Secondary Navigation

Transcript: Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Launch IDNYC, The Country's Most Ambitious Municipal Identification Program

January 12, 2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, this is really a wonderful day for New York City. And I want to welcome everyone – thank everyone for being here, thank all of the great folks who are standing with us today for being with us, thank our friends at the Queens Library here in Flushing – an extraordinary facility that epitomizes this city. This library is for everyone. When you walk around these halls, you’re going to see every kind of New Yorker – people who’ve been here a long time, people who just got here – all together in the common cause of making this the city we believe in. So, this is a great place to talk about what’s happening today all over the city. 17 locations like this – where people are going today to apply for their municipal ID – IDNYC.

It’s a historic day because for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, this will be the first time they can get any kind of ID. And for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, this is going to be the first time that ID was made simpler for them. And there’ll be tremendous benefits in that process. So, if you’re like me, you’re going to go get a municipal ID card.

[Applause]

It’s very stylish. We have our map here. We have the Brooklyn Bridge here. They did not consult me on the design, but if they had, I would’ve said, include the Brooklyn Bridge. So, it is a beautiful card, but really, what’s beautiful about it is what it stands for. It stands for everyone being respected, everyone being included, everyone having opportunity. That’s what we believe in, and this card epitomizes the values of this city. It epitomizes the history of this city. It epitomizes the values of this administration and our colleagues in the City Council.   

So, this is a launch of something that will make life better in this city. And it fulfills a promise that we made – that my administration made and the City Council made – to uplift so many New Yorkers who needed to be recognized and respected. It will give people much greater access to the basic services that are necessary for life in this city. It will literally, tangibly allow people full participation and full opportunity – something as simple as this little card. And I really want people to understand the tangible impact – one piece of plastic, but it’s going to open so many doors for our fellow New Yorkers. It’s going to make their lives better, because in the absence of identification in modern society, there are so many things you can’t do.  This card is available to everyone. It’s going to mean people can lead fuller lives, better lives, lives full of respect and recognition. 

I’d like to acknowledge the elected officials who are here today. You’re going to hear from some of them. I’d like to acknowledge others who have really played a key role – Danny Dromm, lead sponsor of the IDNYC bill.

[Applause]

Danny’s been a passionate, consistent, unwavering advocate for this legislation. And he was focused on it from day one, and we would not be here without him. Let’s thank Danny for that extraordinary commitment.

[Applause]

Now, a former boss of mine used to say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it takes a village to create the right kind of ID card as well. And a key member of that village was Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee.

[Applause]

The minute we started talking about how to make this card even more appealing, even more important in people’s lives, he was focused like a laser on making sure that our cultural institutions participated fully. And that has been one of the great additional elements of this process – was the involvement of our cultural institutions. And what I’ve loved about that is – we had a wonderful event up at the Bronx Zoo some months ago – cultural institutions so fully embrace the notion of every kind of New Yorker participating and enjoying these institutions, and learning in them, bringing their children, bringing their elders. This is a transcendent moment not just because of what the ID means, but because we’re going to open the doors of these precious institutions to more and more people. So I want to thank all of the cultural institutions who are such tremendous, energetic allies. 

I want to thank the man whose district we are in, who’s been a great supporter and who’s been a powerful advocate for immigrants – Councilmember Peter Koo.

[Applause]

And I want to thank the folks here at the Queens Library and also the leaders of the other library systems who really embraced this. 

Now, again, we’ve all seen plenty of situations where a good idea didn’t move forward. We have seen plenty of situations where a good idea got lost in bureaucracy or [inaudible]. But this is a case where people did the right thing and they really deserve credit – the cultural institutions joined in, the libraries joined in. The libraries even said, we want to be the place people come to get their IDs, we want to go above and beyond, we want to be that portal – because so many people in our communities see the library as a place for everyone, a place they’re comfortable going – it’s the perfect place to come and get this ID that will open up their lives in so many ways. So, I want to thank Bridget Quinn Carey – who’s the interim president of the Queens library system – for hosting us in this wonderful facility.

[Applause]

I want to thank Tony Marx, the president of the New York Public Library who’s been a –

[Applause]

Tony has been a huge booster of this idea and it’s very consistent with his larger philosophy of making libraries a place for community as a whole. So, Tony, thank you for your support. And I love all libraries, I love all people, but I especially love the Brooklyn Public Library. So I want to say to Linda Johnson – thank you for your support.

[Applause]

And in Brooklyn, there are lines around the block, just as there were here in Flushing. There’s 17 locations all over the city and what we’re hearing from all of them is huge demand, huge interest, people flocking to those libraries today to get their card. 

Now, I also want to say – so many people who won’t get famous in this process but sure deserve to brought us to this day. Hardworking staff at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Mayor’s Office of [inaudible], HRA, NYPD – so many people who worked for months and months to get this right along with the hardworking staff of the City Council and a number of the commissioners who worked on this during [inaudible]. Let’s give them all a group round of applause.

[Applause]

Let’s be clear about the reality up until now in this city. For hundreds of thousands of people ID was out of reach for a lot of reasons. For one thing, we’re just different from so much of the rest of the country. About half of the residents of this city who are 16 years old or older don’t have a driver’s license. That would be inconceivable in other parts of the country. But here the actual use of a driver’s license is just much lower for obvious reasons.

We are a city – a lot of people come here from all over the world, all over the country. So there’s a transient dynamic that means it’s harder for people to get ID quickly. 

We recognize that anytime a person has an ID – I don’t care if they happen to be an American citizen or if they happen not to be – it’s good to have ID. It makes everything simpler in life. How many times do you go into a building nowadays and you’re asked to show an ID? How many times do you want to do any kind of business transaction – you need an ID. But it’s amazing how many people don’t have a picture ID. So part of this policy was to correct something and improve the quality of life for people across the board. Part of it was to recognize that, as a city of immigrants, we had to honor our history. We had to honor that which made possible New York City today, which is generations of immigrants. We had to honor today’s immigrants just as we honor our forbearers. We recognized that almost a half million of our fellow New Yorkers are undocumented and had no possibility of getting a picture ID. And that meant no leases for apartments, no bank accounts. That meant if someone had an encounter with law enforcement – even a positive encounter with law enforcement – there was no way to prove who you were. And law enforcement is very clear – a simplest act is to ask someone their name and to verify it. When you can verify it, things go much more simply. When you can’t, it gets to be more complicated. So, we got a lot of support at the NYPD for the notion that it was better to have more and more New Yorkers have an ID card. And we had to do it the right way – we had to do it a way that people would have confidence in, that they would find appealing, and would find easy to access – and a lot of work went into that.

We are adamant that people cannot and should not live in the shadows. We don’t want any of our fellow New Yorkers to feel like second-class citizens. We don’t want them to feel left out. We don’t want them to feel disrespected. And this ID addresses substantially the notion that we all matter. And everyone has an identity – by definition, everyone’s identity should be recognized.

Now think about it – think about how often we pull out our ID card and think about what it means for someone who doesn’t have one. Think about how it holds them back. You’re going to hear from Esther Sanchez Morales in a moment. She’s going to tell you about that reality. And if people can’t do the basics in life, it holds them back, it holds their families back, let alone what it makes them feel.

So IDNYC is going to do a lot for a lot of people. It is something that was created after a very careful process with tremendous respect for individual privacy, for confidentiality.

In the first year, this card will be free so we can get it launched properly. In future years, there will be a modest charge for the card. Of course, when we provide the ID card, we will not ask the immigration status of anyone applying. And I’m going to ask all my friends in the media – and including in the media that writes and speaks in different languages – to amplify that point. No one will be asked their immigration status in applying to the library for an ID – for a municipal ID – because it’s not pertinent. If you’re a New Yorker that’s all we care about. If you’re a New Yorker, we want you to have access to this ID.

It will be accepted by all city agencies, including the NYPD, which, again, played a key role in developing the approach. And in addition to the partnership with the libraries and the cultural institutions, we’re pleased to announce that more than 10 major financial institutions have joined in to this effort.

[Applause]

And I want to thank them because they share the same impulse. They want people to be included, they want people to have an opportunity to participate properly in our economy, and they’re stepping forward to help that happen.

IDNYC will benefit, again, a whole range of people, but it will also be very important for some of our most vulnerable fellow New Yorkers – folks who are homeless. Think about that for a moment – if you’re homeless and you have been homeless, how hard it is to get an ID card while you don’t have a home, you don’t have a fixed address – this will be part of solving that problem; folks who are transgender, who have been in many cases treated unfairly and improperly in terms of the right to identify themselves; children in foster care – again, another population that we care about deeply that’s been transient; formerly incarcerated, who are trying to work their way back into society, and it’s in all of our interest that they work their way fully back to a positive role in society, but if we don’t give them a foundation like their identity back, you can imagine how hard the next steps are; and something that we have talked about a lot over this last year – and in the minds of all Americans – are veterans. We want to make sure that every veteran gets all the support and the benefits due to them, so there will be a special veterans designations on this card to help each and every veteran get the benefits they deserve – and that’s in everyone’s interests because they’ve served us and they’ve stood up for us.

Now, even if you have ID, there are a lot of benefits to this card. I have noticed many an individual duly picked up on the notion that with this card – this year only – comes a free one-year membership to 33 cultural institutions. That did get the attention of many New Yorkers.

[Applause]

And Mary Chu, to my left, is especially excited about this fact – one of the people who really enthusiastically embraced the notion of the card. She’s a grandmother from Jackson Heights – she watches two granddaughters after school and on the weekends – and a lot of times that means staying home with them, but she wants to do other things with her granddaughters. She wants to educate them and expose them, so she wants to take them to places like the Queens Botanical Garden, and have the opportunity to do that in a way she can afford. So I want to thank you, Mary, for being a good grandmother, and getting ready to expose them to culture of all kinds.

Other benefits – Big Apple Rx – the city’s prescription drug discount card – is now going to be integrated into IDNYC. And – you know, on late night advertising they say, “But wait! There’s more!” – and there will be discounts on movie tickets, Broadway shows, the YMCA, and city recreation centers. You can’t afford not to have an IDNYC card!

How do you get one? Pick up the phone and call 3-1-1 and you will find enrollment centers across the five boroughs just like this one. You sign up and the card is sent to you within two weeks at your home.

To finish, I want to say a few words in Spanish before I introduce the other speakers, but I want to just say – this notion of inclusion – I really want to emphasize, this is what made New York City great. Go back to our origins as a modern city. It’s because we were a place for everyone that this place has worked. It’s because great energy and minds and entrepreneurship and creativity flowed here from all around the country, all around the world, because this was the open city. A lot of places in the world, even to this day, are typified by a spirit of exclusion and limitation. New York City has always been the place for inclusion and possibility. We defend that. And this ID epitomizes keeping this an open city, making it a city for all well into the future. En español –

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that –

[Applause]

With that, I want to say, clearly, the most indispensable person in this process has been the speaker of the City Council. Her commitment was extraordinary throughout. This was not a snap-your-fingers-easy kind of thing to put together – it took incessant work and focus. And I cannot remember a discussion for months and months when the speaker didn’t raise this issue and remind us of how urgent it was to get it done – and because of her support, it got done. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

[City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito speaks]

[…]

Mayor: [inaudible] please, tell Esther she will not have to wait in line.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito: [speaks in Spanish]

Mayor: I’d like to present her with – 

Speaker Mark-Viverito: [speaks in Spanish]

[Applause]

Mayor: Felicidades. 

Esther Sanchez-Morales: Gracias.

Mayor: De nada. All right. We are going to first do questions on this topic, and then we will do questions on other topics. I’d like to ask three of the folks who really played a crucial role in achieving the work of – doing all the work that led to the actual day when we could hand out an ID to someone like Esther – I’d like to call forward our Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal, our HRA Commissioner Steve Banks, and our Director of Office of Operations Mindy Tarlow. Please come up and join.

[Applause]

So you will have the benefit of their wisdom in the question-and-answer process. Questions on topic. 

Question: [inaudible] What is the city doing to get [inaudible]?

Commissioner Nisha Agarwal, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs: We’ve been working very closely with both the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions as well as with the New York State Banking Association to engage federal regulators on this issue as well, to ensure that they issue clear guidance about the ability to accept IDNYC. And we’re hopeful we’ll get more institutions over time through that avenue.

Mayor: Andrew.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I’m going to have Nisha speak to some of those details, but I’d like to emphasize – there was tremendous care in this process to recognize privacy rights, confidentiality, but I can also say that right now – real world – I mean, you heard stories right here of what it means to not have ID. So we should not let those legitimate challenges and complexities stand in the way of solving people’s problems, but we believe we’ve done it in a way that is respectful and careful and obviously very carefully calibrated to the law. But I want to give you one example – when someone comes in contact with law enforcement and doesn’t have an ID, there are occasions where that leads to an arrest because the law enforcement officer has no choice but to arrest someone for the absence of ID. I think it is so much more appropriate to help people minimize a situation like that because the law enforcement officer will have the information they need from an ID card approved by the NYPD. I actually think it’s going to allow people to live more easily and in greater harmony with law enforcement, for example, to have that ID card. 

Commissioner Agarwal: As the mayor mentioned, we’ve been very thoughtful about the privacy concerns and responses, such as some of the issues that community members raised. When we issued the rules for this program, Commissioner Banks with HRA, which is the program administrator, also issued four different executive orders that really amplify the privacy and security of this card – some things like providing notification as requests come in for an applicant’s information so that they can intervene in those contexts; also, very strict procedures about how to vet any request that may come through. And it’s important to remind everyone that when the law passed, there was language in it that said both that information would not be shared unless legally required – and that’s a very high standard – and in addition, for law enforcement, that they would require a judicial warrant or subpoena in order to be able to access the information. So we think we’ve very much addressed the concerns of the NYCLU and others. 

Question: [inaudible]

Commissioner Agarwal: One of the great aspects of this process of developing the card is that we’ve been working closely with NYPD and specifically with their intelligence unit in developing the security and anti-fraud features of the card. So the card itself actually has many embedded features that would prevent it from being easily duplicated. Also our process of enrollment has a very skilled enrollment team that can look at documents that people submit, ensure their authenticity, as well as a back office review process if that’s needed. And even simple things like having a card mailed to your home address confirm that the person who’s receiving the card actually lives at that address. So there is from really beginning to end a range of different ways in which to prevent this card from getting into the wrong hands or the same hand multiple times. 

Mayor: Multiple documents are necessary.

Commissioner Agarwal: And multiple documents are necessary. So there’s a point system that’s been created similar to the DMV – so a number of different combination of documents to prove identity and residency can be utilized – and we have the ability to verify all of those documents. 

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: [inaudible] stronger stance towards–

Question: [inaudible] supporting undocumented immigrants [inaudible]?

Mayor: So let’s separate the pieces. On the first one – I’m going to turn to Nisha on both, but I want to say, my view on the first one is we’ve seen a number of administrations in Washington over the last – let’s say a quarter century – very different view points. I think there was a very different approach, say, from the George W. Bush administration to the Barack Obama administration, and yet, a commonality was, the city of New York – also under different administrations and different parties leading in the mayoralty – remained committed to protecting our residents and to recognizing in a federal system that localities have very substantial rights – and we utilize those rights. So I don’t see a scenario where a change in Washington would undermine our right to respect and protect our own people. I’ll let Nisha speak to that further. On the second point – I think it’s two important answers. One is, we always worry about any unintended consequences with any action we take, and people did raise – people who care deeply about supporting our immigrants – that there are in other important parts of our city, other important populations of city, that maybe there might be a stigma effect. Our view is, first of all – the first priority here is to address people’s needs. And if people can’t get an apartment, they can’t get a bank account, they can’t get into their child’s school, that is such a profoundly bad situation – they can’t have a normal relationship with law enforcement – that you first have to address that – that that is sort of the first priority. But to make sure there wasn’t stigma, all of the commissioners here – I want to thank all the – we have an all-star team of commissioners in this row and here – all of them put their heads together on how to make this something for everyone. And I assure you, I have talked to folks who – their families have been in this country for generations – they want the ID. And I’ve talked to people of all different backgrounds, young and old, and everyone now sees it as something that’s convenient and positive and opens up lots of opportunities and lots of benefits. So I think that’s going to take away the notion that this is for some small subset of our population. I think it’s become much more universal the way it’s been constructed.

Commissioner Agarwal: Just to underscore what the mayor said – this is an ID card where we are not going to be asking for immigration status – so, it’s just a population of New Yorkers. And for that reason, people should feel secure that it isn’t a sort of sitting-duck database for immigration. Beyond that, there are really strict protocol in place to be able to defend against requests should they come. And then the last thing to remind everyone is that in the legislation itself, in two years, there’ll be a look into what documents are being retained as part of the program, et cetera, so if things really go haywire in D.C., we have the ability to change our program when – if we need to. 

Question: [inaudible]

Commissioner Agarwal: Great question. So, in the process of developing this card, we did a number of different focus groups with the different target populations also to get a sense of what documents people do have. So whether it be an expired foreign passport within the last three years, things like that, we feel confident that the list of documents that are available to use to get the card will meet the need. We also – HRA has the ability to add one-point documents to the list without going through rule-making. So if we need to amend, we can. 

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: You – you will remember the highly regarded American film Field of Dreams – “If you build it, they will come.” Well, what we’re seeing, at 17 locations around the city today, is people are lining up – lining up enthusiastically – to be a part of this. And, you know, when you create something new – I will say [inaudible] – people didn’t know how – folks in the administration and our partners outside – we didn’t know what would happen on day one, as with any great experiment, but the people are voting with their feet. They want this card, they feel comfortable with it, they believe in it – and that’s very very gratifying, and that proves how important the idea was. Josh–

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Well, no, I do think change is coming – and I think it’s going to be progressive change, I think it’s going to be positive change. I appreciate the previous question, but I actually think things are trending in the direction of comprehensive immigration reform, and I’ll give you a few points why. First – we were very honored, a few weeks back, to gather mayors from around the country who are enthusiastic about implementing President Obama’s executive action, enthusiastic about actually getting opportunity for people who live in their cities – across the country, every region represented – because those are the people we represent, those are the people we’re here to serve. So I think what’s happening on the ground is a greater embrace of all of our people. And I think what’s going to happen is with every step taken on the ground, it’s going to make it harder and harder for Washington to avoid acting. I said back at that point there’s a powerful analogy – they’re very different issues, but they’re very similar in terms of the kind of controversy and fundamental questions of human rights that have been developed – ten years ago in America, on the question of marriage equality, you would’ve said that it would be a long wait for fairness – and then you saw the dominoes fall, in a good way, one by one, and now you have effectively a national policy. Even though it isn’t fully complete – there’s more work to be done – practically speaking, at state after state after state, it’s the creation of a national policy. I think you’re going to see a parallel on the ground on immigration rights that will create the kind of pressure that will actually force federal action. I also think a lot of people at the federal level in both parties recognize that further delay is bad for our national strength and security, and politically untenable. Finally, I had an occasion back in July – I’ve spoken about this a couple times, so I really think it bears noting – I don’t think there’s a more powerful moral voice in the world today than Pope Francis, and when I was at the Vatican in July, I met with the second most important official at the Vatican, the Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, and he had just come back from Mexico trying to address the unaccompanied children crisis – it’s a great concern to the Catholic Church. And I described to him the notion that, next year – that was, you know, this was July – so I said by 2015, New York City will have a municipal ID program. He said what is going to be? I said it means anyone can be respected and identified and treated as a full member of our society. His eyes literally lit up, because I think he saw in it a moral message that would have a transcendent impact – and we are the biggest city in the country, and we are, in many ways, the global capital. So for us to say "We’re going to embrace everyone" will have an impact on the national and international debate. And I want to thank Nisha Agarwal, because when Cardinal Parolin was here a few months later, she got him his own then-mock-up muni ID card. And I’m going to tell this story because I think it’s time – Nisha was asked on short notice to put one together for both Cardinal Parolin and Cardinal Dolan, who also, as you know – Cardinal Dolan has been extraordinarily supportive of these efforts – so Nisha did her best to fill out the information. She got the address for the Vatican, all that, but then there is a point on the card of who is your emergency contact, so Nisha thought it should be Pope Francis for Cardinal Parolin, and she completed the card and gave it to him. So thank you for being quick on your feet, Nisha. 

Question: [inaudible] the overwhelming majority of the people applying [inaudible]?

Commissioner Agarwal: The only individuals who might potentially be weeded out are individuals who might pop as a hit in the OFAC database, which is around terrorism, and it’s something that banks run that check as well. Otherwise, a past criminal history, things like that, are not necessarily going to disqualify you from being able to get the ID card, but being on the OFAC database is the only context in which that would happen. 

Question: [inaudible]

Commissioner Agarwal: It’s not something that we are anticipating, though we can, you know, look into that. It’s not something that was built in to –

Mayor: But let me add – you want people to have ID in the interest of all our security. It’s just a good thing for the most mundane problems to much more serious problems. You want people to have ID. This is something I’ve heard so consistently from law enforcement. So take – it’s a very fair question, but now take it the other way around – would you rather someone be absolutely disconnected and unknown? I don’t think that’s particularly good. I think you want everyone to be a part of this society, and having a government ID is a good thing on many levels. I think it’s part of being a full part of society. And then if we ever need to contact someone, we at least have that ability to do so. On topic. On – yes –

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: I mean, look, the – I said this back in 2013 – there were obviously a number of forums and debates and this issue came up – I absolutely believe we should go ahead and do as several states have done and offer driver’s licenses to those who qualify – and they have to qualify like everyone else. But if someone happens to be undocumented, it should not stop them from having a driver’s license, because the alternative is a lot of people would be driving without a license, and that’s not safe or healthy for any of us. I – at the time – I was talking about this issue, the state of Colorado had just approved access to driver’s licenses in that state for undocumented individuals. If the state of Colorado can do it, politically and practically, I assure you the state of New York can and should. On topic. 

Question: [inaudible] 

Mayor: We – we – I’ll have Nisha talk about the details, but we were inspired by their efforts. We learned a lot – we learned that it could work – and that – and learned also that in those cities, law enforcement officials thought it had been a net-positive because it had encouraged communication and contact between community residents and law enforcement. 

Commissioner Agarwal: Exactly. We learned quite a bit from other cities’ experience. For example –

Mayor: [inaudible]

Commissioner Agarwal: – yeah. In Los Angeles, the city there passed legislation – they haven’t started implementing their card – but they really thought about libraries as a primary site for enrollment of the ID card, which makes a lot of sense, because libraries are so welcoming, inclusive, open to all communities, and especially to immigrant communities. We learned quite a bit about that from Los Angeles. We learned a little bit about the design from San Francisco – and also in our focus groups. Many immigrant in particular said we want something that looks official and that looks bureaucratic and doesn’t – you know, looks like a real ID card. So we learned a little bit about design from San Francisco. And we learned what to do and not to do on financial inclusion through other cities like Oakland, where it’s important to have a financial inclusion component. We have that with our ten or so banks that have signed on so far, but maybe we’ll wait on things like prepaid debit functions because the fees right now with who the products are available are pretty high, but if a better product comes along, we’d love to include that as well, as Oakland has. So we’ve learned quite a bit from all the other cities and we’re hoping to take that example and take it to the next level.

Mayor: And the item I referenced – the was some real good research done in New Haven about how it deepened the connection with law enforcement and led to more communication and contact in a productive way. On topic. Please.

Question: [inaudible] hospital [inaudible]

Mayor: That’s a possibility – I don’t see why not. 

Commissioner Agarwal: Don’t see why not. Absolutely. This will be accepted to access all city services in city buildings. 

Mayor: And again, I would say for hospitals and other institutions, the worst case scenario is no ID. You know, the thing that makes their lives much more difficult is no ID. Commissioner, you with me on that one? Thank you. Commissioner Bassett has affirmed, as the healthcare expert in the room. Last call, on topic. On topic, going once, going twice – off topic. 

Question: Later today, [inaudible] police department is going to speak to the press [inaudible] our understanding is [inaudible] summonses and arrests. How confident are you that the slowdown – if there was a slowdown – [inaudible] and how confident are you that your relationship with the police department [inaudible] 

Mayor: I'm confident we're moving in the right direction. You'll hear all the details from Commissioner Bratton and Chief O'Neill. But I think – I said several times in the last few weeks – we have work to do to move forward as a city, to deepen the relationship between police and community. And I want to do everything I can do to make sure there is mutual respect and understanding. But I do feel, certainly, that we're moving in the right direction.

Question: Mr. Mayor, as a related question, we've heard from Bratton [inaudible] is your message to police officers may or may not have been involved in a work slowdown, get back to work to else?

Mayor: My message is, first of all, we are moving in the right direction. Second, Commissioner Bratton and Chief O'Neill know how to handle this situation, and they're doing it correctly. I have absolute faith in both of them. So, in terms of the specifics of how to go about it, I refer your questions to them. By definition, every public servant needs to do their job. But I think, in the interest of moving us forward, they have taken the right approach, and we're seeing good results. 

Question: I just don't quite understand, how are you going to solve the problem [inaudible] NYPD?

Mayor: I don't talk about myself in the third person, first of all. Well, again, I think – I wouldn't make it monolithic. The NYPD is made up of 35,000 uniformed officers, 50,000 employees overall. Each and every one is someone who participates in our society, even when they are off-duty; has their own views; a whole range, demographically, you name it; over half live in the city, over half are people of color. So I really hope, as we move forward – and we will move forward – that we respect the diversity of the NYPD, and the diversity of views amongst the rank and file. But, I think I can say this – I want to remember, I want to remind everyone where we were the first six months of the year, because that wasn't long ago. In the first six months of the year, I got a lot of very positive feedback up and down the NYPD – rank and file officers, and all over the city – for choosing the finest police leader in this country, Bill Bratton, as our commissioner. I got a lot of positive feedback for supporting the broken windows strategy. I got a lot of positive feedback for the investments we made into overtime, in additional training, in lights in public housing developments so officers would be safe as well as residents. We then had a series of tragedies – unspeakable tragedies – starting with what happened to Eric Garner, and everything that played out in Ferguson, and obviously – most painfully and shockingly – the murder of two officers. Of course that's going to create challenges and tensions all around. But we're going to move forward. And it's obvious that the events in Paris in the last few days are a clarion call to all of us to unify and move forward, because we have to protect the people of this city, and the values of this city, and this country. And I think our men and women in the NYPD are absolutely motivated to do good, and believe in protecting those values, and you're going to see a constant improvement in the dynamic, if we all work at communication and understanding. I certainly will. I've been in regular contact with some of the union leaders, as have members of my administration. We're going to keep talking to the union leaders, we're going to keep talking to everyday cops, and we're going to keep working for understanding – but most especially, we're going to continue the work we came here to do, of bringing police and community together, because there's a lot of unfinished business there. And as we bring police and community together, this city will be safer for everyone, including our officers. By the way, on Monday, last Monday, we showed what reform looks like – a huge decrease in unnecessary stops; the stops that were made resulted in many more arrests per capita, meaning they were better stops, more appropriate stops; a huge decrease in marijuana arrests – the kinds of things that are going to build trust and communication and connection between police and community. It will not happen overnight, and it's certainly harder to happen in an atmosphere of a tragedy. But it will happen. We will keep moving forward. 

Question: [inaudible] from my perspective, I had the impression that there [inaudible] most NYPD officers. [inaudible]?

Mayor: I think, again, you're talking about 35,000 people, a majority of whom are people of color. So, right there, although I appreciate – you know, you're asking your question from your own personal perspective – I have to say, I don't think that's an understanding of what we have here in the city. We have a police force that is evolving – that is evolving generationally, that's getting more and more training and support. We have a police commissioner and leadership who said very clearly, we want to build an NYPD that respects everyone, but we also want all communities to respect the NYPD. It's a chicken and egg dynamic. They have to do better on both sides of that equation. No, the vast, vast majority of our officers are here for the right reasons, and doing their job very well. In any profession, you're going to find some who do the wrong thing, and there's ways of dealing with that. But no, I think this is a police department that is getting more enlightened all the time, and is doing its job better all the time. And this is the other thing – 2014, I understand why it was hard to dwell on the results of the year, when we have had such pain and tragedy in our midst. But we also do have to take the long view – what was achieved in 2014 because of the men and women of the NYPD – reduction in crime, while improving the relationship between police and community. Here's another fact – complaints to the Civilian Complaint Review Board have gone down steadily throughout the last 12 months. That is a good sign. That means things are moving in the right direction. And we've got to get back to that work of bringing police and community together.
Josh.

Question: [inaudible] what happened in Paris, not just to the newspaper [inaudible] is the city and police department ramping up [inaudible]?

Mayor: [inaudible] ramped them the moment it happened. The NYPD is extraordinary in its ability to respond to global events almost instantaneously, and I commend Commissioner Bratton, I commend Deputy Commissioner Miller. We have a habit, the moment one of us sees such a development on the news, we're on the phone to each other. And it's important to check in, but the game plan is always applied automatically. If there's an attack on a Jewish target anywhere in the world, we reinforce and support major Jewish community locations instantaneously throughout this city. If there's an attack on one of our allies, we immediately reinforce the positions of the allies here in the city. It was Australia a few weeks ago, it was France in the last few days, but we immediately make sure that their facilities are protected. And you've seen very visible NYPD presence at a number of those locations. That continues, so long as we believe that that is an atmosphere that creates additional risk to those facilities. But I emphasize – what happened in Paris is absolutely tragic, and I think it was an affront to all we hold dear, and to our democratic values. Here in New York City, we are on alert every single day. We are the number one terror target. And that has created in us a fence of vigilance, every day. There is no down day. There is no day when we're less vigilant. We're vigilant every day. We have 1,000 counterterrorism officers who do extraordinary work. But when a tragedy like this occurs, we reinforce additionally any location we believe to be sensitive. 

Question: [inaudible] Times story today – 

Mayor: Can we just stay on the first one? Then I'll give you the second one, but let's just stay on the first one. I know you're not on the editorial side. That editorial in the Post was so filled with lies and misinformation, I hardly know where to begin on the Davis case. The Davis case has not been settled. The Davis case was connected to the other litigation related to stop and frisk, which everyone in the city knows was settled months ago, and which – I think there was a fairly universal understanding – had to be settled for the good of our city. I remind you – one of the strongest voices that opposed the previous administration's stop and frisk policy was the PBA. Consistently, they said it was putting officers in an untenable situation, of having to have negative encounters with innocent people at the community level. So, one, we don't have a settlement; two, when and if there is a settlement, it is consistent with the previous approach; three, the notion that any settlement would suggest disrespect for our individual officers is outlandish, and it's really time that we recognize that the New York Post, in particular, has been purveying a lot of misinformation, and I'd like people to look out for more than one source when assessing anything. If you look just there, you will not get the whole truth. And so, the fact is, when we settled the Floyd case, no one said it was a quote-unquote "slur" against our officers, and suggested we thought they were individually biased. No one on earth believes that. It's not true. It makes no reference to individual officers. It refers to a policy that was broken, a policy of the previous administration, which the people of this city voted to end. Additionally, there's a suggestion in the editorial that somehow this would lead to less vigorous policing – no, that's wrong. We will vigorously police our public housing developments, we will continue vertical patrols, but what this will do is clarify the rules for how to do those patrols, and how to work with community residents. The supposition of the editorial was, somehow, people in public housing will be less safe, and therefore we must care less about them. That's outlandish and inappropriate. We care deeply about all our residents, and people in public housing – for a long time – have deserved more support, not less. So, vertical patrols will continue, but they will be done better, and they will be done with the residents in mind, and in greater communication with the residents. 

Question: [inaudible] the Times story [inaudible] depressed after the murder [inaudible] Can you comment?

Mayor: Thank you for leading the [inaudible] – the witness. No, I was not, I am not. How could anyone with a heart not be saddened by current events? The murder of our officers, and again – I don't know about the rest of you, but I was at that hospital, standing over and praying over those two bodies, with members of the clergy and members of the NYPD. It's an experience no one should have to have, especially the family members. And I've said many times, for the family of the NYPD, that was a traumatic day, because they lost two brothers. How could you not feel that? How could you not be deeply saddened? That doesn't clear after a day. That hangs with you. It should hang with you. It's a reminder of the sacrifices men and women in uniform – police and military and others – make. So, I was saddened. But I'm quite clear about what we have to do to keep moving forward. So, there's a lot of armchair analysts out there, who typically will not be quoted by name – which is always a warning sign as well, and this cuts across all media, beware of unnamed sources – but no, I was saddened, but I was also resolute that we have to move forward.

Question: In light of the recent [inaudible] terror threats [inaudible] quality of life [inaudible]?

Mayor: Yeah, I believe we're making [inaudible] progress. You'll hear a lot more from Commissioner Bratton and Chief O'Neill later. I think our officers have every right to be careful and vigilant in their work. I think they should be careful and vigilant. We have, now, a pattern of some lone wolf attacks – a totally individual lone wolf, and obviously, people in several cases that were mentally disturbed – and then we have something very different in Paris, that as the Deputy Commissioner Miller has said, a coordinated, well-planned – tragically well-planned – trained group of individuals. So, we've got two kinds of threat, in addition to everyday crime. Our officers must be vigilant, for the good of all, and particularly to protect their own safety. I encourage that. But I believe the people who get into policing do it because they're committed to protecting others. It's not a job for the timid. It's not a job for someone who wants it easy. If you become a police officer, you're willing to take that risk, and I believe they will continue in this difficult moment to do everything they know how to keep us safe. 

Question: The Staten Island GOP selected District Attorney Donovan [inaudible] I was wondering if you could talk about your relationship with the district attorney, and how that would translate if he did, in fact, go on to win the congressional race.

Mayor: I will support the Democratic nominee. But, that being said, in my previous personal work with the district attorney – it's been respectful and professional for sure. And I think, if he does prevail, he will certainly be an improvement over his predecessor. 

Phil: Couple more, guys. 

Question: Mayor, can we have your thoughts on the report that came out today, the [inaudible] chokehold – the report says that [inaudible] the first active chokehold case [inaudible]?

Mayor: I don't want any misunderstanding of this report. Now, I want to be clear, I have not read the whole report. I've only seen a summary. First of all, it refers to the years 2009 to 2012, before we got here. Second, it is a small number of cases – I think it is less than ten cases – that are looked at. I think it raises a question about how to create consistency in whatever process is undertaken, once a complaint is filed. But, I don't want to overstate the scope of the report, or suggest that it refers to the current moment, because I think a lot of changes are occurring – as I said, a great reduction in the number of CCRB complaints, and the retraining of the police force, to try and make sure that people use the proper tactics. So, I think the report will be another – another part of the discussion in this city, but I believe, from what I've seen so far, it refers to things that have already begun to change. Last call. Going once. Media – yes.

Question: [inaudible] 

Mayor: Yes. Yes, again, 35,000 men and women under arms here in this city – as everyone knows, that was rank us well ahead of the armed forces of many large nations on this earth – 1,000 of whom are applied to anti-terrorist activities, and an extraordinarily sophisticated process for observing and monitoring any potential threats against us. I think we are the number one terror target in the world. I also think we're the most fortified position in the world. If you – short of a military base, we are the most fortified location in the world to address these problems, and we have the finest police force. And we have a leadership in Commissioner Bratton and Deputy Commissioner Miller, who have worked on these issues literally for decades – well before 9/11, well before we gained a fuller consciousness of the challenges we face. One other point that's crucial – it's not a state secret that a few years ago there was a tension between the NYPD and some of our federal partners. I had spoken several times to the FBI Director James Comey, who is now standing leader. He has affirmed, the Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has affirmed, that the working relationship between the NYPD and the federal agencies that protect us is at an all-time high. It's at its most productive, most communicative, and that will also benefit the people of this city, in terms of keeping us safe. 

Phil: Thanks, guys.

Mayor: Thanks, everyone. 

pressoffice@cityhall.nyc.gov

(212) 788-2958