner O’Neill: Tony.
Question: Commissioner, I think Friday the Attorney General is gonna be out on Long Island talking about the MS-13 situation. I wanted to know does any – if MS-13 is on your radar here in the city in any significant way in any part of the city?
Commissioner O’Neill: Through our IFO, through our intel bureau, and our gang division. We're constantly looking at gang and crew activity throughout the city. There's been periodic episodes of MS-13 in the 1-10 and the 1-15, but nothing large scale.
Question: Do you have anything on the status of the investigation into the Greenpoint rape, the reported Greenpoint rape?
Commissioner O’Neill: Chief Boyce will speak about that.
Chief Boyce: It was an incident Monday night about 1800 hours where a young lady was walking down the street, on Banker Street, in the 9-4 precinct. She states to us that she was accosted by two males and pulled into a location where a criminal sex act occurred. Patrol immediately responded after they left and were able to get a picture of those two individuals. They put that picture out on department smartphones. Two transit officers over at Barclay Center nearby saw those two individuals and apprehended them.
We brought them in, we called the special victim's division, and began an investigation. Pursuant to that, that case is still open, those two individuals were later voided, but the case is still active with them. One of them was in position of her cell phone. Right now, we're still working on a better case, but the case is not closed. We're working with the King's County prosecutor in regards. That's where we are right now.
Question: Any update on the investigation to the death of Judge Abdus-Salaam?
Chief Boyce: Sure, [inaudible]. That body was released to the family last night. We have nearly completed all of our investigation and we're speaking with the officer – the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to make a final determination where we are right now. The remains of the judge are with the family right now. There will be a funeral service directly thereafter. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will make a statement in regards to that at some point.
Question: President Trump's coming home, so wondering anything unusual as far as around Trump Tower from the presence we're seeing now? [Inaudible] we know he's going to [inaudible] but will this be different from say if –
Commissioner O’Neill: We have multiple layered plans in place. This is what the NYPD does best, handling large crowds. We anticipate May 4th will be a pretty busy day for us. John?
Question: [Inaudible] one last thing. Empty car jack [inaudible] female assaulted?
Chief Boyce: We'll get an update to you.
Question: For the Mayor. Mayor, we had a story today in the Daily News about a couple of teachers who had been arrested, convicted –
Mayor: Let's do the police issues to finish, and then we'll go and go to the others.
Question: Something on MS-13. Have you guys been asked by Suffolk County to lend gang officers to Suffolk County to help out there?
Commissioner O'Neill: Bob.
Chief Boyce: We have a joint task force with the FBI. I spoke with the FBI specifically on MS-13. We will help whatever way we can, but I've spoken with the FBI. We have a minimal problem, and we've made an arrest several years ago – a federal case where we had them in certain part of Queens as the Commissioner said and we haven't seen much on them. They have a very minimal profile here in New York City, but yes, we do have an active task force and we will assist anyway we can.
Mayor: Let me jump in, hold on a second, please. Let me jump in on this. Very important questions were just asked and it gets to the attorney general's obsession with this particular gang. Remember, the Justice Department in writing suggested that gang killings were somehow being tolerated in New York City and we were "caught soft on crime." Look at this situation. You just heard two experts tell you what the exact situation is with MS-13 in New York City.
I asked the Commissioner, has the attorney general ever reached out to him to ask what should be done about this? The answer is no. This is a further evidence. This is posturing and game playing instead of actually trying to address crime, because you'd think if the attorney general wanted to address this problem, he would call the leading police official in the United States of America and ask, "What are you doing? What's going on here? Is it a problem for you? What do you advise?"
I find it deeply troubling when people who don't understand law enforcement try to pass judgment on law enforcement professionals. There's evidence right there that they're not doing this for the reasons they say they are.
Question: Mr. Mayor, [inaudible] with the city because [inaudible] New York and then he said New York City?
Mayor: Look, it's a pretty big omission if that's what happened. I think a lot of things were going on at once when they attempted to do that. I think it was clearly about politics. The attorney general is desperate to portray immigrants as the cause of all our crime problems, and that's just plain false. I've told you, when I met with the then-President Elect and then Senator Sessions the week after the election, I said if you want to know the best way to drive down crime and work with immigrant communities, why don't you call Commissioner O'Neill and other police commissioners around the country and let them advise you. Of course, that has never happened, but he took the time to have his people in writing – in writing say New York City is "soft on crime." This is a charade.
They're not actually serious about driving down crime. If they were serious about driving down crime, they would call the Police Commissioner of New York City and say, "How can we help you do that?" rather than, “How can we attack your officers and the hard work you're doing?”
Question: Commissioner, how does that affect your relationship with the Justice Department when the [inaudible] Sessions says things like this and how does it affect the morale of officers –
Commissioner O'Neill: I spoke about this at length I think it was last Friday. My job is to keep the people in the city safe. I got to keep our police officers focused. They know what they do every day. I know what they do every day. I think most people in New York City know that they're the greatest police department in the world. We're moving forward.
Question: Chief Boyce. I guess it was a – it looks like a break in in Kew Gardens yesterday where there was some gold brick and a lot of cash taken.
Chief Boyce: Yes, I saw the thing today. We're actually investigating that. I think it was $80,000 in cash in gold ingots, excuse me. Queens North detectives are investigating that right now. We're on the block as we speak looking for video and of course we have a crime scene up at the place. That's still going on right now.
Mayor: Mayoral topics, go ahead.
Question: Was hearing in the Daily News today about two –
Mayor: Okay? Is he good? Okay, let's try again.
Mayor: Take three, take three.
Question: The story about two teachers who had been arrested and convicted I think in those cases, and were still getting paid by the Department of Education. I understand they have been fired today after the story. My question is why did it take that long? Why did it take a newspaper story for that to happen? A third teacher who was arrested on Wednesday, still on the payroll, is the system working when that's a possibility?
Mayor: Let me frame it big picture for a number of different reasons. We have had 1,908 teachers that we have helped to move out of the profession here in New York City since we got here. A whole variety of different circumstances, but on the question of do we deal with situations where someone should not be teaching in New York City, that's a body evidence of what's happened in just three years, many more than in previous years. The first two you referenced, it's unacceptable from my point of view. It should have been done much quicker. It's been done now, but that was not handled properly and we're going to put new rules in place to make sure that does not happen again.
On the last situation, I don't know the details. Someone, again, may – I'm not a lawyer, I'm not an expert, there are situations with minor offenses where an arrest for a minor matter before adjudication of that matter does not necessarily lead to termination. There other situations, obviously, where the severity of the charge comes into play. We can get you all those guidelines, but on the two cases today, they were not handled properly. Those folks should have been gone much more quickly.
Question: Can you say the number again, sorry, of teachers?
Mayor: Out of the profession, out of the school system.
Question: [Inaudible] preferential question here, but I couldn't help that notice that in the advisory for this particular press conference, you did not, or your staff, did not make a distinction between it being an on-topic and off-topic –
Mayor: Again, we can talk about this all day. I'd rather talk about the issues facing New Yorkers. We thought this was a pretty exceptional week between the budget, body cameras, Affordable Care Act, federal budget, we decided to throw in some extra questions.
Question: Is this a one time thing or are you –
Mayor: This is something we'll do at times where we think it's worth doing.
Question: Bo Dietl's comments comparing a supreme court judge to the physical appearance of the First Lady. What was your reaction?
Mayor: My reaction is that Bo Dietl, like Donald Trump, somehow thinks that our judges make their decisions based on their race or their ethnicity. That is a thoroughly un-American assumption and it's not acceptable. There is supposed to be respect for the judiciary and I've really never, literally never heard leaders come forward and say, "Oh, that judge made that decision because they're white, because they're black, because they're a man, because they're a woman, because they're from another country." I've never heard that talk before Donald Trump started it. Now Bo Dietl's continuing. It's not American. It's just not American.
Question: Was it a racist comment?
Mayor: It was an inappropriate comment. It is a comment that cast [inaudible] on the whole judiciary and our whole system of democracy, that's the way I would say it.
Question: What was the First Lady's reaction?
Mayor: I think she doesn't pay attention to Bo Dietl.
Question: Following up on that, Bo Dietl was on the Brian Lehrer Show this morning and when Brian followed up with him about that incident last night, he repeatedly just kept calling her, your wife, by the wrong name. I'm wondering if you could speak to that and what does that say to you in terms of the caliber of respect he's bringing to the race and to women to not be able to identify her by her actual name?
Mayor: This is the first moment anyone's paying much attention to him in this race, and he has proven to insult judges and insult women, and I don't think people are going to take him seriously, honestly. Go ahead.
Question: Yes, with Trump coming on Monday, I know Commissioner [inaudible] spoke to that, I noticed an ongoing situation trying to get to administration to ante up the pay for security. What's the update on that? Have you heard from –
Mayor: That's one of the budget issues that's happening right this minute. I've had a series of conversations over the last few weeks with key Democratic and Republican members of the House. I remain hopeful. A few weeks back, I talked to some members of the Trump administration on this issue. I'll be talking to them more. I think there's a real clear understanding about the Congress and the White House that this is an exceptional situation. Whether people will follow through on that understanding and recognize this as the national expense it is, we're not gonna pass judgment yet.
The conversations have been good. We do expect some action in the continuing resolution. The big question right now is will the continuing resolution happen now, happen in a week? We don't know.
Mayor: Well, remember the first concern we have is the period between the election and inauguration. That's really the core of this. That was about $24 million. Since then, the cost has gone down depending on the day and circumstance. It's about roughly between $125,000 and $150,000 a day. Still, if you extrapolate that because one of the things we'd like to see is a formula going forward for us, for Florida, for New Jersey so everyone's got the same ground rules – if you extrapolate our daily costs, you're talking about $46 million a year. It's very serious money.
From my point of view, we need to start with getting the money that was owed us up until the inauguration covered and then hopefully in the continuing resolution at least the beginning of a formula for going forward. Yeah?
Question: In terms of the Amtrak repairs at Penn Station. I don't know if you want to weigh in on that specifically, but are you concerned that without an economic impact, if people can't or don't want to come into the city to work.
Mayor: I'm concerned about the economic impact. I'm even more concerned about the disruption that could exist to our whole transportation system if these problems become more chronic. The northeast corridor, the entire thing can be shut down with a small infrastructure problem and that's hugely negative for our economy. I'm not missing the fact that this only gets settled with a major new federal commitment to infrastructure. I believe the sad reality is if anything like the tax plan that President Trump presented yesterday comes to pass, it's the death nail for infrastructure spending.
That tax plan, and I said it yesterday, written for billionaires by billionaires, it's going to reduce federal revenue so intensely, you can kiss infrastructure spending goodbye. That's really worrisome. There's no way the city or the state can fix the Amtrak problem. That has to be a federal investment.
Question: There are [inaudible] who say, [inaudible] I'm going to work from home, I'm going to find another job, whatever it is, they can all [inaudible] they don't work, they don't spend their money, they're not taxed.
Mayor: Look, again, I'm not belittling the danger. I think it's a huge problem. I don't want to say the sky is falling yet, because there's still a lot of reasons why people want to and need to be in the city. I don't think it's as simple as saying, "Hey, I'm just going to telecommute and everything's fine." I think there's a lot of reasons why, in fact more reasons than ever, why people want to be here physically. The tech community is a great example. One of the reasons our tech community's growing is that people think the physical proximity to each other's firms make a lot of sense.
There's a lot of other ways to get here besides Penn Station. I think the bigger point is this is the leading edge of a larger infrastructure problem. This is one of the most sensitive parts of our infrastructure crisis. It makes everything harder if we don't deal with it and the only solution is federal, and unfortunately in the last 24 hours, the solution just got farther away. Yeah?
Question: Two parts – one government, one campaign on your [inaudible], I'm wondering, there's a Republican forum last night. I'm wondering, is that something that you read up on? That you pay attention to, sort of [inaudible] what was said?
Mayor: No, my view is [inaudible] my message to Republicans, work it out amongst yourselves and choose an opponent, and I'll see that individual in the fall.
Question: Government – the Lippman Commission report you said multiple you hadn't read, you hadn't reviewed. I'm sort of curious, what original source documents do you typically read in a week or are you always just getting briefed? Are there memos, are there reports that you make sure to read the actual documents?
Mayor: It obviously varies by situation. The volume – it's very hard to describe the volume of activity that occurs when you're Mayor of New York City. The gear shifting is it's not every hour, it's every few minutes, it feels like. There are times when I read the original source documents. There are times when I get summaries. There are times when I get verbal briefings. There's times when I do all of the above over a sequence of time.
The challenge always is that there are so much incoming, you got to keep responding to each new issue, but on the Rikers question, this is something we had talked about for a long time internally. I had a body of knowledge of my own coming in. I spent a lot of time with Commissioner Ponte, a lot of time with Tony Shorris, and Don Williams talking about where we needed to go to with Rikers and what our vision was.
I had real conversations with Judge Lippman too, who I have a lot of respect for. The report was helpful. I still – there's areas I agree with, areas I disagree with, but I still think it was a very helpful document, but it's one of a lot of things that we have to consider as we move forward.
Question: Just a follow up on that. Councilman Lancman joined by Kalief Browder’s brother yesterday, says that he looked at that same report, that Lippman report, and sees a three-year track to getting records closed.
Mayor: Mr. Browder, obviously, I don't blame him one bit for his anger or his frustration or his grief, but to the Councilman, I would say something simple. Let's be clear, that's just an act of demagoguery to suggest that we could do this in three years. It's not possible. I don't think it's good to mislead people. We are going to be energetically implementing alternative sentencing efforts. We have been, we'll do more. Bail reform. A whole host of things.
As I said to you guys, the number one factor will be the reduction in crime, and that's been going very, very well but we projected the need to keep reducing crime initially to get the jail population down to 5,000 from this current 9,300. No one's ever heard of a New York City jail population of 5,000. That's a huge structural change.
We believe it can be done, but let's not kid people. It's not going happen in three years. It's going take a decade. Yeah?
Question: On the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana, you've said that you were waiting for the early adopters to see how things go there. I know you were recently in Seattle. I'm just wondering if you talked to the mayor up there about the issue at all or if your thinking on it has evolved?
Mayor: No, it's not my central focus. I did say, you're absolutely right, that I want to see how the early adopters did, and I think the time is coming soon where it's time we'll have enough body of evidence to have a real conversation. When I've talked to the Mayor of Seattle, including when I was out there, we focused on obviously the tech community and opportunities for both our cities to grow in terms of life sciences in particular, and we talked a lot about how to fight the Trump budget cuts. Those are the things we're focused on now. At some point, we should look at the evidence from those places and see what it means for us, but my position remains unchanged in the meantime.
Question: As of when we could expect your built out jobs plan – the 100,000 jobs you said to people [inaudible] housing plan. Is that eminent?
Mayor: Not eminent in the sense of the next few weeks, but at some point this year, I got to give you a better read on when.
Question: Sorry to go back to Bo Dietl, but do you think –
Mayor: You're obsessed, Jillian.
Question: I can't let it go. Do you think that he should apologize either to the judge or to your wife?
Mayor: I'm just not going to pay a lot of attention to the guy.
Unknown: Last two.
Question: What do you disagree about the Lippman report? What in the [inaudible] –
Mayor: I think the concept I said, the vision that there had to be five facilities, I've said that scenario I disagree with. I think some of the assumptions about the impacts of some of the reforms maybe overstated. I could go chapter and verse, but my broad sense is it was an intelligent report that was very helpful, but one that at times was overly optimistic in terms of what could be done. I also think, a couple of good options were offered for the future of the island. I think there's other ways to look at it as well. That's not necessarily an area where I disagree, but I think there's more options than what they stated.
Question: Do you think that – one quick follow up, do you think prostitution should be decriminalized?
Mayor: I've said very clear – thank you, that's another area I disagree with them. I think this is an area where they underestimated the potential negative impact on public safety of some of the changes they want to make. I think they're also underestimating the reforms we've made already and the impact, and some of the things that City Council has done by law and the change that that's already making on the ground. No, I don't agree with their vision of decriminalizing certain offenses.
Question: Do you [inaudible] President Trump when he comes back home or –
Mayor: There's not a plan. If the occasion arises on this visit or in the future, I'd certainly welcome a dialogue, but there's not a specific plan at this point.
Question: [Inaudible] demonstrations against him?
Mayor: No plans, per se no.
Question: I think in today's City Council hearing, it came out that there's a 38 percent vacancy rate in the city's TIL program.
Mayor: I'm sorry, when you say 38 percent vacancy rate in TIL, I'm not sure what that phrase. I know till a bit, but I'm not sure I understand that phrase.
Question: I guess the point is that there's dozens if not hundreds of apartments that are vacant and apparently it's taking the city about a decade or more to make renovations in some of these units –
Mayor: Okay, I think what you're referring to is there was a specific group of – I don't think it's the program. I think it's a specific group of buildings that I am perplexed as well and I don't think it's just the City's actions. I think the folks in the buildings have some responsibility as well. We've got to break through that and get these things finished and get people in the building, get people in a better circumstance in those buildings. I need to come back with you how quickly we can do that, but I do not think it's a reflection on the larger TIL program, which goes back decades. I think it's about a specific group of buildings.
Question: Do you know why it happened?
Mayor: I don't know enough about it, but we can come back on that. Thanks, everyone.