June 2, 2016
Video available at: https://youtu.be/mdlxmMCKEfA
First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, NYPD: Good afternoon, and welcome. I'm joined this afternoon by Mayor de Blasio, Chief of Department Jim O'Neill, Chief Carlos Gomez, Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce, and Deputy Commissioner Dermot Shea. As we begin, I want to take a few minutes and just give a brief overview of the topics to be discussed this afternoon before introducing Mayor de Blasio and the rest of my colleagues.
Chief of Department Jim O'Neill is going to provide a briefing on the past Memorial Day weekend – the unofficial start of summer. He'll speak to some of our planned patrol initiatives, going forward. Commissioner Shea will provide a monthly crime picture for May 2016. And since this month is declared – has been declared National Gun Violence Awareness Month, Dermot will focus his presentation on issues relating to the current level of shooting incidents in the City.
As of this moment, New York City finds itself experiencing a significant decline in shooting incidents. Unlike other large cities across the country, New York has seen a decrease in both shootings and homicides for the current year-to-date period. Chief Boyce will detail some of the recent enforcement actions targeting those individuals and, in particular, gang and crew members who are responsible for a significant portion of the City's violent crime. It is also apparent that our efforts to target those drivers of violent crimes through what we call precision policing are paying off.
There are a few other items I want to cover just briefly and highlight today. Yesterday, we officially instituted and updated our use-of-force policy, which we previewed several months ago, and some of you are certainly aware of it. All members of the Department were provided with new forms and associated procedures for the new policies. And, last month, we concluded the first phase of our body-worn camera project – pilot project, during which a group of volunteer officers in our patrol boroughs – commands, and one of our housing bureau commands tested 54 cameras over the period of last year. The 54 cameras have been recalled from the field in order to allow our Office of Information Technology to conduct further tests of the comprehensive video uploading, as well as the data management aspects of the program. So, we'll be moving forward with that, and the testing process if underway.
Last month – later this month, rather, we will be holding a separate press conference – a briefing to highlight the preparations for the Fourth of July celebrations, as well as our Summer All Out program that we've had over the last couple of years. And, lastly, on July 1, our Police Academy will be graduating a recruit class of more than 1,200 new officers. These officers will be hitting the streets throughout the City. They'll be assigned to all 77 precincts, all of our transit districts, as well as our housing PSA's.
So, with that, I'll turn it over to Mayor de Blasio.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. Thank you, Commissioner Tucker. I want to congratulate you and Chief O'Neill, Chief Gomez, Chief Boyce, and Deputy Commissioner Shea, and all the men and women of the NYPD. This is a day where we're going to be able to provide you with some real good news. And this is further testament – I will say it many times – to the hard work of the men and women of the NYPD. They are continuing to set records and continuing to make this city safer. But the leadership here deserves a lot of credit, because, as Commissioner Tucker mentioned, the focus on precision policing is having a huge impact. The focus on gangs and crews, and the increasing number of gang takedowns is having a huge impact. So, there's a lot to be proud of now, today, in the NYPD.
June is National Gun Violence Awareness Month, as Commissioner Tucker mentioned. We're going into June with some real success driving down gun violence, and we expect a lot more. The first five months of this year saw a 22 percent drop in shootings in comparison to the first five months of last year – that's almost 100 fewer shootings in that period – the first five months this year versus last. Now, to put this into perspective, that year-to-year comparison is powerful unto itself, but I want to give you another comparison that really has reminded all New Yorkers of how far we've all traveled, and how much gratitude we owe to the NYPD. I'll take you back in time to the month of May 1993. In May alone – 1993 – there were 471 shootings in New York City – one month in 1993. So far, this year, for the entire year – five full months – there have been 341 shootings city-wide – just real perspective on how far we've come.
The fact is, this is a result of strategy and the use of our officers in an evermore effective manner – the better training, the better technology. It's adding up. You're seeing it, as I mentioned, with the gang takedowns, but you're also seeing it with gun arrests. Gun arrests year-to-date are up 21.8 percent over last year. 1,491 total so far – that's a really impressive increase in gun arrests, and obviously directly connects to a decrease in shootings. Our officers are doing a great job figuring out where the violence is coming from, who are the worst actors in the City – that small number, as Commissioner Bratton has identified, just a few thousand who account for so much of our gun violence. And, more and more, those folks are being stopped.
When it comes to homicides – 13 percent fewer year-to-date – that is, again, major, major progress. And overall index crime for the month of May – down 6.1 percent from the same point last year – that's about 500 fewer robberies, burglaries, murders, and shootings. So, these are amazing examples of sustained progress by the NYPD. We are the safest big city in America. We're improving it regularly, and that is on top of the anti-terror efforts we undertake every single day. And there was recently real success on that front – as you saw, an important arrest in partnership with the JTTF and the FBI. So, our anti-terror efforts are front and center, continue to succeed, and we always make sure they're full bore while we continue all of our efforts against violent crime.
Those are numbers that tell us a lot, but I want to emphasize the human reality. When we talk about fewer homicides, when we talk about fewer shootings, when we talk about more gun arrests, we're taking about changing people's lives, we're talking about people who can feel safer and can be safer. We know we've got a long way to go. The men sitting here with me have served in this Department throughout their lives. They understand one shooting is one shooting too many – one murder is one murder too many. We understand there's still too many people in this city who feel fear. But we know that with each step forward, it lightens that burden, at least a little, for so many New Yorkers. It shows them that progress can be made. And we know in a lot of neighborhoods, the progress is really adding up. When people see a gang that used to terrorize them, and their block, their development, suddenly taken down, nothing is a more powerful indicator of them – of the ability of the NYPD to improve their lives. We've got a lot more of that that we have to do.
Just one more fact I'd like to offer you, and then just a couple of words in Spanish. This comparison to the past, it's not a reason to rest on our laurels, we know that. We intend to go a lot farther, but it tells us so much. So, one more example from 1993, which, of course, was just before the CompStat era began. In 1993, 111,000 cars were stolen in New York City. We all remember those times, for those of us who lived here. 111,000 cars stolen in that year. Last year, 2015, all crimes combined – car theft and every other kind of crime – was 106,000. So, car thefts alone in '93 would have beaten all of our crime categories combined in 2015. That's yet another indicator of the path we've traveled.
A few words in Spanish –
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, it's my honor to turn to Chief O'Neill.
Chief of Department James O'Neill, NYPD: Thank you Mr. Mayor. I'm going to speak briefly just about a few things. We just finished up the Memorial Day Weekend. We had another successful Fleet Week – that's the 28th year actually. It ended up around 1 o'clock Tuesday afternoon when the U.S.S. Bataan pulled out of the New York Harbor. We safely hosted thousands of members of the armed services and their U.S. Navy Marine Corps and Coast Guard ships. There were military fly overs, a parachute jump into Citi Field, search and rescue demonstrations, concerts, street festivals, parades and barbecues, so it was a pretty busy weekend throughout New York City. In terms of crime – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – we saw 18 shootings, two of them fatal. That's compared to 16 shootings last year, four of which were fatal. All told, this Memorial Day weekend, we had four homicides compared to five last year. As you all know, we're constantly looking at our ways to better control our crime. It's not only our goals, it's our obligation to keep people safe and make people feel safe. Bobby Boyce will be talking shortly about our targeted enforcement in our most problematic areas of the city, about problem individuals and groups and we'll be continuing to arrest individuals driving and riding recklessly, and we'll be confiscating more illegal motorcycles and ATVs as necessary. Chief Gomez is heading up that. Our neighborhood based policing initiative, our neighborhood coordination officer program continues to expand throughout the city. We're currently in 25 out of our 77 commands, and we'll be in 32 commands by the end of June. We'll also be doing Summer All Out again this year to address our most problematic areas of the city. We'll have much more on that in a couple of weeks as Commissioner Tucker said.
Mayor: Thank you, we're going to turn to – sorry, camera two – Chief Boyce. I'm sorry, Dermot, my apologies, Dermot Shea. I tried to get around you this time.
Deputy Commissioner Dermot Shea, NYPD: No such luck. Good afternoon, everyone. I'm just going to briefly go over with you the May crime stats. Commissioner Tucker – you heard mention – that June is Gun Awareness Month. Just to be clear, we understand that the importance of bringing awareness to this topic, but, in the NYPD, every month is Gun Awareness Month. And to go a step further – every day is Gun Awareness Day in New York City. It is something that we have been preaching for month on month now, trying to drive down violence associated with firearms.
Whether you are a police officer in the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, Eastern Parkway, or East 95th Street in Brooklyn, or Roosevelt Avenue in Queens – the men and women of New York City have been focused with laser-like precision on trying to drive down crime, drive down shooting violence. Here's some relevant statistics from this May, and I think it's truly a great story that's being written here. Five fewer murders than last May, 47 fewer shooting incidents. Those 47 shooting incidents account for 55 fewer people being shot this May than last May. Index crime overall in New York City was down six percent in May of 2016. It was broad – it was transit crime reduce, housing crime reduced, stabbings and slashings – which has been a topic in the news quite a bit in 2016 – first month in 2016, May, that it actually was down in New York City. So, whether you talk transit, housing, gun violence, or overall crime – huge crime reductions in May of 2016. Moving onto the year-to-date numbers – through the first five months of 2016, we are now down in overall index crime. May pushed us there. We are now down – as the Mayor mentioned – close to 100 – it's 96 fewer shootings incidents this year, year-to-date, through May 31st. It's a reduction of 22 percent. We are down nine shooting incidents on housing properties year to date, that's a reduction of 12 percent. We are down overall in New York City 13 percent or 19 fewer people victims of homicide.
How are we accomplishing this? It's again focus and literally as everyone at this day has said – focus on drivers of crime, recidivism, patterns of perpetrators who are responsible for disproportionate amount. This has lead us to have an increase in gun arrests in 2016 in New York City of nearly 22 percent this year. Overall arrests – down slightly; gun arrests – up 22 percent. Gun arrests on housing property – I mentioned housing shootings – are down. Gun arrests on housing property are up a staggering 67 percent this year. That is a raw number of 102 versus 61. So, small numbers, large percentage, but much focused enforcement on housing.
So, I'd just like to conclude with, before I turn it over to Bob Boyce, there's been a number of articles written. In fact, most recently, I saw one today – it talked about violence in New York City and major cities – violence and specifically homicides on the rise. There was a quote from a noted criminologist in today's paper. And the quote was, "I do not understand New York." Well, let me be perfectly clear – there is no such confusion at this dais. We understand perfectly what is going on in New York. It is a laser-like precision that the men and women in New York Police Department are carrying out every single day. I would now like to turn it over to Bob Boyce, a brief PowerPoint is going to illustrate to you just one of the ways that we are tackling gang-involved crime – I said crime, not just violence, throughout New York City.
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, NYPD: Good afternoon everybody. I just want to go into some of the things we've done this year as far as to reduce the shootings, because it's been enormously successful. So, we'll go into it. Look, we took a look at last year 2015, and we saw gang shootings were driving the numbers in this city. For the first time ever, gang-motivated shootings eclipsed regular disputes. So, what are we going to do about it? We took a look at this organizationally and we said we had these great detectives sitting in the detective squads who are not in the gang fight. So, we had the unified investigative model come in and we started moving those detectives, those great homicide detectives, into gang ops. And that's kind of like we put it under one house, one module, to take a look at these gangs that are driving the numbers. And we've taken down quite a few. The No Law Folk was the number one driver in Brooklyn South, 70 [inaudible] out in the Rockaway Peninsula up in the Bronx. In the Northern Bronx, we had groups – Eastchester Garden Gangsters driving with Big Money Bosses. These were the groups that we prioritized the most problems we had. So, where do we go from this? We started tackling them with every prosecutor the City has involved. The five DA's and two federal prosecutors – everybody has these long-term cases going forward.
Where are we right now? We had 26 at this point for the first five months in 2015 – 26 gang-motivated homicides in the City. So, far this year we have seven. We are down 19 – that's a 73 percent reduction. So, it's working. In the month of May, we had seven last year. In May alone, we had one this year. Not done yet, but we are getting very close to where we want to be. Non-fatal shootings – perhaps it's the most troublesome thing we had because gang-members don't talk to us when they're shot, but we still go forward with the investigations. So, we had 125 at this point last year in the first five months. So far this year, 61 – a total number down 64, which is a 51 percent reduction. For the month of May, we targeted 17 total gang takedowns. I don't need to explain the takedown. This is a long-term investigation, about a year in length. Evidence is compiled through all the prosecutors that I mentioned and it's brought forth before a grand jury. They are pre-indicted before we make these arrests. So when we go out to arrest them, the evidence has already been presented and we go forward with that. So 144 persons were arrested on 17 gang takedowns for the month of May. You recall the big takedown at the end of April last year? That was 120 gang members for the month of April—209 gang members arrested, gang and narcotics traffickers I should say – arrested citywide. So, from the second week in April to now, 353 persons arrested in these take downs. We've done very well with it. As I've said the gang takedowns are long-term, we have more coming. I'd say where we are going in June, we have 21 takedowns targeted for June as well. We are not done. The same principle, bringing these great detectives into the fore and having them work these gang cases. They will all be pre-indicted before we go out and take them.
Can we bring a couple of cases up? Can we have the first video up please?
We've got a homicide in the 6-7 Precinct, on May 31st – about 6 o'clock in the evening. A young lady – a 16-year-old girl shot to death inside of her apartment at 1406 Brooklyn Avenue in Flatbush Gardens. This male, right here – he is the shooter. See? With the backpack. He gets onto the elevator and takes it directly to the floor she is on. We edited this, it's pretty graphic so I don't want to show too much here. At this point he is [inaudible] his firearm. That is a very dangerous weapon – that's a .40 caliber Kel-Tec sub machine gun. That person is identified through detectives in the 6-7 squad and the Brooklyn South Homicide as Tareek Stevens. He's a 24-year-old male. He lives nearby on Brooklyn Avenue. He's got six priors, four of which are sealed. We are seeking him now. There is gun that we believe did the – as you can see, he pulls out the stock on the gun before he shoots this young lady. He [inaudible] three times, so we get three full rounds outside in the hallway. He shoots one time – that goes through her arm and into her body that causes her demise later on at the hospital. We are seeking him now. We're asking the public, if you see him, immediately call 9-1-1. If you have any information – to call the tips number, and we'll go forward.
Get the next one, [inaudible]? This individual – there was a homicide in the 7-7 Precinct at 1363 St. John's Place. There was a barbecue. There was an ensuing dispute at about 1:40 in the morning. An individual named Sam [inaudible] was shot to death. He's a 46-year-old male. This is a dispute. We don't know the origin yet. We believe it's over something about a pair of Air Jordan sneakers. Don't know what happened with it – that's all we're getting from CI's in the area. But we have a named perp here – Donald Proudfoot. He's got seven priors. He lives on the block. We're seeking him now. We're seeking the public's information as to his whereabouts.
Next slide, please. This individual – these two individuals are wanted in a homicide, which happened 4-8 Precinct. As you can see, these two individual [inaudible] we believe they're Blood gang members. They shoot an individual – Brandon Rivera. Brandon Rivera is a 19-year-old male. He is another male walking down Katonah Avenue when he's shot in the chest, and later dies at the hospital. He, right now – if you remember him, he is – his brother was murdered by [inaudible] who's now in jail – if you follow crime in the Bronx. We don't believe they're connected right now. We believe this is Blood-Crip that's going on, on Katonah Avenue. Two very dangerous persons we're looking for.
Next slide, please. 4-7 Precinct on May 27th, at about 5:40 in the morning – we have an individual who's shot – two people are shot in their car by these individuals right here. We have a Lionel Samuel, a 55-year-old male – he's shot to death. This is a narco-related dispute. These individuals have been identified and we have probable cause to arrest them. The male on the left is Jonathan [inaudible] – his nickname is Platinum. He is a 32-year-old male. And this person on the right is Sheldon Edmund – aka, Slim. He is a 34-year-old male. They are – we have probable cause to arrest and we're seeking them now.
Next slide, please. That's it? Okay. I'll take your questions if that's fine with you.
Unknown: We can take police-topic questions to begin with, and then we can segue into questions for the Mayor. There'll be no break, but just let's address police first.
Question: [Inaudible] Staten Island robbery of the priest. Do you have any information regarding that?
Chief Boyce: I do. At about 5 o'clock this morning, we have in the 1-2-0, a priest from St. Mary's of Assumption parish who was walking to his car on Castletown Avenue. He was not dressed in any kind of garb – regular clothing. He was robbed by two males – male-black with a white shirt, and another with a plaid shirt and a hat. His car was taken with his keys. We recovered his car a few blocks away. We're going forward with the case now.
Question: There have been a number of robberies at knife-point on Long Island, and some in Queens [inaudible]. What is leading to [inaudible]?
Chief Boyce: Sure. We have a citywide pattern of [inaudible] right now. They're all in Southern Queens. There are 17 cases ascribed to Nassau and Suffolk County, most of which being in Nassau County. This individual is a knife-point [inaudible] – pretty rare. When we look at the video, it's pretty much the same individual. Do we have pictures of this, Jim? No? Okay, we'll put it out today. He covers up with hoodies and masks, and walks in and does fast food restaurants – Dunkin Donuts, 7-11, Subway, Carvels off a highway. That's his main thing – he comes off a highway, does basically the first fast food restaurant that he sees. He's a male – Black, stocky build. We have a very good picture of him out. We're working with Nassau County. I've spoken with their Chief of Detectives personally quite a few times actually on this case. He hit last night in the 1-1-1 Precinct on Northern Boulevard. Right around closing time – it's a Subway sandwich location. He walks in and produces what looks like a large butcher knife – kitchen – butcher's knife that he uses on each one. Puts it back into his pant leg when he leaves. He walks several blocks off so we can't get the car he comes in. We believe he is driving a car. He gets back on the parkway and he's gone. So, right now, I have 21 cases – four in the City, 17 out of Nassau and Suffolk – mostly in Nassau. We have a big – very large deployment of plainclothes and uniformed officers at these locations – at these access points onto the expressways, going forward. So, that's where we are with that. All the – we've checked parolees, everything we can find as far as M-O's on this, and we're still working it. So, we just got this in about mid-May. He ended in Nassau County. It's almost like he's moving towards the City. So, we have four in the 1-0-6, 1-1-1, 1-0-9 Precincts, and that's where are right now with this case. Public help – we would appreciate. Again, we have a really good picture. We do extended video canvasses and he takes off his mask at that point.
Question: Can you tells us more about that video and the suspect in the shooting of the 16-year-old – how they know each other, or if they know each other, or any information you have?
Chief Boyce: We did his – we looked at the texting on her. It was reported that it was a romantic relationship. She names him Tyreek. She does not say it's a boyfriend. From what we could read of the texting, it is not a romantic relationship at all. So, there's a lot more to go on this case – a lot to figure out. We do have them ID'ed, so we think it's a dangerous guy, especially with that weapon, and we're concerned about it. However, he does get in there. He does know her – we think about two weeks prior.
Question: And separately, on the 13th Precinct incident, you know [inaudible]. Can you tell us more about that? [Inaudible]
Chief Boyce: I do have some more to put out – the homicide of Ronald McPhatter at the – Irving Plaza during a concert there. We recovered three guns in a 2003 Chevrolet passenger van with a Virginia plate that was owned and registered by Roland Collins – aka, Troy Ave. In that car, there is a trap. Now, a trap is a purposely contracted hiding location within a car – this one under the console in the vehicle. We have a search warrant. We did a search of the car. We came up with three guns. The first one a 9mm pistol. It was defaced, so we cannot trace it back right now. It is loaded with a 10-capacity round, and that's where we are with that gun. We haven't traced it to any other crimes at the time. Second gun is stolen – a revolver [inaudible] .38 fully loaded with five hollow points in the gun. Again, it was stolen from somewhere down south. We're investigating that right now. And the last gun is a Kel-Tec 9mm. This is the homicide weapon that killed Mr. McPhatter. We still believe at this point there was one gun used during the entire operation that killed four people – I'm sorry, shot four people, killing one. We still – we have no other evidence that there's any gun used. And those other weapons – we don't believe were involved. So, we're going forth with that. There's a lot more to go on this. He's charged up [inaudible] and we'll continue our investigation. We get a lot of open-source [inaudible] a lot of information that way. We've identified a lot of people we're still talking to. So, the case is underway.
Question: [Inaudible] one shooter?
Chief Boyce: Difficult to say at this time. DNA has been – swabs have been taken of the gun. We'll see who else. More than likely a mixed bag, but we'll find out.
Question: Chief, is it clear yet in that case what the fight was about?
Chief Boyce: Again, it's not clear. We're getting a lot of information from not only social media, but from others calling in tip lines, telling us basically the same information. So, I don't want to go into it because it's not firmed up yet. I think it's been reported – of his disputes that this male had, Roland Collins, but we'll go forward with that – you know, firming that up right now. It is not – we believe there was a rapper named [inaudible]. We do not believe that he was involved in the dispute. It was his girlfriend who was shot. We at that point – everybody went back to the hospital. The uniformed deployed to ensure everybody – there would not be a fight or an argument at the hospital. That's why she was guarded at the time.
Question: Can you give us an update over here, Chief, on the situation in the Bronx with Mr. Mamadou Diallo, who said he was defending his wife. A lot of people are calling him a hero, but [inaudible]. Can you give us an update on that?
Chief Boyce: Dean, I have video evidence of him striking this individual with a tire iron inside the elevator directly after the assault. We find his wife to be very believable – gave a very good story. We believe that [inaudible] this individual did try to rape her and walk into the apartment – [inaudible] apartment, push her, and assault her. All that is true. However, we do see this individual take a tire iron and hit him over the head several times in the elevator. I have that on video. So, that was presented – that will go before a grand jury, and we'll go forward that way.
Question: Is there any clarity? Because I guess there's some confusion as if he says he's protecting his wife – this guy's still in the hallway – does an individual have the right to –
Chief Boyce: That's for a grand jury to decide – not for the Police Department to decide. We'll go forward with the grand jury on that.
Chief Boyce: It is. Yes. This is before the autopsy came in. So we got him that night, we see what happened, he's charged, and now [inaudible] the autopsy comes in, [inaudible] as well as this individual. That, again, will be presented to the grand jury. I spoke with Judge Clark [inaudible] the Bronx DA.
Question: Chief, we've received information that Earl Nash may have been involved in at least three incidents for prospective trespassing over the past weekend. One of which was in Brooklyn, and two others in Queens. Can you confirm that?
Chief Boyce: I don't want to do that right now. Mr. Nash has a long arrest record, and I'll leave it at that. And we'll, as part of the investigation, will be presented to the grand jury, so I don't want to go too much far into that.
Question: Can you tell us at least the last time he was arrested?
Chief Boyce: I have, but I don't have that with me. He has been arrested several times as you know. I'd have to look at it – I think he got out of jail recently. I'll check my records and see. I think he got out sometime, maybe a month ago.
Question: What's your message to New Yorkers like if this happens in an instance – a wife calls their husband and says I'm being attacked, what should a New Yorker do?
Chief Boyce: I think to call 9-1-1 immediately. We're not faulting this individual with responding to his wife, of course not. Of course, call 9-1-1, we have a great Police Department in this city and great detectives, and I think you've seen that as far as the reduction in crime right now. We have an individual like this who commits a heinous crime, there's no question, call 9-1-1, and let us do our job.
Question: About the gang confirmation in the investigation [inaudible] and that social media has been a key part of that. I know Apple wasn't very cooperative with the phones. Has Facebook been more helpful in getting your detectives what they need in [inaudible]?
Chief Boyce: That is just one component of part of our investigative strategy. We collect a lot of – gang members love to self-identify, and we like them doing it too, by the way, because you'll see guns, you'll see all kinds of gang member memorabilia, you see graffiti up constantly. Now does everyone who does that gang sign mean they're a gang member? No, there's other information and evidence that has to be put forth. That's why we go for a grand jury, and that's why we act upon their decision. So we're not just calling people gang members because someone flips a gang sign.
Question: But does the company allow – I know, like Facebook rules you're not allowed to use any kind of fake alias, but obviously you're undercover –
Chief Boyce: I'm not so sure about that, but –
Chief Boyce: We see time and time again we see aliases all over Facebook – which is not illegal by the way.
Question: But did they grant special access for private – you know, I would imagine at this point a lot of gang and crew members would turn their stuff private and know that they are, you know, being watched.
Chief Boyce: Admittance to Facebook sites has changed dramatically, I'll put it that way. It's not the same as it was when it first started.
Question: Things changed in terms of gun [inaudible] in the Irving Plaza incident, are you getting any level of cooperation from the rapper community or those who were on the scene or performing [inaudible]?
Chief Boyce: You know what, this is – I keep information coming to me confidential, so I don't want to comment on what the hip hop community has done. We are getting – making some headway. Ronald McPhatter's mother was obviously distressed with us. His brother was as well. We're making [inaudible] to get them – to get more information from them. Any time someone is murdered, that family has more information that is vital to our cases at any point, so we'll go forward with that as I think there's a righteous outcry about this man's death. I don't want to go in too deep.
Question: Chief, there was a report today that distinctions are being made between slashings and stabbings. Are they going to be counted differently or have they been or are they in one category?
Commissioner Shea: You're referring to a [inaudible] message that went out I believe earlier this week defining for the first time. If you remember earlier this year Police Commissioner Bratton at a – I believe – Operation Cutting Edge press conference outlined the detailed plan involving somewhat enforcement. Another component of that enforcement strategy was an analytical component, quite frankly, and trying to learn more about the slashing or stabbing incidents that are occurring in New York City. Who's the victim of them? Where are they occurring? What time of day? Who's committing them? So there was never a definition which was frankly hurting us. For example, we would read reports where a dispute ensued and a garbage can was thrown at somebody and hit off their head, and that was being checked off under a box at the time that existed – which was another issue that was hurting us – that said cut, slashed or stabbed. So we made some modifications to our intake mechanism, we cleared the lines if you will. It now says cut on a separate box and slashed or stabbed, and we defined it for the first time. So that's the back story to the slashing and stabbing. As I said, maybe it's the first month, so we're cautiously optimistic that we will see some good, significant improvement in that category, but if you asked me how many slashing or stabbing incidents five years ago, I couldn't tell you because it's never been tracked to any degree like it is being done now. I will say these changes have absolutely no effect or impact on crime numbers. If I hit somebody with a garbage can, or I stab somebody with a knife, they're both considered assault two's – felony assaults reported to the FBI. This is just an effort to really drill down, and again, when we talk about focus – laser – if we don't have the basic information it really hampers us down the road.
Unknown: Taking the last police question, and then we're moving on please. Okay, last couple. David.
Question: Chief O'Neill and then a question for the Mayor. How has the corruption probe into the Police Department affected morale in the department among high ranking officials and also among, you know, police officers at the patrol level? And for the Mayor, do you think your Police Commissioner should move to prevent the retirement of some of these high ranking officials to send a message to patrol officers that, you know, corruption at any level is not going to be tolerated?
Mayor: Let me just do it, since I had the second one I'll just do it.
No, I think it's perfectly appropriate the way things are being handled. There's been a vigorous investigation that obviously yielded some real problems. Those individuals are already feeling the consequences, and I wouldn't be surprised if they feel a lot more, but they have a right – if they choose to retire – they have a right to do so. I don't think that in anyway undermines our disciplinary efforts.
Chief O'Neill: David, I just – anytime that the NYPD is put in a negative light, of course it's going to have an effect on the men and women of this police department because of the great work that they do every day. Does it have an impact on morale? I'm sure it does, but as with anything in the NYPD we'll move through it and continue to do our job.
Mayor: I would just add on that – the results speak for themselves. Of course people are going to be disappointed if they see their colleagues do the wrong thing, but when you look at what has happened in the month of May, the NYPD is achieving extraordinary things, so it sure as hell is not stopping our men and women from going out there and making those gun arrests, from preventing crime in an unprecedented manner. I think that's the important point – they're producing for the people of this city.
Question: Commissioner Tucker maybe you can also [inaudible] this? The family of Ramarley Graham marched today from the Bronx all the way down. What's the status of the Department's disciplinary proceedings against the officer [inaudible]?
First Deputy Commissioner Tucker: The process is still underway. We're taking a look at it. There may be a department trial, but we'll make some decisions as the internal apparatus moves forward, but that's where we are.
Question: Could you be a little more specific about – when you talk about the internal apparatus, where exactly are things [inaudible] internal investigation?
First Deputy Commissioner Tucker: Right now, the officer is modified and until the process takes the next step it's with our Department Advocate and we – depending on decisions that are made going forward – it may lead to a department trial, as I said, which the officer has a right to and of course, we would wait for the decision coming out of that trial.
Mayor: But I want to emphasize, there will – just very quickly – there will be a full process here. We all understand that we have deferred previously to the Department of Justice but once that Department of Justice process is over, NYPD process occurs. There will absolutely be an outcome. We're not going to pre-judge the outcome. As the Commissioner said, it could involve a trial – that's its own, separate reality – but there will be an outcome. This will be attended to.
Unknown: Wrap up please, we need to move on.
Question: Does [inaudible] regarding murder rate, what is the New York City doing differently from other big cities where cops [inaudible]?
Mayor: I'll start and then the experts can weigh in. I mean look, I think it is precision policing, they have a heavy focus on gang take-downs, heavy focus on gun seizures and improved training and technology. I – I think it's that we have combined a lot of strategies simultaneously that have had a real impact. I obviously believe that this is an extraordinary department to begin with and we are blessed with particularly good leadership right now in this department. But it is the way that they have combined a series of actions to really change things for the better. All of those investments in technology, in training, the – the taking the precision in policing strategy and being able to apply it evermore effectively. Remember, every time you get a bad guy off the streets, that's one less problem to address and you limit the pool further. So, it's amazing and I say very comfortably, I think there's going to be more progress. Both because there's additional investments on the way – obviously by the end of the year, 2000 more officers – but also because of the neighborhood policing program, which has already shown real results but that one – that's truly citywide, I think that's going to be a major factor in reducing crime. So, a lot of innovation that's paying off.
Unknown: I'm going to ask you to please stay in place and then we can move on to questions for the Mayor.
Mayor: We'll take off-topic. Yes sir.
Question: Mr. Mayor, I'm wondering, would anybody who identifies as female be permitted at the Bedford Avenue Public Pool on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays? If they identify as –
Mayor: We know that issue's being looked at by the Human Rights Commission and the Parks Department. So, we're reviewing that –
Question: [inaudible] answer –
Mayor: Again, we're reviewing that right now.
Question: But if you're somebody who's going to that pool on –
Mayor: I just said we're reviewing that right now. Jen?
Question: [Inaudible] story about a memo that your office has done about appointments. I have a question – I'm just wondering what role a person's donations played in appointments? Why were [inaudible] when they had [inaudible] with the City? And how is it not a conflict of interest for Emma to be approving appointments when she's dealing with [inaudible]?
Mayor: Everything was done appropriately. I have no question about that – everything was done appropriately. We're talking about people – hundreds of people who got appointments who are respected people, who are people who have done a lot for this city, and are contributing to the City's wellbeing. So, I think the process was handled appropriately.
Question: Can I ask you why were their donations counted? Why [inaudible]?
Mayor: Well, that shouldn't have been there. It's quite obvious that was not the right way to handle things.
Question: Do you have any evidence to back up your kind of situation [inaudible] the Governor's office had something to do with [inaudible]?
Mayor: The facts as we know them say a lot. You're talking about the Board of Elections report?
Mayor: It was leaked to a particular reporter. I think everyone in this room is a mature adult. I don't think I need to fill in those blanks too much more. Now, apparently we have further information – that reporter had full knowledge of the existence of the report. The report was created by someone who had a particular employment history. And the report, although looking at a period of time where many, many people and institutions were involved in those elections, surprisingly only focused on one person. So, I think it's quite clear there's a lot of questions here.
Question: Do you think the Board of Elections [inaudible] the Governor are responsible for the subpoenas that your office and others got because of this?
Mayor: As I've said, I leave it to all of you to follow the facts and come to conclusions. I know we have done things – excuse me, I know we've done things appropriately. I know we've held ourselves at a very high standard. I know we did everything legally. But that combination of factors I just mentioned raises a lot of questions for me. And I've said, when it comes to the situation with the State, I think there's a pretty clear double standard.
Question: Mr. Mayor, the Governor, yesterday, demanded that you apologize for saying that his office was responsible. And he also said – and this is his quote – "...the U.S. Attorney, the Manhattan DA, and the Attorney General believed there were significant questions of following the law and legal compliance when it comes to the Mayor's fundraising." How do you feel about these characterizations of what's been going on? And do you think you owe anybody an apology, including Risa Sugarman?
Mayor: No. And look, I've said we are cooperating fully with the District Attorney, with the U.S. Attorney. We respect them. It's been a very communicative process. We said from the beginning, we want to help in any way we can and work to conclude these issues as quickly as possible. That's why we differentiate that from the questions that have been raised about the State process, which, I think, is where we see a very clear double standard.
Question: How do you feel about the Governor basically impugning your integrity yesterday?
Mayor: It doesn't surprise me.
Question: Mr. Mayor, I'm just wondering, which of your committees or nonprofit is paying the legal fee for the investigations of the campaign fundraising and the 2014 Senate campaign? Where is the money coming from?
Mayor: Everything is being determined by lawyers as to what's the appropriate way to pay for each situation. So, for example, if something involved a reelection campaign – or, I should say the 2013 campaign more appropriately – something involved with the 2013 campaign, those legal fees can be paid by that campaign. But it depends on the situation – that's all determined by lawyers.
Question: Mr. Mayor, your campaign is returning some donations from some donors who looked kind of suspicious, or were possible straw donors. Are you aware of any sort of straw donors going on in [inaudible] campaign and why were those donations returned?
Mayor: Because it was flagged to us. We have a very intense – it was flagged to us, we'll get you the details, but – we have a very intense vetting process, and we consistently, if we don't think something looks right – we will turn back donations all the time. But then there are other times when we don't have a reason to suspect a donation – excuse me – and if something's brought to our attention, then we'll make a decision. So, we looked at those further, and we decided we thought it better to give them back.
Question: Mr. Mayor, Governor Cuomo's office has been repeatedly emphasizing the fact that the person who leaked this report was a Republican. Why do you hold Governor Cuomo more responsible, or, potentially, equally responsible, than the Republican who – either the Republicans clearly had plenty to lose from a situation where you were trying to unseat them –
Mayor: The lines between Democrats and Republicans often blur in Albany. But more to the point, what I just said previously, there is a pattern here. Why did a certain reporter know of this confidential memo? Rather a crucial sacred concept – that, that was supposed to be kept confidential as a matter of law enforcement. Why did a reporter know about it? Why did it makes its way to that reporter? Why was it written by a particular person with a particular history and, therefore, fair to assume a potential bias? Why did it only identify one player in a situation where there were many? You know, I think there's a lot of good questions there to follow up on.
Question: Mr. Mayor, [inaudible] Governor Cuomo also believes that you should apologize to that individual.
Mayor: I just spoke to that. That's not going to happen.
Question: Mr. Mayor, there is a package of homelessness initiatives that the Governor announced today, including these shelter beds, but there's also the results of inspections of shelters statewide, and, now, all these shelters are going to be subject to State regulation and, in some cases, if violations aren't cured within a certain number of days, they could be taken over. I'm just wondering what your response is to that?
Mayor: I have not seen the details yet – obviously just came out. If there are new resources for Safe Haven beds or shelter beds, that's a very good thing and I will commend the Governor for that. I think it's very important that we address the other resource questions that are outstanding. Where are we going on supportive housing [inaudible] the City's committed 15,000 apartments? Where's the State going? We'd like to see that plan. The $200 million-plus that is still owed to the City from the previous year's budget to address homelessness so we can get people out of shelter; the increase in the rental level so we can help people not go into shelter to begin with – that's something that State has to act on. [Inaudible] the question of the ability to serve more people who are victims of domestic violence is where we need the State's help to do that. So, all those issues – outstanding. I'm going to remain optimistic that they will be addressed in this legislative session, but I'm very happy to see some progress on resources. Now, we – as you've seen, Commissioner Banks has already started acting against particular shelter providers that we found to be substandard. So, we're going to use all the power of the City when we think a shelter operator can't or won't do their job to move them out. We welcome the State's partnership in that. So I think there's a lot of good that could come of this. We've been doing the inspections. We've encouraged a more unified process there. I hope this could be an opening to that. Important point is we all want to resolve housing standard issues and fix violations. We all want to do it. If we're moving – in the case of any shelter – we have to make sure there's a plan B that will actually work, and that's something we need to know more about how the State will –
Question: Do you oppose the State coming in and actually posing some kind of temporary operator on a shelter?
Mayor: Look, there's a state law that gives them that right. What we're saying is one, let's work together. We've said from the beginning, let's do the inspections together, let's work on the plan to fix the violations together. We've – you know – I want to give credit to DHS and HPD that they've had a huge number of inspections, and they've settled a huge numbers – thousands and thousands – of open violations, and really improved the equality of housing in a lot of those shelters. We could do so much more though as an actual partnership with the State, so that's what I hope will come out of this is a real working partnership to address these issues.
Question: The past several weeks have been a lot with all of the investigations on top of your day job which is obviously very stressful. How difficult would you say this has been for you – all of the investigations – and has your family asked about it, and what do you say to them to explain it?
Mayor: My family is very focused, rightfully, on the things that everyone should be focused on in their day to day life. My son just finished his first year in college. My daughter is about to graduate, which is going to be an incredible moment. Chirlane is doing her work. We're all very comfortable with the state of things because we know we've done things the right way. As I've said to you, when all the facts come out I'm confident that it will confirm that things were done the right way, and in the meantime what I focus on is what you call the day job. I focus on what we talked about here, how we're going to keep lowering crime, how we're going to create more affordable housing, what we're doing to improve our schools, that's what the focus is. So, the truth is a very comforting thing, and we're comfortable with the truth.
Question: Mayor, do you have any reaction to Success Academy cancelling pre-K, and do you have any specific reaction to their statement that the City is demanding sweeping and illegal powers to control nearly every aspect of the program's design despite their track record of achievement and their accountability to the State University of New York?
Mayor: I think they need to figure out when to give it a rest. They asked to not sign a contract that every other charter organization signed, every religious school across multiple faiths signed. They're the only entity that had problems with that contract. They appealed to the State Department of Education. State Department of Education told them they were wrong, and that they should sign the contract. If they don't want to sign the contract, there are plenty of other great providers who will provide pre-K seats. So I don't know how they have a leg to stand on when every other charter organization has been willing to do that which we asked of them, and we're comfortable – there's plenty of good charter schools, plenty of good religious schools, plenty of good community organizations, there will be plenty of people to work with.
Question: Do you sense a political motivation here?
Mayor: I won't comment but to say it wouldn't surprise me.
Unknown: Two more questions.
Question: Mr. Mayor, going back to the earlier announcement about crime numbers. I'm wondering how you reconcile these very strong numbers in the drops in shootings and murders with the poll numbers that show that New Yorkers largely disapprove of your handling of crime? I'm wondering how you reconcile those two things?
Mayor: I don't get caught up in polls. I think the more progress we make, the more people will feel it. Again, until people feel fully secure – I understand there's always going to be worry, but these achievements speak for themselves. This is real fundamental change, and a lot more coming. I believe people will recognize that. They will feel it their lives more and more, and they'll recognize it.
Question: Where do you think that perception comes from then?
Mayor: I don't waste a lot of time trying to analyze that. I've seen polls go up and down. If I lived by polls, I wouldn't be sitting here. A lot of you witnessed the events of 2013. I spent a lot of that year in the strong position of 4th and 5th place, and here I am. What matters is getting results for people, and I think the public is very smart. I've said this along many, many rooms I've been in with political people over the years. I've said do not underestimate the public. They are very smart at discerning the truth. They get a lot of information from a lot of sources. I'm very comfortable that what we are going to show them by next fall is going to be compelling to them.
Question: I just want to ask you a question about furniture. What is the reasoning behind conducting these press conferences behind the blue desk? It sort of made an appearance last month, and it seems to be – it's the first time I've ever seen it in 1 PP.
Mayor: I'm going to blame Dermot Shea for this. I told him. Dermot did I not tell you in advance that I was going to throw you under the bus? There's a running joke as we prepare for these, about Dermot Shea's presentations. Now you noticed they've gotten substantially more compact, shall we say?
Mayor: I think some of you were here for the 40 minute rendition of one month one time. Dermot was fascinated by those statistics.
Shea: I could keep going!
Mayor: He could. So these are long, long proceedings, it just makes more sense to sit down. We'll do one or two more.
Question: Do you believe at this junction that the Governor deserves a third term in office, and would you vote for him again?
Mayor: I find fascinating questions that are not one but two election cycles ahead. Right now, we're trying to elect Hillary Clinton President of the United States. I'm focused on 2016. Bob, the last word.
Question: To what degree at a press conference like this, such a significant announcement, we've got Zika in New Jersey. To what degree does the [inaudible] Punch and Judy show between you and the Governor undermine public confidence in the ability of the City and State of New York to govern itself with the leaders working together?
Mayor: I think the public looks at this differently. I really do – to the same point I made previously. The public cares about results. When it comes to Zika, a very important issue, the City of New York I think has been quite visible, has a very aggressive plan, a lot of resources we put into it. We are aggressively screening. We have a very aggressive program in place in the event we find anything changed with Zika that we can address. So far, thank god, we do not see mosquitos here spreading Zika, but we're doing a lot to try and reach people who travel to places where Zika exists.
I think – and I, look – I talk to New Yorkers every day. Everyone in public service talks to them. I do townhall meetings and I take radio call-ins, and my administration is talking to people all the time. I have not heard any lack of confidence in our Zika preparation, and we work the State all the time on things like this.
Question: I meant governing though in general that if so much of the energy and news coverage is consumed by new male individuals talking about their personalities–
Mayor: Look, I'm not going to let that sexist comment go.
Mayor: The – again, I think it's very interesting to you guys. I think it's very interesting to people in the political class. I think it's thoroughly uninteresting to everyday New Yorkers who want to know are we driving down crime? Are we improving schools? Are we helping them get affordable housing? That's what they care about. And they want to see results. Right now, if you go from a results point of view – the City of New York economy is strong and getting stronger, crime going down. These are all the basics that people care about the most. They just don't care if a politician agrees of disagrees with another politician. They want to see that things are being taken care of. I'm proud to say largely due to the incredible efforts of the NYPD and so many other agencies a lot of good things are happening in New York City right now.