July 15, 2015
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much.
I just want to make sure – is this – is this the flyer from the dinner?
Elizabeth Gill: No, this is National Night Out.
Mayor: Oh, that’s National Night Out – my apologies. That’s a good thing, too – that’s coming up.
Commissioner William Bratton, NYPD: You might want to mention that –
Mayor: We will mention that, yes.
But I want to thank you, Elizabeth. That is something wonderful, that with your leadership – and I know you’ve been involved for years and committed to making this community better – the idea of bringing our officers who are new to the community together with community leaders and community members – to have a dinner, to break bread, to get to know each other – that is the kind of thing that’s making a huge difference. And it’s the kind of thing you’re going to see a lot more of going forward – people really getting to know each other and becoming partners – and it happened because of your leadership. Let’s thank Elizabeth Gill for all she does.
Well, we are here today to talk about Summer All Out – the success that this effort is already achieving. And it’s something that makes me very proud of the leadership of the NYPD and of the men and women of the NYPD.
I like to give people historical context, and I will remind you that some weeks ago people were very concerned about the direction things were going in, and I said – and I believed in my heart – the NYPD had the situation under control – had dealt with adversity before, and had overcome it. The NYPD has an extraordinary ability to make strategic adjustments, to apply resources where they’re needed at most, and to change a situation on a dime – we’ve seen it time and again.
So here, we’re in a position now to say Summer All Out is working. It’s having a very positive impact on the safety of New Yorkers all over the city, and it’s something people should be very, very proud of.
And here, in the 4-7 Precinct, is some of the best work being done, some of the best examples of the success of this initiative.
The initiative started on June 8. Shootings are now down nearly 30 percent in the Summer All Out precincts combined. So in just over a month, shootings down 30 percent in those precincts.
And I want you to know – this is a lot about the brainpower of the NYPD. I happen to be standing next to the man who brought us CompStat several decades ago. And CompStat, as I have learned – and I admire it so greatly – it’s not just a set of numbers, it’s a way of thinking. It’s a way of thinking about strategy, it’s a way of – about being agile and making adjustments, finding new ways to address problems, understanding the problems in their totality, and listening to people on the ground to figure out what’ll work. That approach has been working, and it is now enhanced by the kind of partnerships that are being created between police and community. And Elizabeth has given us a great example of one version of that, but it’s happening in lots of ways, and it’s part of why we’re getting safer.
I know that that partnership is how we will break through and make this city even safer.
So let me just take a moment to thank all of the leaders of the NYPD who are here – you will hear from several of them in a moment. I want to offer a particular thank you to the Bronx Borough Commander Larry Nikunen – thank you for your leadership.
And the 4-7 is a precinct where a lot of great work happens. There are challenges, but there’s also a great response to those challenges. So I want to thank all the men and women of the 4-7 Precinct who are with us here today.
And because we believe in police and community together, we have community leaders and clergy who are part of the solution as well. Let’s thank them.
And once in a while we elected officials also help.
I want to thank –
I want to thank Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda, Council Member Andy King, and the chair of our public safety committee, Council Member Vanessa Gibson. Thank you all for your leadership.
And Elizabeth, I know, whether it’s the members oft he 47 Precinct Community Council or the Edenwald Houses Community Council, I know there are so many organizations working every day to figure out with police how to do things better. So thank you to all.
So, again, a moment of history – 2014, a record-setting year. The leaders to my right did something extraordinary. Remember, 2013 was a great year for crime fighting. 2014 was an even better year. They said it couldn’t be done – it was done. The lowest number of murders in almost 50 years – a half century – tremendous progress on so many fronts.
And the beauty of the approach that the NYPD takes – and again, it’s in large measure because of the inspiration of the commissioner – is to never stop. Never stop trying to improve, never stop trying to innovate.
It could be easy to rest on laurels. That’s not part of the discussion. I can tell you I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of meetings with this commissioner and his team. I’ve never heard once any idea of resting on laurels of enough has been done. It’s always how do we get to the next innovation, the next improvement?
So some weeks back, when we saw some challenges emerging – and it’s very, very important to look those challenges in the face, and never deny we have a problem, and say there’s a problem, we’re going to address it right now – that’s when the idea of moving Summer All Out quickly crystalized; and at that point, the decision to deploy 330 officers to focus on high-crime areas and to focus in particular on some of the challenges we’re having with gangs and crews.
One of the areas was the 4-7. Last year, even with the record good news on crime around the city, the 4-7 had challenges. It was a place where we particularly had a problem with shootings and one of the most violent precincts in the city. Edenwald Houses had challenges with violence and drug dealing. Obviously, this is a place that made sense to apply Summer All Out this year.
Since Summer All Out began in the 4-7, shootings are down 70 percent – 70 percent.
And again, it is not just the great work of the men and women in uniform – it is the partnership with the community. That appreciation dinner, that gathering is just one example. And I believe it says to all of the good people who serve us – it says how much we appreciate them, how much they are welcome, how much they are needed, and how much people want to get to know them and share with them an understanding of what the community needs and share with them the information they need so they can succeed.
These are professionals. I always like to talk about our public servants as professionals. Whether it’s a police officer or firefighter or sanitation worker or a teacher, it doesn’t matter – they’re all professionals. And professionals want to work with others. They want to get better all the time. They want to figure out how they can do their job best. Police officers want that information from the community so they can get the bad guys, they can get the guns, they can make a difference – and it’s happening here.
In the past, Elizabeth certainly has said, and others have said, that sometimes they felt the concerns of residents went ignored. Sometimes they felt under-policed – that there were issues that needed to be addressed and they didn’t get attention when they needed to.
We take that very seriously and we don’t want any resident, particularly the leaders of the community, to feel ignored. And if they say there’s a hot spot, there’s a problem, we want it addressed. And we want the officers to have the information they need to do that. Elizabeth said – I’m quoting you here – she said that this new effort, All Out, and the focus on bringing police and community together and neighborhood policing, she said, it’s the best thing to happen in years, and it feels like someone is finally listening. Well, Elizabeth, we are, and we aim to take that desire on your part, and so many other people’s part, that we build that partnership. We’re going to turn that into action.
And, I want to say that residents of the 4-7 and all over the city – take time to get to know the officers who patrol your streets, especially under this new neighborhood policing model. It’s the right thing to do. Officers are going to get to know you. You need to get to know them. Take time to share information. Take time to show them where there are problems and give them leads, give them a sense of what needs to be addressed, and they will appreciate that. And they’ll appreciate, also, when you say thank you and you tell them how important their work is.
We have to do this because it’s the right thing to do, because it’s going to make us all safer, community and officers alike. We also have to do this because we have to overcome a history. We have to overcome some tensions and some challenges and some separation. We have to close that gap – and we can. It’s something Commissioner Bratton and I talk about all the time and believe in deeply. Not only do we need to – we can and we will.
And that is the most effective way to police – in unison with the community. That is why we have made reforms to stop-and-frisk. And there’s been a huge reduction in the kinds of stops that weren’t working, the kinds of stops that were unconstitutional and unnecessary. That is why we changed the marijuana policy, so that we did not focus on arrests for the smallest possession of marijuana, which disproportionately affected a lot of our young men of color. That is why we have been retraining –
– thank you. That is why we have been retraining every officer in how to be more effective across the board and how to deescalate conflict, and that was informed –
– that was informed by some of the challenges we face, including the one on our mind this week, the Garner tragedy. But we turned that tragedy into a focal point for change and improvement and reform.
We’re moving forward with body cameras, which are going to be a step forward for everyone – accountability for everyone involved and part of creating greater transparency. And I would say the thing that all of this leads to is Commissioner Bratton’s new model for neighborhood policing – and I could not be more excited about this. This is going to be a game-changer – it’s going to reset the equation for the long-term. It’s going to take us to some place so many of us have dreamed of, of that kind of partnership between police and community. Officers are going to have an opportunity to really build the relationships, get to know people – everyday residents, clergy, shopkeepers, leaders of the community – to really build a bond that will make a difference. I said it last night, I’ll say it again here – creating safer streets from stronger bonds – simple concept – safer streets from stronger bonds between police and community.
We are the safest big city in America. We will continue to be. We will, in fact, go farther.
A few words in Spanish before I introduce Commissioner Bratton –
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, the man who has been guiding us over this last year-and-a-half, consistently in the right direction, and is doing so much to bring police and community together, Commissioner Bill Bratton.
Mayor: Okay, we’re going to on-topic questions first, then off-topic. On topic first. On topic. On topic.
Question: Yes, these – I see these officers is in the streets, new officers and the impact, and the All Out summer officers. However, the first thing I see is they’re looking at vehicle registrations and inspection stickers. Are they – and that tells me that they’re on a quota system. Is that what I’m seeing – the quota system, the tickets – by these new officers?
Commissioner Bratton: That might be what you’re seeing.
Who are you? That’s your opinion. Good luck to you. That’s not what they’re doing.
Question: There’s been so much [inaudible] since you became mayor that if you change the police department and you put in [inaudible] and you chance the style of policing, that New York City would go back to the “bad old days” of the 70s, if you will. When you first saw that – I guess it’s this last month – that shootings have gone down 30 percent, did you feel vindicated?
Mayor: I feel that the men and women of the NYPD have been vindicated. I feel the leadership of the NYPD has been vindicated. I feel that the community residents and leaders who help to drive down crime have been vindicated. You know, we really have to understand – and I’ve often talked about the 20-plus years of crime reduction in this city, which is an extraordinarily good news story that still needs to get a lot more attention, was done by the men and women of the NYPD first and foremost, but they had many allies at the community level – tenant patrols and block associations and so many others who contributed. So what I said a few months ago is we will turn this around. And I had absolute faith that it would happen and it is happening – and we have only just begun. So I feel good that when – when the energies of these men and women in uniform combined with the focus of community members and leaders, when you put that together, that is an unbeatable combination.
Question: I was wondering if Chief O’Neill could give me the numbers for the 1-2-0?
Mayor: You want it for the Bronx? Okay. Chief O’Neill, Anna Sanders of the Staten Island Advance wants numbers just for the Bronx – that’s what I heard – because she wants to be a little different today.
Chief of Department James O’Neill, NYPD: I always like talking about the Bronx, except the 1-2-0 is not in the Bronx.
Alright, so, during the initiative, shooting incidents are even in the 1-2-0 – three versus three. Index crimes, total complaints – they’re up – they’re up slightly up 11 – and that’s a percentage of 9.2 percent. So they’re even in shootings, slightly up in crime in the 1-2-0.
Question: So there hasn’t actually been any positive change in 1-2-0 because of the program?
Chief O’Neill: There’s positive change because there’s more police officers on the street. You know, we can’t just do this day to day. We have to look over a longer period of time. So I – I imagine by the end of the summer months, the 1-2-0 will be definitely headed in the right direction.
Mayor: I just want to interrupt the questioning for a moment to welcome a very special guest. And I’m going to say two things about Speaker Carl Heastie – that he, first of all – let’s thank him first of all.
I want to say, over these last months, I could not have had a better partner in terms of the relationship between state government and city government. We talked constantly. The Assembly achieved a great deal in this legislative session – and the Assembly lead the action much of the time – it was the place where real, substantive work was happening. And I just want to thank you, Speaker, for that partnership, and for all you and your colleagues achieved. And it is very hot in this room and this is one of the few elected officials who said I don’t need to speak – that rarely happens, so let’s give him a round of applause for that. You’re a hero to everyone in the room.
Alright, continuing on topic – on topic – Grace.
Question: This issue came up before when you first announced the additional police officers – talking about building relationships with communities – but are there any guidelines or rules that are being emphasized to police officers in terms of sort of accepting a cup of coffee when they walk the beat. Or, you know, in terms of a dinner like this, is that provided by the community? Do police officers pay? And are there any concerns that there might –
Commissioner Bratton: I have no concerns about any of that. Let’s get real. Let’s get real. I have no concerns about that. If this community wants to provide a dinner of a thank-you to these officers, let’s get real and thank them for thanking those cops.
Mayor: If this were a baseball team, Bratton would be The Closer.
He just, like – he just shuts that down.
Question: This question is for Mrs. Gill, actually, because I want to hear about this dinner.
Mayor: Yes. What did you serve, right?
Question: I want to know what made you decide to have a dinner? What did you want to accomplish with it? And what was the success? You had one last year, I think you said, and you did it again this year.
Elizabeth Gill: Okay, first of all, we do this for all of our new recruits.
Elizabeth Gill: I’ve been doing this for 26 years.
Elizabeth Gill: All Out – we included All Out because they came last year, so we said, “You’re a part of our family also, so you will come to dinner with us.”
Question: And what do you feel makes the difference after you do this dinner?
Elizabeth Gill: The difference is, they feel that the community wants them here. There is so much negativity out about police and community, and we wanted them to know that this community welcomed them. We want them here, we need them here, and this our way of showing them that we appreciate that they’re here serving us.
Question: And do you find that police are receptive?
Elizabeth Gill: Very receptive. I just have to tell you a story about the All Out. We had one officer here who had 21 years and I said, “What are you doing here?” He said, “Because I wanted to come out into the 47 precinct.” He heard about us.
Elizabeth Gill: 21 years. Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you. Alright, yes.
Question: Is there – in terms of setting this equation, is there sort of a greater blur between community policing and exercising authority? And why or why not?
Mayor: No, there is not. I think neighborhood policing, the model that we are implementing now, is absolutely consistent with keeping communities safe and keeping public order. I think it’s absolutely consistent with the notion of the respect that people should have for the police, but also the respect police should have for communities. So I actually think this is the direction we needed to go in for a long time. Some people said there’s a bit of back to the future here – I agree with that too. There once was a time when the cop on the beat knew everyone and they knew him or her and that worked, but I think it’s a very natural approach that makes all the sense in the world.
Question: The latest CompStat numbers show an increase in – this is probably more for Commissioner Bratton – but the latest CompStat numbers show an increase in rape and misdemeanor sex crimes up dramatically from last year this week. I’m just wondering how you’re addressing that.
Mayor: I’ll start and pass to the commissioner. We take it very, very seriously. Obviously, it’s a horrible crime and we’re going to address it. Some of the reality in recent years is that, through a lot of effort, both by the NYPD and by community organizations, we’re getting women to come forward and acknowledge a crime that in the past, sadly, people felt they couldn’t. So some of this is about being honest and blunt and getting the message out that we need you to come forward – and that’s why some changes happen in numbers. But there’s also a problem we have to address, and we take it very seriously, and we’re putting resources into addressing it.
Commissioner Bratton: Expanding on the mayor’s comment, the horrendous rape that’s been very much reported in the media, and we thank you for that – the name and the description and the photo of the individual raping the 82-year-old woman, I believe – that is a case in point where she was not going to report that incredible crime – a degree of shame, etcetera, about that, which is so often the experience of a victim of a rape. And can you imagine – if we did not know about that, that character would still be running around out there, unknown to us and now at least we know who we’re looking for and we will get to him before he can do that again. So, it is still a significantly under-reported crime. We do everything we can to encourage coming forward. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s something that shouldn’t happen to any human being. It does. But we need people to help us report it so we can get those that are committing those acts so they don’t do it to somebody else. Dermot Shea, who heads up our CompStat, will give you some quick number perspective on the issue. I’m of the opinion, being quite frank with you, not that we’re experiencing more, but that it’s being reported more – and I hope that’s the case, because we spend a lot of time trying to put out the word about help us – that we can’t help you unless you’re able to help us – and to get these characters off the street.
At this time, if there’s a good news story coming out of all this, we’re not aware of it in the city at this time – a serial rapist issue. In other words, somebody who is engaged in a pattern. That’s why we’re so anxious to get this character that raped the 82-year-old woman off the street very quickly before he basically continues those very egregious actions. Dermot? Dermot Shea.
Deputy Commissioner Dermot Shea, NYPD: When you look at the year-to-date in New York City – across New York City, not just Bronx specific – we have a 6 percent increase in rapes. It comes out 44 rapes. What we’ve seen recently is half of that increase – an increase of 22 – occurred just in the last month. To reiterate the commissioner’s comments, we break down the rapes that occur extensively. Nothing is more important. I can – with sleeping good at night – tell you that the officers in front of me here will do everything they can to combat this crime. We understand the severity of it. When you look at the rapes that are occurring, the vast majority – over 90 percent – are occurring indoors. The reason for that is that the vast majority of rapes that we see reported to us consistently is either of a domestic nature or it’s a known-to, or boyfriend-girlfriend type. And that does not diminish those crimes, but that is the reality of what we see.
A further category of what we see is stranger rapes – and that would be the category that is very much in the news this week with that horrific act. We are up ten stranger rapes year-to-date, so we do have an increase. That’s across New York City. The majority of what we see with the increase this year is occurring in Brooklyn and the Bronx, but again I just want to put everyone at ease. The detectives in Special Victims are doing tremendous work categorizing these crimes. We do not see any patterns with these crimes that are occurring across the city, and it is unfortunately very difficult to counter. Is it an increase? Is it an increase because of the reporting? One of our deputy commissioners that is not here, Susan Herman, has done extensive work since she’s come on board in the NYPD, working with hospitals, working with schools to increase the reporting. But we are aware, obviously, of the 6 percent increase and we are actively doing everything that we can to combat it and knock it down.
The last thing I’ll mention with these rapes is we have seen an increase, somewhat, of – like other crimes – the use of the Internet. So it’s something that we’re working on and we will work more on public awareness, whether it’s, most recently, Craigslist to set up meetings. Whether you’re selling sneakers or whether you’re going to meet somebody, we have seen an increase of people meeting on whether it’s dating websites or this type, and then crimes occurring after the fact. So that’s one avenue we think we’re going to look to expand on our crime awareness.
Mayor: Thank you very much. And that scenario – where people obviously have to exercise a lot of caution when they meet someone they do not know via the Internet.
Question: Last year, you sort of drew a strong reaction in December when you said that you had given – you had trained your son to take special care in encounters with police. And earlier this week you said police have come a long way since that time. Have they come far enough where that kind of advice isn’t needed anymore?
Mayor: Again, I think the thing we’re talking about here is the work that’s being done to bring police and community together and to move us forward. I think we have to keep at that work of reform and I’m very committed to it. So I want the conversation in this city to be about where we are going. And that’s what today celebrates.
Question: Just sort of to jump off that – back in December, following the Eric Garner grand jury decision, you didn’t use the phrase specifically that you used last night – “All lives matter. Blue lives matter.” Why the decision to use that phrasing last night and not use it in December?
Mayor: Again, I think we need to talk about where we’re going, and so I’m really not interested, respectfully, in retrospective questions. Right now, we are doing everything to move this city forward and that’s what the focus should be.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you mentioned that in the Summer All Out precincts, since it began, shootings are down nearly 30 percent. Is somebody able to provide the stats for the other major crimes?
Mayor: Sure. You want it now or should we just get it to you in follow-up?
Unknown: Alright, so in the Summer All Out precincts, we’re down in index crimes 5.8 percent, since it began on June 8. And that’s a raw number of 133. From 2275 last year to 2142 this year. And that’s in the ten All Out precincts.
Commissioner Bill Bratton: If I may speak for a moment on this – I know there’s an incredible fascination on the part of the media with the spikes up or down over a two-week period, one-week period, one-month period. We, of necessity, the police have to be on it every hour of every day. It’s important that we are able to put our cops very quickly where we are seeing spikes and increases. But for your purposes, the reality is, is you have to look at these things over an extended period of time. The idea of arbitrary periods of time, etcetera, we engage in it because we must. [inaudible] suggests that you look over longer trends, because any of the experts that look at these things – criminologists, etcetera – will tell you the idea you need to be working in quarters, or semiannual, or annual to get a true perspective of what’s going on. The look-see for a week, they spike up – we had a very tough Monday this Monday – that in terms of – so is crime all of a sudden overwhelming New York City because we had one bad day? Not at all. So just a little counseling about reporting statistics that you really do have to look over longer term trends. As you may recall, beginning this year, that we had an increase – and we talked back then about it would level off. It has leveled off. We’re half way through the summer and we’re trending very well. And, in all likelihood, we’ll end this year with the lowest number of index crimes in the last 20-some-odd years overall. So just a word of, not caution or even counsel, but just the idea that it’s very easy with numbers as low as we have in this city, fortunately, to have something seem way out of proportion, because the numbers are so small a few numbers, all of the sudden, percentage-wise, throw it off. I think what we need to continue to stay focused on is where are we going overall or over time. And, where we are going over time is clearly in the right direction – and that is continuing this year as it did last year and for the last 20-some-odd years.
Mayor: Okay, last call on topic. Where? You’re pointing somewhere – where? Go ahead.
Karen Hinton: Right there.
Mayor: I see Karen Hinton is pointing and I saw no one at the other end.
Karen Hinton: Mara didn’t get a seat.
Mayor: Who did not – what?
Karen Hinton: Mara did not get a seat.
Mayor: You’re way over there, Mara. Go ahead.
Commissioner Bratton: She’s spying on the community.
Mayor: That’s right – [laughs] – Mara Gay, undercover. Go ahead.
Question: This is on policing in general, Mr. Mayor, it’ll be a year on Friday since Eric Garner was killed on Staten Island, and you know, a few months later, when a grand jury declined to indict the officer in his death, you spoke in the next hours about, you know, conversations that you and the first lady needed to have with your son, Dante, about how to handle police encounters. So this is a two-part question – you know, first can you tell us a little bit about your decision to talk about your fears for Dante on that day and why you thought that was important? And then secondly, you know, you’ve received a lot of backlash from those remarks and, you know, your other vows to overhaul policing in general, and we haven’t heard you speak about your role as a father in the same way since –
Mayor: Mara – Mara, this is like an essay.
Question: [inaudible] in the same way about police …
Mayor: Okay, my values on –
Question: Have you changed? Have you changed your tone or approach?
Mayor: No. My values are the same values. My approach is the same approach. And I’m very comfortable with who I am and what I believe. The bottom line is, again – I don’t know if you could hear the questions up here, which were very similar – we’ve got to focus on moving forward. We’ve got to leave the past behind, bring police and community together, get ourselves safer for community and officers alike, and move forward.
I know the media, with all due respect, likes to look backwards a lot. I think the people want to look forward.
Mayor: We’re going to go to off topic. We’re going to off topic now. Now, first, before we do just two, everyone here from Cardinal Spellman High School, thank you. I particularly want to thank the Dean of Students Collin Smith, thank you for hosting us today.
Before I turn to off-topic questions, this is a chance for anyone to escape who wants to escape. If you’re an elected official, a police leader, a community leader, and you want to get off the stage now, it’s a great time. And if you want to stand here and enjoy my pain and suffering, you may stay with me.
Mayor: Alright, off topic.
Mayor: I’m sorry, louder, please?
Question: At the D-train by Fordham, it’s clear that the MetroCard machine was broken and – or vandalized – and there was someone there taking people’s money to buy MetroCards for them. How prolific of a problem is this?
Mayor: I don’t know if that’s your precinct or not, but you’re the expert on this larger topic.
Commissioner Bratton: I’m sorry, what was the question about? A broken fare machine and someone attempting to sell –
Question: Yes, so the machine was either broken or vandalized and there was someone there taking money to buy MetroCards –
Commissioner Bratton: That’s correct. It’s very common practice to vandalize those machines just for that purpose, so that they effectively extort you into giving them money instead of putting money in the machine. That’s something we treat very seriously, and we will arrest for that very quickly. So I do not encourage you to engage in that activity at all, because we do treat it very seriously. It costs the MTA millions of your tax dollars every year every time one of these characters vandalizes those machines, and it creates a phenomenal inconvenience to the public as a whole.
Question: Yeah – Commissioner, how concerned are you regarding a call to decriminalize public urination [inaudible] –
Commissioner Bratton: I’m very concerned with that. We should not be decriminalizing – and I’ve made that quite clear to the City Council. Are there alternative ways of dealing with it without removing the ability of the police to deal with it criminally? Certainly – and we’ve talked about that – we’re agreeable to talking about that. But a number of the initiatives that have been put forward – whether it’s fare evasion, public urination, open containers of alcohol – these are things where police need the power of the criminal law to effectively stop and deal with the person, then have different options in their tool kit – admonition, move along, summons potential, civil process – but to decriminalize – I’m sorry, you just open the Pandora’s Box, if you will, to all types of issues where our officers would be significantly impacted in their ability to deal with these types of public nuisance offenses.
Mayor: And let me just – Juliet – just say amen. Again, I’m going to challenge all of you to recognize – the commissioner and I share this philosophy deeply – some call it Broken Windows, some call it quality-of-life policing. I believe in it and I believe it’s one of the reasons why we became a safer city over the last 20-plus years, and I’ve said many times, it evolves with the times, it’s changed and updated. That’s why we did the decrease in marijuana arrests. That’s why we did the increase in Vision Zero enforcement. But I agree with the commissioner. There are categories of crimes that have to be recognized as fundamental problems. And that doesn’t mean you don’t have a range of addressing it. Part of what the commissioner said very consistently is good policing evolves a lot of tools. Sometimes it is that warning. Sometimes it is a summons. Sometimes it’s a civil action. Sometimes it’s an arrest for criminal activity. We’re going to use all the tools, but one thing I can tell you for sure – we are going to address quality of life problems aggressively, as we always have.
Question: On that note, we are getting an increase in complaints about the prevalence of homeless people on the street – sleeping on the street, urinating on the street, sometimes assaulting people on the street. I’m wondering what you’re doing about that.
Mayor: Well, I’ll start and pass to the commissioner, and if the chief wants to get in as well. We’re going to deal with it aggressively, we have been and we will be more and more. On the policing side, that’s one part of the equation. Another thing I’ve talked about a lot lately – and the first lady’s talked about a lot – is the mental health issues that are underlying so much of this. We put a huge investment in new mental health services into the recently-passed city budget. You’re going to see some very major changes in how we approach mental health in this city, and particularly how we approach the mentally ill homeless. We think that the current approach – the one that’s pervaded for years in this city – has been insufficient. We’re going to be much more creative and much more aggressive. But the police will continue – especially, an assault – that’s a criminal action – the police will continue to enforce that vigorously.
Commissioner Bratton: Let me expand on that. The issue of quality-of-life is something I’m certainly known for not neglecting – that Sir Robert Peale’s admonition that our mission is to deal with the prevention of crime and disorder. 20 years in this city – the 70s and 80s – there was no focus on disorder at all, and we saw the results of what New York looked like the 90s. But on the issue of homelessness, the idea of the homeless population, we police behavior – not the condition. It is unfortunate that so many people, through circumstances oftentimes beyond their control, find themselves homeless, find themselves on the street. There is – being quite frank with you – nothing that we the police will do about that condition. But we will do something about behavior using the tools averrable to us – whether it be the criminal law or other alternatives that might be more advantageous. The recent circumstance of the individual up in the West Side of Manhattan that’s received so much continuing attention – we have one of our police officers up there – female officer, God love her – she knows that gentlemen. She’s been working for months with him trying to deal with his issues. He’s an extremely emotionally disturbed individual – schizophrenic – that – and so all the attention is actually exacerbating his decision – pursuing him for 30 or 40 blocks throughout the city is certainly doing nothing to calm him down – rather, it’s agitating him. So what do our officers do when they deal with him? They have the option to arrest him, put him through the system, and tie up officers, court personnel, with no significant benefit. So instead, we try to attempt to take him through medical means to where he can at least see doctors, maybe get back on his meds. So we are constantly trying to balance between the criminal and using other tools. We are in the process of beginning training – and this is not a new issue – this is something – as soon as I came through the door 18 months ago – and the mayor and I are truly joined at the hip on this issue – it is the idea of enforcing the law, but doing it in as humane a way as possible, and giving my officers as much discretion as possible, but as much training. To that end, I was at the academy this morning meeting with the trainers’ session, in which, over these next number of months, we’re going to be training upwards of 4,000 officers and eventually 10,000 – four days training on how to deal with the emotionally disturbed. What are the tools? And more importantly, the mayor is working on a much broader-based issue of how to deal with that problem. Because what’s happened, unfortunately – the homeless – within that population, there is a population of people who have significant emotional issues. And we’re seeing that time and again, unfortunately, with the violence that they sometimes engage in. What is happening, however, is that because of that fear, the fear is now spreading to the total homeless population, the vast majority of whom are not engaging in illegal behavior, not engaging in violence, but are now being seen by the public as somebody to fear – and that’s unfortunate, because the vast majority of them, they’re there, they might be sitting in a park somewhere, you might not want to be sitting beside them, but they have every bit as much right to be in that park as you or I to sit on that bench. And this is the decision our officers have to make in the sense of we focus on the behavior, not the condition. I’ve been touring the city parks the last couple of weeks – visited Tompkins Park down at the Lower East Side the other day, up to Washington Square Park, Central Park, Union Square Park – I’ll be making the rounds to some of the additional boroughs – to take a look, particularly in that critical public space in the warm weather, to ensure that we provide space for everybody. And what we’re going to require in additional policing we’re putting into all of those parks is that we will be focused on behavior, not the condition. And so, it’s a difficult issue, and one that this city is really going to be facing up to – and not just because of the recent reporting of it. This is something we’ve been working on – the millions of dollars that the mayor has allocated months ago to allow us to begin this training. Homeless initiative in the subways – one of the reasons you’re seeing so much above ground is we’ve been very aggressive below ground. Subways are not for sleeping. The subways are not for living. And so there’s been a concerted effort working with homeless advocates groups, working with the city’s Department of Homeless Services, police officers going out with social workers, with workers that can deal with the emotionally disturbed to get them out of the subways and hopefully get them into treatment. So we are trying to do this in as humane a way as possible. Believe me – one of the worst jobs that cops have is dealing with these individuals, because of their behavior, because of their physical mental condition. None of you want to put your hands on some of these individuals, but we expect our officers to do just that. And they do it, and they do it very well, and we’re going to try to give them even more tools to work with as we go forward.
Mayor: Thank you. It’s hot, but I want to add quickly –
Commissioner Bratton: [inaudible] they are wearing bullet proof vests under everything else.
Mayor: You – you have it tough here today, but we’ll try and be quick. Look, a couple things that need to be noted here. Part of this is the ongoing result of the decision to deinstitutionalize a lot of people decades ago without any real supports for people with mental health problems, and people ended up on the streets, and that was a prime example of a bad government policy that we are paying the price for right now. So let’s begin with the beginning – huge numbers of people with a mental health problem, they can’t make ends meet, they don’t know how to subsist in normal life and normal economy. We have to now figure out how to pick up the pieces. Part of that is going to be changing our mental health system profoundly so we can actually reach people, get them the medication they need, get them off substances, get them the mental health treatment they need. That’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of investment, but we’re going to do it – and we’re going to change the model profoundly. It also requires housing, because one of the things we’ve seen – the increase over years in homelessness is because of not just people with mental health problems. In general, the number one reason why we have more homeless is the cost of housing – the fact that the economy changed, the fact that all of the pressures on the cost of housing in the city – gentrification and other pressures – made it impossible even for people in some cases who are working, who don’t have a mental health problem at all, who are good, law-abiding citizens, but literally fell out of the economy – could not afford their home, were evicted. So we’ve got a new reality here. On the mental health side, we’re going to treat it very differently than it’s ever been treated. On the housing side, we have the most ambitious affordable housing plan in the history of this city – and we’re moving it forward, as you heard a few days ago, very aggressively. One key piece of that is supportive housing – housing for folks who are formerly homeless, housing for folks who have some of these particular problems. The state plays a crucial role. And I want to tell you, if you noted, it was in one of the newspapers – it was a very, very small single paragraph story, but a very important one – that a very substantial number of the members of the State Senate and Assembly joined together a few days back to say that the State of New York must recommit itself to supportive housing on a huge scale if we’re going to address this problem. So we have work to do here. And the Speaker – I want to thank the Speaker and the Assembly, because they have been right at the front of this trying to push for the kinds of affordable housing and supportive housing we need. But let’s be clear – it’s very important to report what you’re seeing and what people are feeling, but we also have to report on solutions. New York City is throwing in everything we’ve got to solve the homelessness crisis and to help address the needs of these folks, particularly those with substance abuse and mental health problems. The State of New York has to step up too so we can solve this problem for all of our neighborhoods.
Question: Mayor, can you just explain a little bit what you’re going to do differently with mental health?
Mayor: Again, we’re going to – you’re going to be hearing a lot. If you look at the budget, which was passed a few weeks ago, there’s a number of new initiatives. The first lady is doing a top-to-bottom review of all city agencies that address mental health issues, including police, including corrections, including the Department of Health, the Department of – DOE, of course. And you’re going to see a much more integrated approach and a much more muscular approach, but we’re also going to have some new approaches in terms of homeless folks who have mental health problems.
Question: Can I ask you – this is for you and the commissioner – what’s going on with the search for Tareek Arnold? You had said there were some leads? Are you frustrated that he hasn’t been found?
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, NYPD: Good afternoon. We – we continue to search for Tareek Arnold. We do believe that – we’ve gotten a lot of Crime Stopper tips on him – we do believe that he is in the New York area. We don’t think he has fled. We are close to family members and ex-girlfriends, speaking to them as well. We’re pretty confident we’re going to get him in the next week or two, possibly even sooner.
Question: Are you frustrated that [inaudible] –
Chief Boyce: We’re always frustrated.
It’s part of being a policeman. No, it’s – we will get him – it’s –
We’ll get – I’m very confident we’re going to get him in. He’s – after a while, you look at the resources an individual has when you go hunt for someone, and those are dwindling as we speak.
Question: Mr. Mayor, I wanted to get your thoughts on the settlement struck by the comptroller’s office with the family of Eric Garner. I have a sort-of two-part question – first, just generally, this settlement, do you feel like this is an appropriate amount? And then secondly, just what do you make of the practice of settling a suit before litigation is even [inaudible]?
Mayor: Look, as I said in my statement, the most important thing to say about this is I hope this brings some measure of peace to the Garner family and helps them move forward – that’s the most important thing. I – I don’t have anything to say about the specifics. The comptroller had a right to do it, and the issue has obviously been settled.
Question: [inaudible] general practice of, like, settling it before [inaudible] –
Mayor: Again, it’s the – the charter says that is a role that the comptroller can undertake, and that’s his right.
Karen Hinton: Alright, two more questions.
Question: I was hoping to get some clarity on the – your horse-drawn carriage plan. My colleague obtained a contract – an environmental impact study that the city is undertaking – which suggests that you all are moving away from the plan to replace the horse-drawn carriages with antique cars. Is that the case? Are antique cars still on the table?
Mayor: No, let me – let me just say a couple things. First of all, I believe in the ban and I’m going to keep working for a ban. Second, I think the antique cars, the electric cars, would be a great alternative. Third, as with so many things, we are in constant discussion with the City Council, looking for what makes sense. And when those conversations conclude, we’ll have more to say.
Question: Commissioner Bratton, or maybe Chief O’Neill, I understand that a female police officer was attacked not too far from here and her service revolver was in her bag. If you could comment on the practice or any directives –
Commissioner Bratton: Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce [inaudible]
Chief Boyce: We’ll give you that now. Yes, an officer with ten-and-a-half years on the service, she was going to a day tour, command in Manhattan North. As she was taking the elevator down to the parking garage, when the door opened, she was immediately accosted when she stepped out by an individual wearing a tank top. At this time, he grabbed her chain from her neck and then went for her bag – and she fought him, and they were going back and forth in a tug-of-war type of situation. He then assaulted her two or three times – punched her in the face. Within that bag was her firearm. He reached into the bag and took the firearm and ran. We have very good video. We’re going to put that out today, if it’s not out already of this individual. We believe he’s nearby in this community, and we’ll get him in, but that’s where we stand with that case right now.
Question: [inaudible] advisable to have your firearm in your bag and not on your person?
Chief Boyce: Well, that’s something for remediation after we – after this investigation. [inaudible] patrol response on that – patrol service bureau will look at that. However, that particular building, there’s very little crime there – we don’t usually have any problems where that happened. The super that day, we showed him a video of what we had – he recognized that individual from the area. We’re very confident we’re going to arrest this person sometime today.
Mayor: Thank you, everyone.