June 11, 2015
Commissioner William Bratton, NYPD: Good afternoon, last time I was up to this command was to dedicate the park across the street, so it’s great to be back. The reason we’re here – the mayor, myself, Chief O’Neill – is we’re going to be doing a press conference after we dismiss you to get back out on the streets – is to talk about the Summer All Out program – the increased number of officers we’re assigning to a number of precincts to address an increase in violent crime, particularly the homicides and shootings – something, despite all the very hard work you’ve been putting into this command this year, we have seen an increase in homicides – five this year versus four at the same time last year and a significant increase in the number of shootings. You’ve experienced that because you’re out there patrolling those streets.
So, with the Operation All Out program that this precinct will be receiving an additional 21 officers – coming in. They will begin to patrol here starting tomorrow night. And then when we graduate the recruit class a little later this month, there will be an additional 19 officers being assigned – excuse me, 18 officers from the academy class coming out. Hopefully a number of you will be the mentoring field training officers assigned with those new recruits. That’s the equivalent of about almost 15 percent additional officers to this command. Hopefully it will help to start pushing down on some of that violence – give you some relief, some support to deal with the issues that you have been dealing with. I just want to – on my part in – as police commissioner to say thanks for all the work you’ve been doing. [Inaudible] precinct to work in terms of some of the crime conditions you deal with. You’ve been doing a great job and we’re going to try to get some additional resources and continue doing that great job.
With that, I’d like to introduce the mayor, who is looking forward to the opportunity to speak to you this afternoon.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you very much, commissioner. I just want to thank each and every one of you for the work you do. You are in a tough place. You are in a place where we face real challenges. I want to commend you for being at the front line and for making a difference.
You had an incredible year last year. I know there’s work to be done this year. As you heard, reinforcements are on the way and very, very soon. But I want to thank you for what you’ve been doing up to now. I know it’s never easy. You know I think how much people depend on your work and how much people’s lives depend on the good work you do. So I want to thank you for that.
I want you to know that we are working all the time to support you in that work, whether it’s sending additional forces from All Out or from the academy, whether it’s the new training efforts, the new vests, the new technology. Every day, we’re talking about what we can do to make your work easier and better. We want to support you because it is literally life-saving work. So I have great confidence that you will do all in your power to turn the situation around in this precinct. I know the reinforcements will help quite a bit. But we know it’s our obligation to keep giving you the support that you need to do your job at a high level that you intend to do it at. And thank you for that.
Mayor: Good afternoon, everyone. Well, I want to thank you all for being here, and I want to especially thank Commissioner Bratton, who you’ll hear from in just a moment. I want to remind everyone of the extraordinary leadership the Commissioner has provided in these last two years, including the record-setting year last year – extraordinary reduction in crime last year, the lowest number of murders in almost 50 years.
Of course, I want to thank him for all he did in his previous tour of duty, to give us the tools and the strategies that led to a safer city – over, now, more than 20 years of continued progress.
I want also to thank all the other leaders of the department who are with us – Chief of Department Jimmy O’Neill, Chief of Patrol Carlos Gomez, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter Terrorism John Miller.
I want to thank Assistant Chief Larry Nikunen, the Borough Commander. I want to thank Deputy Inspector Brian Mullen, the Precinct Commander, and Sergeant Kevin Grayson. And we will be joined in a short while by the Chair of the City Council Public Safety Committee, Vanessa Gibson, who is coming up from the City Council meeting that’s concluding now.
2014, as I said, was a record-setting year – followed on the heels of the year 2013, which was considered, at the time, a year so impressive for reduction of crime that there would be no year that could beat it. Well, in fact, in 2014, a new record was set.
And, as of June 7 of this year, we continue to make extraordinary progress – 6.8 percent reduction in crime, compared to the same point last year. 6.8 percent reduction in overall crime, compared to the same point last year – that means almost 3,000 fewer crimes have been committed at this point in 2015, compared to the exact same point in 2014.
That is progress, but that doesn’t for a moment cause us to ignore the real challenges that we do have to face. But it’s important to look at the big picture.
The big picture is that the men and women of the NYPD are doing an extraordinary job. They are getting the job done all over the city in ways – on a level we’ve never seen before. So, I want to keep front and center the fact that our police force is serving us well all over this city every single day.
Now, we have seen an uptick in crime in some neighborhoods, and we take it very, very seriously. And we know it is particularly related to some challenges, like gangs and crews. And we’re going to zero in on those challenges and address them.
The extraordinary nature of the NYPD – that’s been true since Commissioner Bratton’s first tour of duty – is the ability of this department to make adjustments, to change the approach, apply resources and strategies where they’re needed, when they’re needed. That is the hallmark of the NYPD, and you’re going to see that again starting this week with Summer All Out.
Summer All Out will be in all five boroughs. It will be in the areas where we’ve seen a particular uptick in shootings. We’ll be deploying 330 officers to ten precincts and four PSAs where those upticks have occurred.
We saw the success of similar efforts last year. Here in the 4-4 Precinct, there have been real challenges. And we’ve seen that spike in shootings – particularly, again, gang and crew related. 20 shooting so far – we’ll go over the charts with you later – up from nine at the same point last year. That’s not something we ignored. We have to deal with it, and we have to deal with it forcefully.
And I know that the people of this community expect us to address the problem quickly and well. We’re concerned about everyone living here in Morrisania and in Highbridge.
I want to note one of the folks here today. Betty Crawford has lived in this community, and has been very active in the community for over 30 years – raised her family here, now a proud great-grandmother. She has been fighting for safety in her community, like so many dedicated residents. And they expect us to be fighting right alongside them.
And we will be. And we will make a difference. Summer All Out will make a difference here in the 4-4 Precinct. It will make a difference all over the city.
I mentioned – last year, the lowest number of homicides in almost 50 years. Well, as I said, we faced a tough period of time toward the end of the spring, beginning of the summer. Summer All Out was one of the tools that helped to make a big difference. It was applied in the right way, and it helped to turn things around.
Remember, at this time last year, people were very concerned about the trend. Well, Summer All Out was put into place, again, with other important anti-crime initiatives. Ten precincts were targeted between July 8 and October 5th of last year. In those precincts, there was a 25.8 percent decrease in homicide, a 19.5 percent decrease in shootings, a 22 percent decrease in shooting victims. These are methods that work, and they’ll be applied again.
This is the finest police force because it is also the most intelligent, the most creative, the most strategic police force. Summer All Out is one of those tools. And new innovations have come into play even since this same point last year – like ShotSpotter, the gunshot protection system we launched in March, that’s already beginning to make a difference in certain parts of the city.
So, the improvements, the innovations will keep coming. The reforms will keep coming to bring police and community closer together – because we know that’s how we keep officers safe, and that’s how we fight crime as well.
We’re down 6.8 percent overall, but we do not rest on our laurels. We have a lot more work to do. And we’ll keep working hard, because every New Yorker is depending on us to achieve the mission.
Quickly in Spanish before I turn to Commissioner Bratton.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, I want to thank Commissioner Bratton and welcome him to the podium.
Commissioner Bratton: Thank you. Good afternoon. My apologies for the heat in this room. Good news, with the new budget, we’re getting money to do some rehabilitation of some of our air conditioning systems in these precincts.
[inaudible] I am here today with Chief O’Neill, Chief Gomez, and the leadership up here in the Bronx to announce the inauguration of this summer’s All Out effort, that will begin tomorrow evening, Wednesday. There will be an additional 21 police officers assigned to this command for the All Out effort. An additional 18 recruits from the graduating class at the end of this month will be assigned here also. Those 39 officers represent about a 14 percent increase of resources [inaudible] how they intend to use them here.
As you’re aware, many of you have been covering crime stories for a long time. Traditionally, warm weather, spring going into summer we see a period [inaudible] We see, empirically, up springs in certain areas of the city. The 4-4 is one of those that have been identified by Chief O’Neill as part of the operation All Out for that reason. [inaudible] This year we have five murders versus last year at this time we had four. The shootings are up by a significant amount in this precinct.
This precinct has a particular poignancy to me. When I was first commissioner in 1994, the first police officer killed in the line of duty during my time as police commissioner occurred in this precinct. He interrupted a robbery in progress. That park outside is dedicated to his memory along with other officers who have passed here.
Operation All Out is part of a number of initiatives – the new recruit class coming out. We have recently also increased our fellow task forces, strategic response groups [inaudible] about 120 officers, about 20%. Those officers over [inaudible] will also be moving around the city to assist [inaudible] place to place.
So what we’re trying to do is adjust accordingly and quickly as we soon do with emerging trends. It worked for us last year – equally anticipate that it will work for us this year. I compliment Chief O’Neill for his creation of the initiative last year. It worked very well, among the other things that we did. And as always I thank the mayor for his continuing support of resources that we’re being given and the technology acquisitions that we’re making that will be coming to this precinct very shortly.
[inaudible] That will be an additional day that [inaudible] will be fighting the crime situation here.
With that, I’d like to turn it over to Chief O’Neill and Ethan [inaudible], who – more specificity, before we open it up to on-topic questions first and then moving off to other areas of interest you might have.
Mayor: We’re going to do – thank you, Jimmy. We’ll do on-topic questions first. Then later on, I’ll take off-topic questions as well.
Question: [Inaudible] They want to see more officers walking and talking to people in the community, and not just patrolling in cars. I’m wondering if you guys [inaudible] part of the initiative or whether [inaudible]? I’m also wondering if there’s anything [inaudible] and the NYPD are doing [inaudible] to address this issue – to address crime – with jobs and athletic programs [inaudible] summer [inaudible]?
Commissioner Bratton: – the Police Athletic League [inaudible].
Chief of Department James O’Neill, NYPD: One of the great points about Summer All Out is these cops are not in cars, they’re on foot [inaudible]. So we’ll see an increase in the [inaudible] part of the precinct than in the [inaudible] part of the precinct. And 21 cops doesn’t seem like a [inaudible] have them out there on foot during those specific hours, during those [inaudible] great help to the CO of the 4-4 and the people that reside in the 4-4 also [inaudible].
Mayor: You remember him when he was a young man, right? [inaudible]. Well, first of all, we obviously believe in an approach to policing that’s deeply engaged with the community. So I think the heart of your question is people want to know that they’re having an opportunity to really communicate with the officers who protect them, understand what’s going on, give information to those officers, etcetera. It is exceedingly consistent with the values that Commissioner Bratton and I share.
On the question of all the things we were doing last year, we had a very successful experience with the recreation programs at public housing, for example. We expanded those recreation programs. We made them much later in the evening than they had been in many, many years. We’re going to continue that this summer—the recreation centers and public housing.
We’ve deepened some of our commitments to summer activities such as the continued summer education efforts through the DOE. And on top of that, what we’re trying to do is not an increase in summer jobs, but we are trying to increase internship and mentorship opportunities, as well.
So there’s a lot of pieces that we’ve put into play—not by any means as much as we would ideally like—but there are a lot of those put in play we know will help, particularly give our young people positive alternative during the summer.
Chief O’Neill: That’s a great question. Last year, as this year, we’ve gone through a training program because a lot of them haven’t been back – haven’t been on the street in quite some time. [inaudible] problematic to a precinct, and the expectation is that they’re going to know who and what the problems are. So there is a training period, and then every day, before they’re turned out, there is a role call, and they’re briefed on the current conditions.
Question: Mayor, you’ve said this before that reinforcement will help the [inaudible] and [inaudible] commissioner said earlier this week that just the fact that some of the police that will be on the street [inaudible] is a deterrent to crime. Aren’t those arguments [inaudible] headcount?
Mayor: Again, we are addressing the situation with our existing resources and I think we’re doing it effectively. I don’t need to repeat what I’ve said in front of so many of you so many times. There is an ongoing discussing with the City Council leading up to the adoption of the budget. Everyone knows that’s going to happen over the next week or two, but I am very, very confident in the capacity of this department to achieve a lot right now, and I think this is a great example.
Commissioner Bratton: The administrative capacity is going to be reduced in the summer months. So the people that remain behind are going to have to work hard and pick up the slack. But our primary mission here is to – the NYPD – is to keep the people in this city safe. So the priority is if we need people on patrol, that’s where we put them. So the people that stayed back and aren’t assigned to All Out are going to have to pick up the slack.
Commissioner Bratton: It’s not random at all. We went through the roster. We looked through at every administrative command and, depending on what their function was, we took a certain percentage of them and returned them all.
Mayor: Okay. On topic, on topic.
Question: [inaudible] shooting and murders up [inaudible]
Chief O’Neill: We do have a number of resources that we utilize to combat this gang problem. We do have a very robust gang division headed by Chief Cavolina. He’s tuned into what’s happening citywide. And even on the precinct level, some of the precincts have set teams and they’re dealing [inaudible] with the gangs and crews, also.
Commissioner Bratton: In addition to the police officers, we have a number of initiatives. Over in Brooklyn, for example, we have the Ceasefire Initiative that’s has been very successful in Boston, Los Angeles, and other cities I’ve worked. We are working very closely with the district attorneys and the U.S. attorneys to help us, particularly on shooting violence. The Feds have the Trigger Lock initiative, so we have been really activating, particularly as recently as this week, arrangements with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District to get much more active in Brooklyn, for example, on people committing violations with firearms. So we have prevention-focused efforts, we have apprehension enhancement efforts, as well as the increased visibility efforts. So, there’s a multiplicity of things going on. It’s not just more police into the field. It’s also working with the D.A.s, who are – once we make an arrest, we get successful prosecution, and get particularly anybody [inaudible] the shooting of a human being, murdering of a human being. I’m sorry, that’s a person that needs to go to jail. They don’t need to be roaming the streets.
Chief O’Neill: We just wanted to get kind of a – every year, starting in the late spring, early summer, we do see a rise in violence. So we just wanted to stay ahead of it, to make sure that – last year we started a little bit later. It was a new concept. It took us a little while to get the bodies together, get the training together. So that’s why we’re starting it early this year.
Chief O’Neill: My response to that is that we took – we took an oath on the job to protect and serve. That’s our primary responsibility. And what – we are ensuring that anyone we put out on the street has got to be very familiar with what’s going on at the very local level. And, of course, community engagement is part of what we do. It’s part of why I signed up for the job.
Commissioner Bratton: We will keep going until we see the decrease we expect to occur, that – last year, it ended, I think, sometime to October. So, just think of a valve – that we’re opening the valve [inaudible] to deal with the fire. If we are able to douse that fire, we may be in a position to return these officers back to their original assignments earlier. So, right now it’s open ended until we get through the – now that we’re now into the summer months.
Mayor: Okay, on-topic. Going once. Going twice.
Commissioner Bratton: [inaudible] if you don’t have physical chest ache.
My colleague in London is putting that system into place with a straight controversy. I’m watching with great interest how he makes out. That – under our contracts, we don’t have that provision. So these officers going back in the field are seasoned officers. They’re veteran officers. They may have been assigned into non-patrol functions but, again, these are seasoned officers. They’ve got to be [inaudible] training. They qualify twice a year with their firearms, so that have that capability. They’ll be out there interacting with the precinct officers that are out there. So, no, it’s a program that worked very well last year. We had no issues of concern relative to their skills, their capabilities, or their performance. And that’s why we’re very encouraged about it – why Chief O’Neill is doing it again this year.
Mayor: Okay, on-topic. Going once. Going twice. Now to clarify [inaudible] ‘off-topic’. If it has to do with police, I’ll ask our police leader to stay. If it has to do with Albany or other fascinating topics, I’ll tell these guys they can get out of this hot building. So, any other police topics? Go ahead.
Commissioner Bratton: There is a qualification [inaudible]. First off, two years of college. And the vast majority of our school safety officers and traffic agents do not have that qualification. We work with them to mentor them, to [inaudible] – since my arrival, we’ve been developing programs to allow them to accelerate getting the appropriate college requirements [inaudible] would like to come into the department as police officers. So you need to understand there’s [inaudible] qualifications, [inaudible] qualifications to be a police officer versus a school traffic agent. I’ll be on New York 1’s ‘Inside City Hall’ tonight with the head of the Guardians Association, and we’ll be talking very specifically about the efforts that we’ve been engaged in for the last – over a year now, to increase minority representation, particularly African American representation, in the department. And I’m very pleased with the progress that we’ve been making in that regard. We were as high as 16 percent at one time. We’re now around 15.3 percent. New York 1 did a three-part series a little while ago on the efforts that we’re making. And so, I’m very comfortable that we’re going to see a [inaudible] dramatic turnaround in the near future on our hiring of minority candidates.
Unknown: The Commissioner will be – just to clarify – the Commissioner will be with the Guardians Association, not the Guardian newspaper, on New York 1.
Commissioner Bratton: No, no, I created it. When I was police commissioner in 1995 – after the Dirty Thirty scandal, corruption scandal – we did an analysis of the offices that were increasingly getting caught up in corruption. And we found the vast majority of them had high school education only. They tended to come on the job very young. So I had the age range to 22, and the two-year requirement. We’d done a study that would show it would not have an adverse impact on minorities – and, actually, a study done by Chief Mark, the Chief of Personnel at that time, indicated it would actually benefit African Americans, many of whom were taking advantage of the CUNY school system. And [inaudible] we actually had a higher percentage of African Americans with college credentials than with whites. And so, I’m very supportive. At a time when America is asking for better qualified, more capable police officers, why would we lower the standards? I have 60,000 candidates in line right now who have taken the exam, who have passed the exam, who have the two-year college requirement. Why would we want to lower standards for police officers, the critical position? What we are changing is the process – a four-year process to get hired as a New York City police officer. It is as much [inaudible]. A lot of things change here in four years – addresses, your lives.
So we’re working very hard – city, department, personnel – to change the whole process. I think I see a hand back there.
Question: [inaudible] concerned about the hiring process [inaudible]. If you said [inaudible] clarify what you said about black [inaudible]?
Commissioner Bratton: Thanks for asking that question. The Guardian, the English newspaper, we supported a request on their part. One of their reporters came, spent a number of time – some amount of time with us, did ride-alongs, went out to the academy. She wrote excellent articles – two excellent articles for the Guardian – and the first one was Inside William Bratton's NYPD: Broken Windows Policing is Here to Stay, Life as a Black Cop: Caught Between Love for the NYPD and the People They Serve. I’d advise reading them. We’re going to put them up on our website. Two excellent articles. The one that you’ve all jumped on is the third one by a reporter who I never talked to, never spoke to, who read the other articles and then began to pull quotes out of context to create a current, more provocative story. So if you take a look at the first two stories that – you’re all reporters – did a great job – showed us warts and all – but the third reporter basically had a focus to create a controversial article – certainly did. I actually want to thank the guy, however, because it has allowed me to talk a lot about what we’ve been doing for the last year and a half. I’ll be on Inside City Hall tonight with the Guardian Association, the black officers, who will talk about all we’re doing to develop mentoring programs, all were doing to bring people who dropped out of the process. He has interviewed 1,100 people who dropped out of the process – he and the Guardian Association. 54 of those people have already come back into the process who we in all likelihood will be able to hire as we go forward. So, I actually want to thank The Guardian for attracting all you attention to what we are doing because were doing it. Period.
Question: [inaudible] is there an issues [inaudible]
Commissioner Bratton: [inaudible] from The Guardian – we’ve been in contact with them, Steve Davis – I want a clarification of the use of quotes. Quotes are good, but the context in which they’re presented gives the quote a totally different context. [inaudible] creative writers. No, that third article took those accurate quotes and gave it a very different context.
Commissioner Bratton: Stop-question-and-frisk is not preventing people from coming on the job It’s not something that prohibits them. What it might do, however, because of a negative interaction with a New York City police officer, why would they want to become a New York City cop when they feel that they’ve been inappropriately dealt with in stop-question-and-frisk. So that’s where she took – by not talking with me, the second reporter – my accurate comments out of context. Stop-question-and-frisk is not a disqualifier. Summonses are not a disqualifier. Misdemeanor arrests are not a disqualifier to become a New York City police officer. The only absolute disqualifier is a felony conviction. The others, even if you have a misdemeanor arrest, summons activity, we will look at that but it is not an automatic disqualifier. And under no circumstance has stop-question-and-frisk activity ever been a disqualifier – and that is the impression that that guy in the story gave.
Mayor: Let me jump in for a moment. I really want to thank the commissioner for working very hard to set the record straight – and I ask all of you to get this information out.
Again, you can be a New York City police officer, even if you were once stopped. You can be a New York City police officer, even if you once had a misdemeanor. The bottom line – the point the commissioner just made about stop-and-frisk is what we need to do if we want to encourage all people in this city to be a part of this police force – all those who qualify to think about this as a great career and a way to serve others, and to continue to build a partnership between police and community and break down those boundaries and overcome the division. So I think the power of what the commissioner is saying here is we’re going to take a very robust recruitment effort, working with the [inaudible] and other fraternal organizations, working with clergy, working with community leaders – we’re going to go out into communities. We’re going to have community leaders themselves encouraging young men and women to join the NYPD as a noble profession, as a way they can make a huge difference in the lives of their community. At the same time, we continue the reforms that we’ve been devoted to for now the last year-and-a-half. The things that we are doing are giving people more faith that they can work productively with the NYPD. And I think for some it will help them to believe they should be themselves a part of the NYPD. Look at the reduction in civilian complaints. This is such a powerful point – and I’d ask you all again to note this fact – 25 percent reduction in civilian complaints from this point last year to now. That’s an extraordinary turnaround. That means people are getting a message that something is changing and they believe, because they’ve seen with their own eyes, a different kind of reality and a relationship with the NYPD. So I think we’re on the verge of a renaissance of this department on many, many levels, whether you talk about the training, whether you talk about the technology, whether you talk about the devotion to community policing strategies, but also I think it’s going to be an even more representative department, because every kind of New Yorker is going to want to be a part of the NYPD.
All right. [inaudible]
Commissioner Bratton: Not at all. Read the first two articles, and I guarantee most of you have not read the first two articles, and then match it up against the third. I think as skilled reporters, you’ll understand what the Guardian did. Those two first articles I’m very comfortable with. Show the department – warts and all, all the issues we’re facing trying to attract black officers on the department, trying to deal with Broken Windows – I have no regrets. I’m very [inaudible], as you know, to all of you. I basically speak to the facts. And what I also will speak to if I think those facts are misrepresented. So, again, I encourage you to read all three articles, and not just the third article that’s generated controversy. But again, I always try to take a negative and turn it into a positive – what was initially a negative is a positive because you’re all giving me an opportunity to talk about all the things we’re doing.
Mayor: Before we hear from – hold on a second, don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere – before we hear from the chair of the public safety committee, let me give Melissa a chance to ask her question.
Commissioner Bratton: [inaudible]
Commissioner Bratton: I think we [inaudible] and I would suggest that [inaudible] Washington Post article that would be up on [inaudible], the New York Times article and the related charts, the Bureau of Justice [inaudible] that talks about the high numbers, unfortunately, are black males that have felony convictions and there’s basically prison time. The numbers [inaudible] something that, as a country, we really need to focus on. The plus of the New York Times article was that how it impacted on their ability to get jobs because they had prison records. The Washington Post one was just a story about how impactful the overall numbers are. The numbers range, depending on which you look at, from 20 to 30 percent. That’s 20 to 30 percent of what would normally be a pool that we could reach into that I can’t touch under any circumstance. So that was my comment about that. It wasn’t a negative comment. It was a statement of fact. The Washington Post, New York Times, Bureau of Justice Administration have all been talking about it. And so, what we’re also talking about is that other forms of violation – misdemeanor, summonses – they’re not automatic disqualifiers. We’ll take a look and in fact hire many officers from all communities that have that type of history.
Mayor: Let me – hold on – okay – we’re going to let you get the follow-up, then I want to give the chair of the public safety committee an opportunity to speak – go ahead.
Question: [inaudible] barrier [inaudible]
Commissioner Bratton: Well, it’s certainly a barrier to the 20 to 30 percent who are never going to have an opportunity to be a police officer – and many of them, unfortunately, having great difficulty finding jobs, because a lot of employers will not hire somebody that has done time in prison or has a felony conviction. That’s a reality of life in America.
Commissioner Bratton: [inaudible] implied that somehow that – it was a statement that [inaudible]. It’s not something I’m making up. I’m basing it on information I’m getting from the newspapers. Is it a potential – a partial impediment, because I have a smaller pool of candidates? But the good news is, even though we’ve lost that group – I can never hire them – I had 60,000 candidates – [inaudible] 60,000 candidates. I have a lot of qualified black men and women, and we are now making an extra effort to reach back and pull those back in who dropped out of the process. And hopefully with your attention, there’s many others who might’ve been thinking about it may now in fact come back to us again.
Mayor: Let me – hold on, hold on – I think I stated the ground rules a number of times. Let’s try again. Let me say one clarification – one addition, I should say, to what the commissioner said, then I want to give Vanessa Gibson a chance to speak and then we’ll go back to questions.
I think there was – from my point of view – two elements – let me just – I’ve heard your follow-up question. I think there was a misrepresentation of the reality of how many people obviously do qualify who we want to pursue this career – and that’s the real story here. There’s lots and lots of people in this city, many within that 60,000, who qualify right now, who we want to encourage to be part of this police force, and many, many more who have not yet applied who we want to apply. And then I think, clearly, as you indicated, this is part of a bigger national problem. A lot of us are working on the larger issue of mass incarceration, and a lot of changes need to be made in this country to reduce this horrible trend, and then also to give those returning from incarceration more economic opportunity. So there’s a lot of big issues here, but I think the article missed, fundamentally, what the commissioner was saying about the fact that there were plenty of ways for people to have this opportunity, and plenty of people who want to take advantage of it, and then double-down by getting the stop-and-frisk part wrong, because stop-and-frisk does not disqualify you from applying and being a perfectly viable applicant. I have to also say, this commissioner, in all the work he has done in his career, has done extraordinary things in the name of bringing police and community together, has done extraordinary things in terms of bridging racial divides. What he did in Los Angeles – and I have mentioned this at the time – I sought out the advice of the two mayors Commissioner Bratton worked for in Los Angeles before making a final decision on police commissioner. The stories these two mayors [inaudible] of where the LAPD started – horrendous relationship between LAPD and community – and how this man turned that around in a shockingly brief period of time, and gained the trust of community leaders who had previously thought that the LAPD couldn’t be on their side. Well, the reason is, if I may editorialize, it’s because they knew his heart. They knew that he had committed his whole life to racial justice as well as public safety. And I think the things he has said since he became commissioner about making sure that no one in this department has any racist views, about making sure that we recognize the totality of our history, including the history of the African-American community, and we address it through real, tangible change – I think it’s been some of the most noble and forceful messages I’ve ever heard from a public servant. So I would’ve liked The Guardian to have looked at those many, many, many facts, and I would’ve liked them not to misrepresent his career and his beliefs.
With that, I want to thank Vanessa Gibson for coming up here very quickly from a council meeting. We’re sorry we had to get you to come this far, but it’s to your own district, and I want to thank you. You know, we do this work day in and day out, and the relationship between City Hall and the police department and the City Council is a crucial part of the work we do, the public safety committee obviously crucial in particular. And Vanessa Gibson time and time again has been a leader and a voice of wisdom and also someone we’ve consistently consulted with on how to get things right. She’s been a big part of the success, so I want to welcome Public Safety Chair Vanessa Gibson.
[City Council Member Vanessa Gibson speaks]
Mayor: Well done. All right. We will go back to the questioning.
Commissioner Bratton: [inaudible] we changed that question. They were asked [inaudible] in 2009 and ’10, had you been subject of a stop. We took a look at that as part of the changes we’re making in the overall stop-question-and-frisk program. We changed that question because really it was not a disqualifier. And in the fact that the vast majority of stops, as you know, ended up not in a summons, not in an arrest, it’s really information that’s of little use or value to us in the application process.
Commissioner Bratton: Yes, [inaudible] as Chief O’Neill [inaudible]. He was at the scene this morning, the shooting up in the Bronx. We had two officer-involved shootings. I am very comfortable that in both shootings the officers performed in an exceptional manner. I am quite comfortable that based on the preliminary briefing the incident up here in the Bronx this morning that those two officers – a sergeant and a police officer – saved that young women’s life. The suspect, we believe, attempted to shoot her on three occasions, and that the – fortunately, the gun misfired on all three instances. If it weren’t for the officers’ actions, that young women might not be with us today. So, those two officers – when I leave you I’m going to give them a call and just thank them for a job well done. Jimmy, who was up here this morning – if you can answer any specific questions they might have.
Chief O’Neill: Tony, I don’t know if you were at the briefing this morning. I’ll just give you the short version. Around 8 o’clock in the morning, the radio dispatcher [inaudible] at 2000 Valentine Avenue, a man with a gun. A sector responded along with a supervisor, and another police officer. When they got to the location, they were met by a witness who said that there was a [inaudible] male put a gun to a female’s head in the elevator. And then they directed our officers to the fourth floor. They got up to the fourth floor – there were additional people on that floor. They pointed us down to apartment 405. Our cops went down to 405. They went to the threshold of the door. They saw a male fitting that description in the apartment. They told the male to come out, and he did not. He retreated to a rear bedroom. They entered the apartment, and as they were approaching the bedroom they heard a female screaming, “Help me! Help me! He’s going to shoot me!” So they went into the bedroom. The female was in the grasp of the male. He had a gun to her head. She was able to escape from his grasp. And at that time our officers discharged multiple rounds at the perp. He was declared DOA at St. Barnabas Hospital at 8:54 hours this morning. She has a graze wound. We’re not sure where the graze wound is from. It is still under investigation.
Chief O’Neill: Tony, I’m going to have to get you an update [inaudible].
Mayor: What else? On this – anything else on policing? We’ll do any other off-topic after that. Last call on policing. Going once. Going twice. You may leave [inaudible] hot and sweaty environment. It did get a little better.
Okay, anything else non-policing? Non-policing, Emily.
Mayor: Wait, hold on. Yes absolutely [inaudible]. Okay.
One more second, Emily. I won’t leave you. [laughs] Okay, continue.
Mayor: No, I’m waiting to hear – as I said – [inaudible] larger vision for addressing income inequality. [inaudible] I’m very impressed by the comments she’s given so far on a host of issues. I thought her speech on voting rights was very powerful – I thought her vision for that was exactly right. I’m very impressed by her criminal justice reform speech, by her immigration reform speech. What I am waiting to hear about is the fight against income inequality – how we raise wages and benefits, how we create the kind of progressive taxation system we need. So, it’s June. The election is next year. There’s plenty of time, but that’s what I am listening for.
Mayor: You know, I think it’s best to hear the ideas and then, you know, make a decision. But I think, again, very impressed by what she’s saying so far and I look forward to hearing more.
Mayor: I’ve always liked what I’ve heard from Bernie Sanders. I think Bernie Sanders is a great [inaudible] and a great voice for a fairer society and fairer economy.
Question: The governor today [inaudible] 421-a proposal [inaudible]
Mayor: I think we cut a great deal. I think we demanded of developers what should have been demanded of them long ago. We would no longer provide tax breaks for condos, you know, luxury condos – imagine, right? Luxury condos getting a tax break in New York City. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Our plan would end that. Our plan would ensure affordability in every building subsidized with a huge [inaudible] from the [inaudible] 421-a, and combined in our proposal – the mansion tax, asking people who buy high-value homes to contribute a little more in taxes so we can build affordable housing. I think it’s a fundamentally different approach. It’s the right approach. We gave all of the different elements in Albany plenty of notice of the vision. And obviously it had a lot of support. So, I’ve never bought into the notion there wasn’t time to get to the larger plan. But I have said, if they don’t’ want to get to a larger plan and they don’t want to get to the larger reform, then we should just go ahead and end the 421-a program once and for all. Yes?
Mayor: Well, I think – I think that the – I agree with his analysis. I think that the journalists went out of their way to splice together different ideas in a very unfair pattern. Again, this is a leader who has devoted his entire career to racial harmony and fairness. And so, I think what is important to recognize here is the fact that in this country, there is a very sad tradition of mass incarnation. Of course, that has an impact on many, many areas and that must be changed. But that still leaves many, many thousands of qualified people, including African American men, who we want to become members of the NYPD. And that’s how we’ll proceed with our recruitment effort. But the other piece, as I noted before, the idea of inferring that stop and frisk was somehow an impediment to an individual applying if they had previously been stopped, when in fact, this commissioner changed that practice and took if off the application form. A little fact checking would’ve made that a much better article.
Question: [Inaudible] some City Council members who are not very happy with the fact that [inaudible] pension disability reform [inaudible]. What’s your response to [inaudible]?
Mayor: Well, what is going to happen when it comes to Albany and New York is always a fascinating question. But let me tell you what I think should happen and what we’ve done. First of all, just an update for those of you who haven’t heard. The legislation that I’ve proposed related to disability for our uniformed service members passed the City Council today by a vote of 31 to 17. So it had very, very substantial support. The fact is we have had something we had to address. I’ve said it for many, many months. We have to make sure that our police officers and our firefighters, who are newer on the job, are protected when they have a serious disability. And we presented an original concept of how to do that, which proved to need more work. And I’ve been very straightforward about that. The original concept wasn’t everything it should’ve been. We went back. We amended it. We came up with a stronger version that really did gain a lot of support in the Council. And that’s the one that we found broad agreement on and that’s what’s been voted on today. The plan that has been put forward by the unions would take us back to so many of the excesses of the past that led us to a reality of huge long-term liabilities that are right now hanging over the future of this city and state. They are hanging over our children and grandchildren. They are – if you look around the country right now, there’s really troubling trends with cities and states around the country, either going into bankruptcy or having profound fiscal problems, or having a pension system that will not be afloat for much longer. We have to address long-term liabilities and I have done that, obviously, with the healthcare savings in our labor plan. But here’s an opportunity to come up with a better model to protect our first responders if they have a real disability, but not fall into the pattern of the past that proved to be very, very dangerous for our fiscal health. The City Council agreed with that, and they voted for it today. We now want the Senate and the Assembly to recognize that New York City has spoken – both the mayor and City Council have spoken with one voice and we believe this is the way to solve the problem. And so, I will certainly pursue that with our leaders in Albany.
Question: Mr. Mayor, the City Council also passed the [inaudible] Fair Chance Act [inaudible]. I’m just wondering if you support [inaudible]?
Mayor: No, we have to address this issue and I mentioned earlier the reality of mass incarceration. This is an American tragedy that ran wild for decades. You know, there was a legitimate and very [inaudible] crime problem, particularly in the 1980s in this country. The response that was developed came with huge unintended consequences, and that has been mass incarceration for a huge number of people, including people who had very minor offenses, and were victimized by mandatory sentencing laws and unfair prosecution. So we’ve got to undo that. Now, obviously, we’re going to be very tough to those who do serious crimes and they deserve to pay the punishment. And many of them will be in prison for a long, long time. But a lot of people who should never have been in prison as long as they were got caught up in this reality. And for those who paid their debt to society, we want them to be rehabilitated. We want them to reintegrate into society. They have to have economic opportunity. This legislation seeks to actually open the door for jobs for people, rather than damning them into no economic future.
Question: [Inaudible] I believe the governor is supporting your 5-year-plan [inaudible]
Mayor: I think that the governor should recognize the fiscal health of this city, the fiscal health of this state are necessary. That must be a first consideration in terms our future. I think he did very important work when he came in as governor to try and right the fiscal ship for the state of New York. And I think he should be cognizant of the fact that we have to protect the long-term fiscal health of the city if we want to make sure we can provide the services that people depend on. So I think the bill that we’ve sent – that I have sent, the council has sent – to Albany achieves both ends. It is fiscally responsible, while at the same time addressing the needs of our workers. And I hope everyone in Albany looks at that, and recognizes that if they miss this chance to address things fairly, they’re going certainly to deepen the fiscal problems we face in the future.
Unknown: A little louder – Board of Health.
Mayor: I feel this very strongly that, you know – I know a lot about the communities involved because of my previous work as a City Council member, representing a substantial piece of the Orthodox Jewish community – and I have spoken to healthcare providers who are very actively involved with the community who has re-hashed it [inaudible]. It was my view that the previous approach was a Band-Aid – it wasn’t changing anything. The obligation to get a form of consent – that was often ignored – and did not do anything to prevent unhealthy practices. The new plan reaches women through their doctors, through their hospitals, informs them of their rights, gives them a chance to make the decision they see fit for their baby, and then also brings community leaders into coalition with the city government to identify anyone who is engaged in a practice and is doing it in an unhealthy manor. There is a further agreement that we will together ensure that that individual no longer is involved in that work. That’s a lot – that’s a lot of change and that’s going to allow us to actually make sure the children are safe, as opposed to what was bluntly just a cosmetic approach before.
Mayor: Although I’m not an expert about the details, I can safely say, clearly the situation with Corizon has not been acceptable. And the original sin obviously lays with the providers themselves. But I am certain, as with everything involved with the Department of Correction – the previous administration could’ve done better and we have to keep doing better. But you’re going to be seeing obviously, some very, very substantial changes.
Unknown: Last call.
Mayor: I think the idea of informing people of the sodium content of what they are eating is incredibly smart, effective, and important. I will tell you a few personal things – so I do like salt way too much, and I fight constantly to decrease my salt intake, and I have strong voices in my home reminding me of that need. My wife is very, very devoted to reducing everyone’s salt intake in the home. And Chiara decided to do an homage to that fact and came up with a cartoon character called the “Sodium Destroyer,” patterned after my wife – it’s a true story. [Laughs] So in our home this a very powerful message that I keep trying to learn and do better on. So I think, like many, many New Yorkers, the temptation is great, but we all have to do better. But it parallels the reality of the previous administration – I give Michael Bloomberg great credit for having worked hard to get calorie counts up on the menus of chain restaurants, because I’ve changed my behavior. I used to march into a Burger King or a Chipotle, and everything was great and I would choose something without knowing at all the calorie impact and then when those counts went up, I was in shock at what I’d been eating. And there are a whole of things I don’t go near anymore. There was a lot of bacon cheese burgers that I love that I literally can’t eat anymore because I know too much now. So I think the same will be true with the salt counts, that people are going to have to make some real decisions, but they’ll be decisions that will actually make them healthier and give them a longer life.
Thank you, everyone.