July 28, 2014
Mayor Bill de Blasio: [Inaudible] would like to address some of the events of the last few days, and then have Commissioner Bratton speak. We’ll be taking questions on public safety topics first, and then I’ll take some off topic thereafter. I know the commissioner will have to leave promptly. Just to say upfront, I’m sure you all know there has been an incident at West Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue. We are getting further details, but the basic outline, two U.S. marshals and a member of the NYPD shot while attempting to apprehend a suspect. Again, we want to be very careful with providing information until we have more detail. From what we know at this point, it appears that the injuries to the officers are not life-threatening, but we are waiting for more information.
Let me speak about the situation in the city over the last few days. Obviously a tremendous about of concern and discussion in the city because of the tragic death of Eric Garner. I want to give some perspective here. I think it’s very important to stop for a moment and talk about the larger efforts we’re making, in the sense a mission that we have in this administration to address, profoundly, the relationship between police and community. And it has been, for me, an honor to work with Commissioner Bratton on these issues because of his extraordinary experience addressing these issues previously, particularly in the context of Los Angeles.
But I want to remind everyone of the discussion that occurred in New York City last year, and why it happened and what we came here to do. Because for much of the previous 12 years, there was a growing tension and a growing disconnect between police and community all over our city. And that is not an acceptable state of affairs. I came here to address these issues, and it is my responsibility to do so and I intend to do so. And we’re making a series of changes that I think will be felt not only in the short run, but that will have a profound impact on the city in the long term. And I want to remind people of the scope of the changes already underway, let alone additional actions that are about to be taken. This administration came into office with a commitment to ending the broken policy of Stop-and-Frisk, the overuse of Stop-and-Frisk, the unconstitutional use of Stop-and-Frisk. We settled the related lawsuit and we changed the practice on the ground, and the numbers speak for themselves. We settled the lawsuit related to the racial profiling bill and are implementing that bill, which will, I am certain, ensure all New Yorkers are treated more fairly. We have a vision of a city that is safe and that is fair at the same time. That is what last year’s discussion was all about, and that is what our policies are achieving this year.
We have a lot more work to do. But I am very appreciative of what’s happened over the first seven months, because you can see change on the ground. You can see a different approach already, even with the police academy class that recently graduated. A different approach to training, emphasizing cooperation between police and community. And we will do much more in the way of training. And Commissioner Bratton will outline some of those plans in just a moment. We have improved the oversight mechanisms that helped to ensure that there is a fair and just relationship between police and community. We have an inspector general for the first time. We have new leadership at the Civilian Complaint Review Board. That’s going to play an important role in improving the relationship between police and community. As you know, the CCRB will play an active role looking at, initially, the chokehold issue on top of the specific investigations in the Garner case by the Staten Island DA and the Internal Affairs Bureau of the NYPD.
So a number of steps have been taken aggressively. A number more will be taken, all with a common goal to keep this the safest big city in America. to constantly seek to be even safer, to create a real working partnership between police and community, to create mutual respect wherever it hasn’t been before, to improve the training of our police so they can be ever more effective, to live up to the principles that Commissioner Bratton stated when he was first named by me and when he was sworn into office, to have an approach to policing that is constitutional, respectful and compassionate. That’s what all the actions we’ve taken before are allowing us to do, and the actions we will take from this point on will deepen that process. Commissioner Bratton has said many times, very powerfully, ‘You can’t break the law to enforce the law.’ And I want all New Yorkers to understand that we feel that idea strongly, ‘You can’t break the law to enforce the law.’ We’re going to make sure that all the members of the NYPD work closely with communities, that they are trained to work effectively with communities and respect every citizen. We also want every citizen to respect the NYPD. I want to emphasize this is always a two-way street.
The vision here is not of a separation between police and community, that’s what we had for 12 years. And that created more and more tension and more and more disconnect. We seek a unity between police and community. The vast majority of the members of the NYPD do their job well. They do it effectively. And we want to make sure that we constantly work to deepen that relationship between police and community. But citizens have to play a role in that too. Citizens have to work with the police, have to communicate with the police, have to respect the police, just like we are requiring each and every officer to respect the citizenry. This is the direction that we are going in, and we think it will be felt more and more deeply over the coming months.
In the specific instance of the Garner case – again I’ve outlined some of the actions that have been taken – we will continue – I’ve had a number of conversations with community leaders, with clergy, and elected officials. I will have additional conversations later this week with a group of concerned clergy and community leaders to talk about additional steps that we will take. We’ll let you know the details of that as they are organized. It is obviously crucial to engage community leaders to help us turn this page, to help us create this new reality. I want to thank Commissioner Bratton, I know he’s had a series of meetings with community leaders in Staten Island to talk about the ways that we can do things better. But we are resolute about getting this right. I’m convinced we can get it right. I want every citizen of this city to know that they will be protected and they will be respected. That’s the reality we must create. I have confidence that Commissioner Bratton and his team are taking us down that road effectively, and that we will deepen these efforts in the coming days. I would like you to hear now from Commissioner Bratton about some of the plans that he is putting in place, particularly in the area of retraining. And just one other preface before I call him up – we pride ourselves in not doing things halfway. And I want to thank the commissioner, because when he came forward with a vision for retraining, it wasn’t for a small percentage of the men and women who patrol our streets, it’s for all the men and women who patrol our streets. We want to make sure that this training is universal and effective, that everyone understands the standards that we’re holding, and I think that’s the only way to make profound change. With that, let me bring forward Commissioner Bratton.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton: If I may, before following up on the mayor’s remarks, just give you an update on the circumstances that we understand are occurring at West Sixth Street – Sorry, West Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. A short while ago, we were informed that two U.S. Marshals and one New York City detective had been shot and wounded. All three have been conveyed to the Bellevue Hospital, where they are currently being treated. The suspect who they were seeking to engage – I understand – is deceased and a firearm has been recovered. The three members of the – that I’ve identified as having been wounded in this gunfire exchange were members of a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force, led by the U.S. Marshal’s office, part of a national effort that we have members assigned from the NYPD to that task force. Very similar to our joint terrorism counter task force, this is one that we have with the U.S. Marshals. So minimum details at this time, immediately subsequent to this availability to you on this issue, I’ll be heading up to the hospital. The mayor will be joining me shortly thereafter, that the officers are all in treatment at this moment. There’s a very active crime scene investigation being conducted jointly by the U.S. Marshals and New York City Police Department at West Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue. Again, this has all just transpired literally within the last half hour.
Now if I may speak to the mayor’s comments and the issues that we intend to speak to in response to your questions. I think you’re all well aware that immediately upon my appointment as police commissioner, that I began a reengineering effort, similar to one I began in 1994, to effectively do a CAT scan, a fine-toothed comb review of all of the department’s policies, practices, and procedures, articularly those that had been very much in the public domain over the last several years – issues around stop, question and frisk; police officer use of force; officers’ concerns about the work conditions that they were working under. That reengineering effort has focused on a number of areas, over a thousand department personnel, several hundred civilian personnel from outside the organization. We’ve been doing, as you know, surveys of the officers. We’ve been doing citizen surveys, 17,000 individuals reached out to get a sense of where is the department and its membership, and how do they feel about what’s happening, and where is the public on a very detailed precinct-by-precinct basis. Part of the reengineering effort is refocusing on resource allocation. How big should this department be? One of the reasons that I worked with the mayor to resist the initial desire to increase the department by an arbitrary figure of 1,000 is that the reengineering effort will give us a fairly accurate idea of – to ensure this department is trained, to ensure that it is effective in the streets, what should the size be at this time in the city’s history? And that process is moving forward.
Secondly, our focus has certainly been on risk management, risk assessment and management of our officers. We are going to have significant oversight of the department, an inspector general, that we have a new leadership at the CCRB that we’re working closely with. We will have a federal monitor. So to that end, we are seeking within the department to expand on an effort that began prior to my arrival, but one that I will expand dramatically based on the LAPD model that I was involved in creating in response to their consent to create. [Inaudible] will be creating a professional standards bureau, I already have a two-star chief with a staff that is growing very significantly in that entity. We have already brought on board with city contracts the consent to create manager for the LAPD, now retired, and the risk assessment manager for the LAPD, also now retired. Two people that have probably some of the most significant expertise on risk management. How do you identify early on officers that may be going in harm’s way in terms of their behavior and how do you correct it? So we are focusing in that area.
Thirdly, we are certainly focusing on something that the officers have been telling us in their surveys – they want more training. They feel that to deal with the issues they’re facing on the street today, that affect their safety as well as citizens’ safety, and as well as the way that they go about their business, they want more training. And to that end, we are committed and the mayor certainly has indicated he is committed to that.
And then lastly, we have been very actively engaged, as you are well aware, on a combination of efforts designed to continue the reduction of crime, disorder, and fear in the city. A combination of very focused crime issues, 12 precincts in the city have now received additional hundreds – if not thousands – of additional officers over the summer months. And we are also continuing our focus on quality of life enforcement where and when needed, and consistently assessing how should that be applied. So the issues that are very much in the forefront of the news these last several weeks are not new, other than certainly the circumstances of each incident, and certainly the tragic death on Staten Island. But these are issues that the department has been focused on, and the good news is, that we’re not just beginning. We’re already well-immersed in every one of them in terms of identifying that they have been an issue, and an issue that needs to be addressed, and that the mayor certainly understands needs to be addressed and has prioritized and supported. So with that Mr. Mayor, I think we’re open to hear questions?
Mayor: Thank you. I just want to give a quick addition and then we’ll take questions. I want to emphasize questions on any public safety or policing-related matter. And then once those are complete, we go to off topic. Commissioner Bratton has to get up to the hospital. And we pray that everything we’re hearing so far is true, that these officers are going to be okay in the long run.
The addition is this – again, the buck stops here. And for me, that means that we are going to constantly work to perfect our strategies. We saw, for example, a problem in public housing in the last few months. We have intensely reinforced our policing efforts around public housing. Some of you were at the announcement we made a few weeks ago related to the 15 developments with the greatest trouble, that account for a huge percentage of the crime we experience in public housing. It was not just about putting more police on the beat around those developments. It was about adding lighting immediately to make the developments safer. It was about adding youth recreation programs for the summer, including the summer nights, to give young people a positive alternative. We’re going to go at each of these problems very systematically. And from week to week, month to month, we will continue to make adjustments until we get it 100 percent right. Our goal is a safe city and a fair city, and we’re very devoted to that goal. And we take responsibility for that here. With that, public safety-related questions. Yes?
Question: Mr. Mayor, could you explain a little more about this more active role you say the CCRB is playing? In what regard and what are they looking at as far as the Garner [inaudible]
Mayor: Look, I think the fact is that over the last two decades, the CCRB has not played a particularly important role in this city, and certainly not the role it was supposed to play. It is supposed to be a place that a citizen can go with a concern or a complaint and have that individual situation addressed effectively and speedily. And by the way, that is fair and important for the citizen and for any officers involved, that there be a speedy and effective effort. Richard Emery is very devoted to reforming the CCRB so it can provide speedy outcomes for all involved. If an officer hasn’t done anything wrong, that officer should be found innocent quickly. If there’s a problem, it needs to be addressed. And that’s the role of the CCRB. The additional fact is that the CCRB has received complaints related to chokeholds over the last few years. Chair Emery and the members of the board will look at the last five years of data and look at what that tells us, and recommend what additional actions might be necessary as related to that, because they have a particular body of research in the form of the individual complaints. Now a lot of those were not substantiated, let’s be clear. But those that were will tell us something. Yes?
Question: [Inaudible] CCRB substantiated claims is that about 30 percent of them are not prosecuted or nothing further happens to the officers involved at the NYPD level. Can you talk about that process and about how few officers are actually penalized or punished for –
Mayor: Let me start, and I’ll start with the proviso that I don’t pretend to be an expert on all the intricacies of the CCRB. But let me start and then pass it to the commissioner. Look, what we want here is that when there is a complaint, there is a full investigation and a speedy resolution. Some complaints are honest and real, some are specious. They all have to be looked at quickly and effectively. That unfortunately has not been the history. And so we end up a bit with worst of all worlds. Officers had a cloud hanging over them, in many cases officers who had done nothing wrong. Individual citizens who might have brought a valid complaint didn’t necessarily get a resolution. So the goal here is to create an effective entity, really in many ways for the first time. And I think Richard Emery is exactly the right person to lead that effort. And that will be done cooperatively with Commissioner Bratton and other leaders of the NYPD to figure out a system that will actually work. But it – I think as Chair Emery has said, when a citizen has a valid complaint and they see action on that complaint, whether it’s mediation or any other type of action, it encourages that mutual respect between police and community. Because it says that anything that did not work right actually is addressed. That’s what we want to see happen at CCRB. Would you like to add?
Commissioner Bratton: In reference to the CCRB, my executive staff met with Mr. Emery actually over dinner last week. He had been on board for just about a week and expressed with some candor what he has been finding as he is now reviewing his new agency. And expressed with some candor concerns that he had heard from [inaudible] relative to their interaction with the NYPD. We intend to work very closely with him to ensure that an entity that is essential to building trust of the public in the NYPD is able to do its work and do its work seamlessly with us in the sense of cooperation and supplying of information. As it relates specifically to the chokehold issues that – and the figure that’s been put out there, over a thousand reported incidents, I’ll remind you of the old adage that the devil is in the details. That’s what you begin with, and after an investigative process, that what we have ended up with is about nine instances that were of sufficient significance that they were brought to the level of action by Commissioner Kelly, my predecessor. During my seven months as police commissioner, none of these cases have come before me. A significant number of these alleged chokehold incidents, complainants no longer participate in the process. Some of that is the issue that the mayor has expressed concern, that we all have concern about, is the length of time it takes historically for CCRB to do their investigations. They’ve recently expanded their staff. Hopefully with that expanse in staff it’ll speed up the process for all concerned. On average, I think the complaints are taking nine to 10 months for even the most basic. That’s too long. So we are committed to dealing with that. But encouraged that while the thousand sounds like it’s a huge number, it is a large number, but it’s out of over 1.2 million arrests that occurred during the same period of time. And the fact that so few are substantiated after investigation, it is an issue of concern as evidenced certainly in the Staten Island incidence where it may have resulted or contributed to the death of an individual. But again, part of the reason for the interest and focus on it now is that death that – the last death involving one was almost 20 years ago based on the understanding I have of the cases we’re reviewing.
Mayor: Let me just add, but for extraordinary circumstances, the chokehold is not acceptable. The commissioner has made that very clear. And by the way, that was a decision – a policy decision of the NYPD that even predates his first tour of duty and goes back to the 1980s. So we in each and every instance, owe it to all involved for there to be a full investigation. But I want to be very, very clear that is not an acceptable tool for officers to use, again but for the most extraordinary situations. And I think this is why this retraining effort is so important. Even if it only proves to be a few instances where it was used under normal circumstances, that’s a few instances too many. Yes?
Question: Probably the best for Commissioner Bratton to answer, we’ve seen over the last few days a number of videos of encounters between civilians and police. In one episode there was two uniformed officers grappling with a suspect – not sure if in the Bronx or wherever. There seemed to be some interaction from onlookers which was in some ways almost defiant and involved in making judgments about what police officers have been doing. Do you feel that some sort of emboldening by the people who really shouldn’t be involved in enforcing and getting mixed up in what the police are doing, and interfering?
Commissioner Bratton: Policing in a democracy is an agreement from those governed to accept the laws that are passed for their safety and security. And we, the police in the democracy, are charged with being one of the principle agents for that. There is no denying in some of the videos that have surfaced, that what you see is interference on the part of onlookers, maybe relatives, maybe friends, or just people in general who should not be interfering. That interference certainly exacerbates the situation, in that it raises the officer tensions – and not only wrestling or fighting with a suspect, but then they’re now concerned about a surrounding crowd that is getting more agitated as the struggle continues – so that is of concern. There is a dual obligation here, for the police to police constitutionally, lawfully, as safely as possible. And that’s where the training effort is to try to improve upon their capabilities to make these arrests with the minimum use of force appropriate. But the public also has an obligation, that’s to submit to arrest when an officer has announced that he intends to arrest. And for the passerby, if you will, or the bystanders to not interfere with that process. We have thousands, unfortunately, of documented instances of resistance to arrest as well as bystander interference with that arrest. And so going forward, resolution of this issue or at least significant reduction of it, is going to have to be a much more of an agreement with police and public to respect each other. And we’re certainly going to be working very hard within the police department to ensure that we’re doing all we can to build a trust, rather than erode the trust.
Mayor: I want to go this side, but just adding a comment. Again, it’s difficult in the context of any moment to remember the history as clearly as we should. But the history suggests there has not been the kind of cooperation necessary. And we have to create that. And we’re not going to rest until we create it. So when every New Yorker knows that they’re being treated respectfully – as the commissioner said, I think very effectively, in a democracy, police are here to protect us at our request. And we need to create an atmosphere of respect and cooperation that pervades the city – every neighborhood, every block. And in that context, the two-way street becomes very clear. That each New Yorker has an obligation to work with the police and each police officer has an obligation to respect the people they serve. That’s what we’re committed to. We think it can be achieved, we know it wasn’t true always in the past, and we have unfortunately a challenge of undoing some of the mistakes of the past. But we believe if you create that respectful atmosphere, then people are more willing to work with the police, to inform the police of things they need to know, to respect the specific instructions of the police. That is the city that we have to create. Yes?
Question: First question is, do you believe race was a factor in the Garner situation? And secondly, would you like to see the federal authorities take the lead in the prosecution, or the investigation[inaudible] which is what Al Sharpton is calling for?
Mayor: I think, I think right now we have the Staten Island district attorney and the internal affairs bureau investigating, and I respect both of those entities and believe that they will do their investigations effectively. If the federal government decides to get involved, we will absolutely cooperate. It is absolutely the right of the federal government to make that decision, and we would regard that as an appropriate act and work with them in every way.
On the question of race, again – the concept here, and I think everyone in this room needs to feel this – if anyone is accused of anything, they deserve due process and democracy. That’s true for any individual New Yorker, that’s true for any law enforcement professional. Everyone deserves due process. It is not appropriate to pass judgment on the Garner case until all the facts have been looked at. If you talk about the last decade or so in this city, was race a factor and a problem in the relationship between police and community – obviously it was. And a lot of what we talked about last year, a lot of what animated the debate in this city last year was the need to address these issues very frontly, very openly. And say that we’re not going to have racial profiling be a part of our approach to policing, we’re not going to allow there to be any inference of unfairness in our approach to policing. And I have to say, even though we know we have a lot of work to do, the progress that’s been made in the last seven months truly encourages me. If you simply look at the oversight entities now in place, the new inspector general and new leadership at the CCRB, both resolute about getting it right in terms of the relationship between police and community, and creating real and effective oversight.
By the way, very reminiscent of the experience in Los Angeles, which is an extraordinary good news story. In the aftermath of the Rodney King tragedy, an incredible environment of tension and difficulty that went for decades in LA, under Commissioner Bratton’s leadership, an extraordinary rejuvenation and rebirth of the relationship between police and community in that city, in a place that many thought it could never happen. We want to learn from that model and we have the tools in place now to do that. But I think you also have to look at the reality of Stop and Frisk. Everyone knows, I think it was a broken policy. The reality on the ground today is profoundly different, and the numbers speak to it. These are indications of the level of change that we have to make and the progress we’re already making, but a lot more to come and particularly the retraining. And I’m very enthusiastic that a full scale retraining of this police force will lead not only to more effective policing, but to a much better relationship between police and community. Yes?
Question: When you both stood in police headquarters right after the swearing in, Mr. Bratton, you said that crime is down at such extraordinary low levels in the city versus where it had been, but there’s an expectation – or there should be an expectation – that the intrusion of police into citizens’ lives should diminish. Now was that – were you speaking only of Stop and Frisk at that time? This is a question for both the mayor and the police commissioner. Does that only apply to Stop and Frisk, or do you think the expectation also extended amongst citizens to these low-level offenses, to having an open container or having two feet on the seat?
Mayor: I just want to start and then I’ll pass this to the commissioner. Clearly the first thing that was referring to was Stop and Frisk. Because what we had was a broken policy where 90 percent of those stopped – approximately 90 percent had done nothing wrong in any way, shape, or form. If you’re violating a law, I could understand why any New Yorker might say, ‘Well, that may not be such a big offense, or that may not be something that troubles any one of us individually.’ But a violation of the law is a violation of the law. The problem with the Stop and Frisk policy under the previous administration is 90 percent of the people had not violated any law. They got no summons, they got no arrest, there was nothing there but an assumption of guilt. And that was overwhelmingly directed at young men of color. And that was part of why that was such an unacceptable policy. And that approach no longer exists. So I don’t want to speak for the commissioner, I want to say my view is that that was the intrusion that we came here first and foremost to end. On the question of when there is a violation of the law, I want to emphasize – one of the things the commissioner speaks about constantly is officer discretion. A lot of different ways to handle a situation. For some of us, we experience what I would call traditional community policing, and that was – I certainly saw that when I was growing up. A police officer saw something happening, or about to happen, and made very clear to everyone involved that they shouldn’t do it. And everyone had to disperse or move along or stop what they were about to do or stop what they had started to do. And a lot of times that works very effectively. In other cases, you need a more strenuous approach to get the job done. But – what we want to teach is the notion that it – under a respectful but still very effective approach to policing, officer discretion means attempting to maximize dialogue, attempting to resolve situations as effectively as possible, that doesn’t always require arrests. But breaking a law is breaking a law, and it has to be addressed in one form or another. Commissioner?
Commissioner Bratton: Thank you Mr. Mayor. Sir Robert Peel’s first principal of policing is pretty basic. The basic for which the police exists is the prevention of crime, fear and disorder. I would argue in this city in particular in this country, that there was no focus on prevention in the ‘70s and ‘80s. There was certainly no focus on disorder. And this city, the way it looked in 1990 was the prime example of that – 6,000 subway cars, totally covered with graffiti, behavior on the streets that was creating a great deal of disorder and fear. The mistake of American policing in the ‘70s and ‘80s, we focused on responding to crime, primarily serious crime, and really did not pay any attention to dealing with the disorder. And we saw the results.
Part of the benefit of the city at this time is that half of the city’s population never experienced the New York City of 1990. They live in a very different environment. They have a very different set of expectations, in some instances because their reality is very different than those of us who lived here in 1990. Going forward, there is – from the 1990s we focused through CompStat on not only improved quick response to serious crime, but moving toward basically dealing with it when it was two or three incidents, not 20, 30 or 40. Similarly, what we also focused on for the first time in 25 years was disorder, quality of life enforcement so that those 250,000 fare evaders every day, one out of seven was [inaudible], one out of 21 was carrying a weapon. That we basically eliminated that problem and saved the State of New York $80 million a year. We also had the peace dividend that I talk about. By 1996, New York State was leading the country in terms of the fact that it was starting to reduce its state prison population. Rikers in the mid-1990s, as we surged to take the city back, had a population of about 22,000. The Rikers population today is I think about 12,000. New York State is one of the few states in the country closing prisons because of that peace dividend or benefit, if you will.
So the balance that I have to, as police commissioner, to maintain is in this much safer city, we still are trying to find ways to improve our ability to fight what crime remains, thus the mayor’s initiative this summer in those 12 precincts. But also, something as basic as dealing with the Elmo craze in Times Square or dealing with the house parties. House parties that – I had a meeting last week with a group of City Council members, and to a person they were complaining about quality of life crime, house parties that 300, 400 people showing up in a neighborhood at 3 o’clock in the morning where police have to go to disperse them. In three of those house parties over this weekend, we had extensive violence. In two instances, partygoers being turned away, who just basically turned on the house party and began shooting into the party. In a third instance over in Staten Island in the 121 Precinct, an AK-47 was found on the lawn of the front of that house when we responded. So would you not want us to deal with that quality of life crime of house parties? That unfortunately, if not prevented early on, when there’s 30 or 40 people and grow to 300 and the violence that ensues, it is a delicate balance that we’re in. And we’re continually trying to like a doctor, prescribe the right about of medicine, the right prescriptions to make it work. We are committed [inaudible] to do all of this lawfully and respectfully, but we need the public’s help also to appreciate that when an officer does approach you to correct your behavior, that you respond. That’s what democracy is all about, that we work together, that we don’t work at odds. Some of what we’re trying to deal with, the mayor and I, is the idea that there are – in too many communities in this city, because of the sense of the feeling of a police department that wasn’t sensitive, was in some instances perceived to be brutal, that there is not that spirit of cooperation. We want to build that trust back where it was, if it existed. And if it never existed, to build it for the first time.
Question: [Inaudible] last week the flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge were replaced. Those culprits still remain at large. Even if this was just perhaps a prank, it pointed to a significant security breach at one of the city’s most famous landmarks and significant targets. How concerned are you that this is a vulnerability that can be exploited next time by someone?
Mayor: Oh I take it very seriously. I’m absolutely concerned, and we are taking measures right now to beef up security on the bridges, some short-term measures, and there’ll be long-term measures as well. I think it was a wake-up call, and we’re going to act on it very aggressively.
Question: Commissioner, can you provide us with any more context of what the U.S. Marshals and the police detective were doing, what they were trying to – the suspect was doing [inaudible] that actually resulted in the shooting we just heard about?
Commissioner Bratton: The shooting that just occurred? This is all preliminary information. My understanding is they were seeking to serve a warrant on an individual who they were obviously seeking. The Fugitive Task Force is a major effort of the U.S. Marshals Service to seek [inaudible] other states who may move to other locations. We work very closely with them and very successfully. All we have right now is preliminary in terms of that there was some sort of encounter with an individual who was armed with a firearm, and as a result of that, that individual is – I believe – deceased. And the two marshals and New York City police officer are hopefully not dealing with life-threatening injuries. At least that’s our preliminary information.
Mayor: Okay, we’re going to go to other topics. I know the commissioner has to get up to the hospital. I’ll see you up there in a bit. Yes, thank you. Okay, let’s get some water here. Thank you. Okay. Mara?
Question: Mr. Mayor, welcome back first of all. A somewhat lighter topic here, how did you and the family spend your first day at Gracie Mansion? Can you talk a little bit about what you had for dinner last night, and what kind of touches you guys are making to make this feel like home?
Mayor: We spent our first night jet-lagged. The experience was a little blurry. You know, it’s an extraordinary place. And coming home to it for the first time was a pretty amazing feeling. We, I think everyone knows, I hear something – hold on, we’re having technical difficulties. Thank you.
Everyone knows my love for my neighborhood in Brooklyn and my home in Brooklyn, so you know, it was a little strange to come home to Gracie Mansion. But everyone there made us feel very welcome. And we had a little bit of dinner out on the porch, so we continued the Italian tradition of dining al fresco. And just, you know, some grilled chicken and vegetables, something very light. And you know, it’s amazing, I think the number one development for our family in this move is not having to wait in line for the bathroom. Because as everyone may have heard, we had one bathroom, somehow conveniently placed on the third floor of our three story building – our home in Brooklyn. So now there will not be a line for the bathroom or conflicts over the bathroom. That’s the number one new revelation of living at Gracie Mansion. Yes?
Question: I think the commissioner referred to it as the ‘Elmo craze’. Can you speak to what specifically is being done to deal with these people and do you see any potential for regulation [inaudible]?
Mayor: Absolutely. I think this has gone too far, and it’s time to take some real steps to regulate this new reality. I don’t know whether to call it an industry or what you call it, but it needs to be regulated. I know some of my colleagues in the City Council are looking at legislation that we could move quickly to create licensing and rules. It’s not appropriate for anyone to demand a certain amount of money from a passing tourist and harass them in that manner. That’s not appropriate. And until we have new regulation in place, we will enforce in any situation where that occurs. But I think once we have regulation, we’ll be able to say very clearly to everyone who does that work, ‘Play by the rules or you won’t be working here anymore.’
Question: Do you think [inaudible] administration’s decision to overturn the – or to dismiss rather – this class action lawsuit that would overturn the state and city property tax laws? I know you talked about the inequity in the system. Did you just think this lawsuit wasn’t the right way to tackle it, or [inaudible]?
Mayor: Yeah, this is a very complicated issue that’s going to take a lot of work, locally and at the state level. And it should not be determined through a lawsuit, it’s something that should go through a full formal public process, and involve both the mayoralty and the City Council, and ultimately the state as well. So there are inequities in our current approach, there is a lack of transparency, it has to be addressed, but this is going to take quite a while to unpack and make sense of. And attempting to act on it through a lawsuit just is not productive. Yeah?
Question: [inaudible] do you know where [inaudible] seven months pregnant [inaudible] look like chokeholds [inaudible]? [inaudible] the press conference this afternoon, were you briefed on it at all or seen the pictures?
Mayor: I have not seen the pictures, I have gotten only the very broadest information and I want to be careful until we have all the facts to comment. Obviously I’m concerned, and we’ve made clear – both the commissioner and I – what our view is on the use of chokeholds. And it’s not acceptable under any normal circumstances, but I don’t want to rush to judgment. Anytime we talk about any incident, I’m going to say very consistently, until we have all the facts, until there’s an investigation, it’s not appropriate to pass judgment.
Question: So on the subject of the police reform still, I’m kind of curious. You mentioned the inspector general a couple times. What exactly is the inspector general doing in the Garner case? And could City Council [inaudible] issue of body cameras last week –
Mayor: Could they what?
Question: They brought up the issue of body cameras [inaudible]?
Mayor: Yeah, sure. The body cameras are part of the agreement we reached with the federal judge, but they are complicated. Zach Carter is here, and he can help me out if there’s any more detail, but I think the basic reality is that it is a technology that we agreed to as part of that settlement, but it’s not something that has been perfected yet, and it’s something that has to be worked on quite a bit to be used on the kind of scale we’re talking about here. But I certainly think it’s a productive idea, and it will, I think, ultimately improve the relationship between police and community.
The other topic on the inspector general, the inspector general made very clear after the Garner incident that this first and foremost has to be looked at by internal affairs bureau, by the Staten Island district attorney in a different way if a complaint is filed by CCRB. The inspector general is here to look at the big picture, patterns and practices, policies that need to be addressed. And I’m certain that he will do that aggressively. But I think in the division of labor, there’s a lot of different moving parts here. We now have a very robust oversight dynamic vis-à-vis the NYPD. For the first time in many ways, I would say in New York City history, we have a complete and robust oversight dynamic. But there is also a division of labor that has to be maintained. There’s a lot to do and we have to make sure that each part of that oversight team is doing the different pieces necessary.
Question: Just wondering if you could – was there any particular reasoning to why last night was the night to make the move to Gracie and should we be looking for any Craigslist postings for your row house in Brooklyn [inaudible]
Mayor: We’re considering that option, but we haven’t made a final decision. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on the house first that has been delayed for the last 14 years. So we’re looking forward – a little deferred maintenance has to be acted on. I always say, I moved into the house in July of the year 2000, during which I was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in the U.S. Senate race, so it was probably not a great time to move if you wanted to do a lot fix-it work on your home, and ever since there hasn’t been a good time either. So this will be the first time we’ll get to do some of the work that has to be done and then we’ll consider our options from then.
In terms of why, it was a very logical point actually, because until the city budget was done – you know, it’s been a whirlwind from the election through the transition, and then trying to very aggressively move – of course the city budget process, the labor agreements, the affordable housing plan, the pre-K plan, paid sick leave. I mean, we determined early on that we we’re going to move very aggressively on a number of fronts and really, there was no time to stop and prepare to move. So only after the city budget was done were we able to put a little bit of time and energy into it. And then it became clear that the time we were going away was actually a perfect time to move a bunch of stuff over to Gracie and begin to live there. We still have a lot more work to do to clear out the old house and set up the new one, but it was a very natural point where we could finally focus on it.
Question: On a similar topic, do you expect your sort of day-to-day life [inaudible] have you scoped out any new spots in the neighborhood, or I know there’s an issue with Dante getting to school, how is that going to work? How are you going to get to City Hall every day?
Mayor: On Dante getting to school, we have to figure it out. But my hope is to continue to do at least some days what I did with him before and drive down with him, even though it’s a less direct route. You know if I drive with him to Brooklyn Tech and then double back to City Hall, that’s not too much of a detour, because I enjoy the time with him in the morning. In terms of routine, I have not found a replacement for Colson’s Bakery, I am very concerned on that level – that I need to find a new place for espresso – but I’m going to work on that. But – and we have our haunt in our neighborhood, Bar Toto, that we go to all the time – we don’t have a replacement for that yet either, that’s going to take a while. But it’s very important for me also to maintain my connection to the neighborhood that’s been our home for over two decades, so I think you’ll see me in Park Slope a lot as well.
Question: Campaign for One New York has been accepting donations from firms that do business with the city, and yet the City Campaign Finance Board prohibits donations from firms like that. While you’re transitioning into office, they don’t want people who are coming into office to accept donations from firms that do business with the city. I’m just wondering if you’re comfortable with that lower bar for the Campaign for One New York.
Mayor: They’re very different realities. The Campaign Finance Board by definition relates to candidate campaigns – to individual candidacies. And as you know, we have the most advanced campaign finance laws in the country, the most rigid. And I have been very happy to participate under those for the last 12 years, 13 years, and I think they’re exactly the right laws. But when you’re talking about an issue-oriented organization, it’s a different approach. The Campaign for One New York is supportive of an agenda – pre-K and other issues that are part of a progressive agenda that needs support. We disclose everything. I disclose when I’m doing my campaign and the folks at Campaign for One New York disclose all the donations, and that’s therefore available for anyone to look at and ask any questions they want. In fact, the disclosure for the Campaign for One New York goes beyond the legal requirements. So I think that that’s what we need to see always in a democracy, that any support, whether for a candidate or for an issue group is out in the open. You can ask any question you want, but I do know to achieve the agenda we’re talking about, it’s important to get support from all quarters, and that support is important in terms of actually getting things done for people that we came here to do.
Anything else? Okay, thanks everyone.