August 1, 2017
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Ava, that was amazing. I want to praise her, but she has to turn this way, after she gets to her seat.
Ava, amazing job. Thank you for everything you said. You're extraordinarily poised for someone who's about to enter 8th grade, and I really liked what you said here. And I liked what you said in the circle when we were together earlier because it's very powerful what you're talking about – creating some place that people feel safe, where they communicate with each other, respect each other, and if there's a problem, there's somewhere to go to deal with it positively rather than turn it into conflict. So I really want to thank you because the only way that happens is if students act as leaders and model the right behavior to each other.
So let's thank Ava for all she is doing.
I'm very impressed and very proud of M.S. 88 for the extraordinary work happening here in terms of restorative justice. This is one of the schools that's the taking the idea of restorative justice and bringing it to life and creating a much better school climate, a much better school community. M.S. 88 is a school that I've worked with for many years, going back to when I was on the local school board. In this community, and Carmen will confirm this, for some reason here in this community folks who have been here a long time call it 88s – plural. Felix knows this, too. So that's part of the local folklore. We're not entirely sure why. It's a school that it quintessentially Brooklyn, and there are a lot of families – I've met a lot of families that two, three generations have gone here, and they feel a deep connection to this school. But at the same time as Ava says, the school is growing. It is changing. It's finding new ways to help kids succeed, and this approach is one of the things that's really making a difference in young people's lives.
So this is part of a bigger change, and it has to do with everyone. With what the Department of Education is doing, with what the NYPD is doing, what principals and teachers are doing, and very importantly what our students are doing to take responsibility for creating a better environment for each other. All these efforts have been deepening over the last few years – all in the name of safety, and all in the name of a better climate in which our children can learn, and now here is the fact that is so important. As a result of these efforts – the school year just ended – the 2016-2017 school year was the safest on record in the history of New York City. Everyone should be proud of that.
I want to thank everyone here at M.S. 88 – the principal, Ailene Altman Mitchell, thank you for your great efforts running this school. I want to also thank folks who do so much all over this city to protect the safety of our young people – Mark Rampersant, the deputy CEO for safety and security at DOE; Brian Conroy, of course, assistant chief NYPD for the school safety division; Chief of Department Carlos Gomez and Chief of Patrol Terry Monahan who also care deeply about the coordination between NYPD and DOE. Everyone has done an outstanding job creating a new reality.
And this is essential to our Equity and Excellence vision. Let's state the obvious truth – you can't learn if you're not in a safe environment.
You know it wasn't so long ago that my kids were middle school age, and I heard every day the stories of what they went through in school. And you know if kids are comfortable, they feel safe, they're going to be able to be their best selves. They're going to be able to learn. And when they feel uncomfortable, or – God forbid – they're dealing with challenges around them, it's not the kind of situation where we're going to help them achieve their potential. So we believe in safety as a fundamental mission of all of us in public service, but we also know it undergirds our abilities to teach our children. And that's why we've seen the DOE and NYPD growing closer in their efforts. There's a greater shared philosophy and shared efforts to make our school safer; more and more of the kind of coordination that was yearned for for a long time, and it's finally happening now.
Now, we know for a long time in this city – for many decades – our parents sent kids off to school honestly not knowing if they would be safe enough. That was a cold, painful reality in this city for a long time, and I've got to tell you the last five years we've seen a big turnaround. I want to give credit to the previous administration for starting the ball rolling, and then we've seen more and more progress in the last few years. So this school year just finished compared to the last one – major crimes in school down more than five percent, and compared to the first full school year that we were all here together, crime in school down 18 percent. So, over the last three years – down 18 percent.
The number – and this is an amazing statistic and really speaks volumes to the change. Everyone who's reported on this city for a long time in this room knows there used to be a time when you assumed, unfortunately, dozens even hundreds of our schools were more dangerous than they should be. Well, according to the State of New York now the number of persistently dangerous schools in New York City has dropped to only two – two in the entire school system. That is the lowest we've ever been – something that everyone should be proud of.
The number just as recently as the 2015-2016 school year had been 27, and before this last year the lowest it had ever been was 10. So this is a whole new reality of a kind of safety we've never seen before. We also believe like we've seen in the whole city – and Commissioner O'Neill's going to speak in a moment – and it absolutely parallels the extraordinary work the NYPD has done overall. What have we told you all year? NYPD is driving down crime with fewer arrests. Well, we see the same thing in our schools. Crime is going down, and arrests are going down simultaneously.
School-related arrests are down eight percent from the previous year. Summonses went down 11 percent; suspensions have been declining. We see a pattern because it's a strategy to change the way we communicate with young people – to figure out how to stop problems before they begin. Like you saw in that restorative justice circle, a lot of that is preventative – helping young people to settle problems before they began.
You saw that role play – someone thought the other person tripped them. Every one of us has been through that situation when we were in school, something like that. Someone thought the other person tripped them. Well, that might be talked out, and then everyone goes their separate ways. Or it could turn into a fight, could turn into someone being seriously injured. Here, these young people are being taught how to stop the problem before it even begins, and that works. Also we're finding that warnings and efforts to work with young people to change their behavior have a very powerful impact, and you don't need to go straight to arrests or straight to summonses. And this parallels things that Commissioner O'Neill has said for a long time, and before him Commissioner Bratton about – again – the approach to crime overall. I remember vividly one of the first times at one of these gatherings Commissioner Bratton said 'you know, arrests is not the goal.' It's a tool like a summons can be a tool, like a warning can be a tool, and officers use the best tool for each occasion. That's happening in our school system as well.
Now, what did we know before? We knew there was too much crime, too much conflict that went unaddressed, too many kids felt they were in danger, too many parents felt they were sending their young people off to unsafe schools, and at the same time we had a disciplinary model that was overly punitive and backfired. This is a fact because we see it now as we try the alternative. We see how the alternative is working. It used to be that too many times the first resort, not the last resort, was suspension, and that often made kids – bluntly – even worse in their behavior. Kids who got the impression from the actions being taken by adults that the young person didn't have any value, didn't have any future, didn't have any possibilities. Well, we're trying to emphasize now in all we do every child has tremendous possibility. Sometimes they make mistakes. We're going to help them rebound. We're going to help them learn to not make that mistake the next time. And we know that the best way to achieve safety is to create an atmosphere of fairness.
Yeah, I've said this about policing overall as safety and fairness can go hand in hand. We've seen that on our streets, we've seen it work with the neighborhood policing model; we see it in our schools as well.
Look, part of this is the restorative justice model and part of this is also looking at the other things that lead to challenges and problems. We have made a major investment in improving school climate, improving the ability of young people to address their problems. Also, addressing other types of problems that offer undergird violence or conflict, including mental health challenges that now are being addressed much more forthrightly because the City is putting an emphasis overall on more openly addressing mental health challenges and providing schools the support to do it. A lot of times it used to be that teachers had to try and figure what to do with a mental health challenge that one of their kids had but they didn't get a lot of support in doing it. The same with our police officers, they were asked to be mental health professionals even though it wasn't in their training.
We're putting a lot more expertise now into our system to provide that support to principals and teachers and everyone so that they see a young person dealing with a mental health challenge; they can get that help quickly. And when they get it early in life it makes a huge difference. $47 million is being spent each year on efforts to improve the school climate and address the mental health challenges in our schools. That's a big change.
Look, you saw again what happens in that circle, that restorative circle. You can imagine how that ripples out all over the school and how that teaches the folks who are part – the kids who are part of that circle, but they also spread the message to others and they lead by example.
We've also helped to train our officers in our schools to think differently about how to deal with conflict. The same de-escalation techniques that have been taught to NYPD officers who patrol our streets have been taught to our school safety officers as well. And that makes a big difference. The same emphasis on working not just with kids but their families, it really changes the whole approach.
Finally, you see how this effort to focus on safety correlates to an improvement in the school climate, and you get better academic results as well. Everyone knows we've talked about graduation rates going up, dropout rates going down. That has everything to do with a better school climate.
So, look, we know we've come a long way in this city, and to have had the safest school year on record is a great achievement. Everyone at the DOE should be very proud, everyone at the NYPD should be very proud. We know we can do even better, and we know the results in terms of young people's lives will be extraordinary. Every young person who feels safe will be able to realize their potential. Every young person who stays out of trouble because of these efforts will not end up missing out on all that they can do in life. That's what's happening everyday here at M.S. 88 and throughout our school system. So there is a lot to be proud of. Let me say a few words in Spanish before turning to the Commissioner.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that I turn to our Commissioner, and Commissioner I commend you and everyone at the NYPD and particularly school safety for this extraordinary achievement in the last school year.
Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill: Thank you Mr. Mayor. So this is the beauty of being the Police Commissioner. As I woke up this morning, I didn't really think about the odds of me at some point in the day holding a Kermit the Frog doll in my hands, but I guess they were pretty good, so I haven't been able to do that in a long time. My kids are a little bit older. But it's a pleasure to be sitting up here with Carlos and Brian and the rest of the executive staff. Good morning everyone. Inside our schools and out, it's the NYPD's mission to drive down crime and to keep people safe, particularly our young people.
Got that, right?
What you're hearing today is that crime continues to drop all across the city. School based enforcement continues to drop. The NYPD is actively committed to the safety of all our students in all our neighborhoods, whether it's through the actions of our crossing guards, our schools safety agents, or our police officers. We each and every day dedicate themselves to the protection of our children and our schools. And we do this through training and things like de-escalation and problem solving, what the Mayor spoke about.
Parents in all of our neighborhoods deserve to know their kids are learning in safe environments. I say it all the time, nothing we do – do we do alone. Because public safety is a shared responsibility and our partnership with the DOE and Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice and the City Council continue to pay dividends.
At the NYPD we're truly proud to see the ongoing reduction in enforcement activity in our schools and working hard to insure this trend continues. After all it's everyone's goal to insure the success of our students by providing safe environments for them to excel and to reach their full potentials.
What we're proving in New York City every day is that it's possible to have greater safety, and this means that we're doing things the right way. I am looking forward to our continued partnership in our schools and across the city at large so we can keep finding our way forward together. Thank you very much.
Mayor: Thank you Commissioner, as I turn to the Chancellor I just want to say we've been on this road a long time together. And I remember when we first teamed up in District 15 this was a school with a lot of good but also some real challenges. I want to commend you because I know it's been a passion of yours to get help M.S. 88 be all it can be and this is a very encouraging moment seeing those young people that we saw today. So congratulations, Chancellor Fariña.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña: Well, first of all I want to give a shout out to M.S. 88. For those of you who don't know the history, this school several years ago certainly as the principal came on board had an enrollment of 700 students and we were working very hard to bring it to 800, it is now 1,400, which means they have done a great job, but they didn't do a great job in isolation. They put certain things in place. This is a learning partner school; this is where I send other middle schools to see how to do good work particularly around social-emotional learning.
We have trained all our superintendents, and now I'm bringing it down to all our principals, what do we mean by school climate, what do we mean by social emotional learning? Anita did you go to Yale or Harvard this summer?
Superintendent Anita Skop, District 15: Yale
Chancellor Fariña: Yeah, Yale. We sent all our superintendents for training for a week or two to understand that, again, a school is not just about a place of learning, it's a place of learning social-emotional being. And this school in particular has done some really interesting things.
The restorative justice is not an add on, it's embedded into the school day. It's imbedded into all of the curriculums. What does this look in a math class, what does this look like in science class? So that's been very crucial. This is also one of our first schools that applied for a comfort dog, the comfort dog is somewhere in the audience here today. And we're increasing that number to 30 schools. When a child has a meltdown going to a guidance counselor's office and petting a dog is actually a stress reliever and its part of school climate.
I also can't say enough about Mark Rampersant, and all the people that he reports to, for the intense focus that he has given schools in the past that have been on the persistently dangerous. And when you talk to Mark, this is a passion of his to ensure that everyone works together. Also with Commissioner O'Neill and certainly Commissioner Bratton before him, having a relationship with the NYPD that is collaborative in nature that we try to find more ways that we can work together – I am going to your cadet graduation coming up relativity soon, and when you see the amount the work that they do with their police officers who are working with kids in many of our high schools and doing the tutoring in the summer program where we now have safety agents taking on additional courses on de-escalation of issues rather than just as you said, it make a real difference. And I think anytime a school gets on a list, Mark and I visit and we develop a focus plan. You don't get off a list of any kind without a focused approach to the plan.
So I think we're very proud of what we've done. This is a model school for the work. The fact that students sit in and talk to the principal and give the principal advice, not lip service. Because everybody has a student council. I've been asking more and more middle schools and high schools to make the student council real and have power to actually – the comfort dog program came out a student council member in a fifth grade in Queens. Where a student had came prepared to approach me about why he thought they should have a comfort dog in that building. He already figured out who was going to babysit for the dog, what it would cost, and everything else.
So, listening to students and respecting students which you heard this morning, then following up with them and their families, that's the way to build successful schools.
[Chancellor Fariña speaks in Spanish]
Mayor: Muchas gracias. Now, I want to turn to two of our elected officials. We depend on them for support and we depend on them to help us determine what's going to work better in our schools. And both of them have been very involved with the schools.
Assembly Member Felix Ortiz – we go back to the same time when I was representing this school in Sunset Park and Red Hook and the rest of the community in District 15. I want to thank you for helping us to achieve something very important for middle schools which was the funding to give every child an after school seat in our whole middle schools system. It's something that's making a huge difference in the lives of our young people. It's my pleasure to introduce Assembly Member Felix Ortiz –
Thank you very much, Assembly Member. And I want to introduce now the Council Member for this community. And a lot of the things we're talking about today – restorative justice, reducing suspensions, finding more effective and more progressive ways to help our young people move forward – I know the Council Member, Carlos Menchaca, has been a champion of these approaches and I hope you're gratified to see they're actually working.
Council Member Menchaca –
Thank you very much, Council Member. Alright, well done. Congratulations again [inaudible].
We are going to take questions on the school safety announcement, the results we've talked about today, and then we'll take questions on other topics. So, anything related to today's announcement? Yes.
Question: [Inaudible] apparently, the State [inaudible] is not available yet but every year in the past [inaudible] point to that State data on assaults and [inaudible] injuries going up when you're talking about arrests going down. So, could you please help us [inaudible] the difference of why the State data suggests a rise in the [inaudible] injuries [inaudible]?
Mayor: I'll start and then turn to the experts. The State, we've said many times, has a very different standard. We think it is a standard that exaggerates the situation by suggesting that something that we would never consider an assault is somehow worthy of that title. So, it's just a very different definition. I think the definition that's used by the NYPD and DOE are accurate and reflect the real world dynamics of our schools.
Commissioner O'Neill: Chief Bryan Conroy, the School Safety Chief, is going to talk about that.
NYPD School Safety Chief Brian Conroy: Just to add to what the Mayor said – there are, and he kind of hit the nail on the head, there's a lot of differences in how the State qualifies an assault. And we don't get privy to all the data that comes out of that but the ones we have seen we would never consider two kids playing in a playground and there's some sort of incident between a very young age, to be an assault. And unfortunately the State data does that.
So, if I understand also the State is working on clarifying how they're going to classify assaults because some of it's just not an assault.
Mayor: Mark you want to –
Mark Rampersant, DOE Deputy CEO for Safety and Security: We are working closely with the State and we have helped them to understand using sort of penal code language to define the actions of a kindergartener is probably not the best way to go.
The State in the continued collaboration is in fact overhauling their system and you can rest assure that you'll see a real distinction in between the two actions and sort of penal language. You'll see that there is a difference and a decrease in those areas of which you've identified.
Question: Just given the disparity between the State data and the City data, is this [inaudible] counted as a violent incidents when police are brought into the school and can you decide how the decision is made to [inaudible] internally and not count it towards this total versus calling the police?
Mayor: Chief, do you want to start?
Chief Conroy: So, we'll review each incident as it happens and we'll determine at that point what level we report each incident goes on an incident report that the School Safety Agent will fill out inside a school. The determination will be then how that incident is handled.
So, a very low-level incident inside a school may be handled by – in a joint decision – by either a school safety agent or a police officer from a precinct and the principal on how that incident may be handled. So, whether that rises to the level of [inaudible] an arrest or a summons is the sort of decision made between the principal, the school safety agent, and the police officer. And many of those incidents are handled inside the school however the school sees fit to handle it.
Deputy CEO Rampersant: And when we say fit, we are talking about following the [inaudible]. I will reiterate. A first grader hitting another first grader with an empty milk carton does not require an NYPD response, and our schools are equipped to deal with those kinds of issues. But for the State is there is any claim of pain from that empty milk carton, they classify that as an assault with a weapon. Everyone should be shivering right now –
Deputy CEO Rampersant: Especially if you have a first grader –
Mayor: I was going to say, especially if you're carrying a milk carton.
Question: The ones – the incidents that you all count and consider violent incidents, does that mean that the police were involved or not necessarily. I guess I'm wondering is there some clear determination to put it in that pile versus not.
Chief Conroy: Well that the police are aware of. So, many incidents may be handled inside a classroom with no police involvement whatsoever. However the principal may report that on their internal reporting system that gets to the State.
Deputy CEO Rampersant: And I think that one point of clarity that we need to make is there's a difference between a crime and incident, right. And our police officers and school safety agents are responding to crimes in schools and an incident is not necessarily a crime.
Question: Mr. Mayor, Chancellor kudos obviously are deserved by everyone at this table, elected officials and appointed but what part did the school teachers and the staff of the schools themselves play in reaching this particular day?
Mayor: I'll start and then turn to the Chancellor. Crucial – the teachers and all the school staff are the front line. And they have been essential to changing the climate in the schools and supporting this notion of a greater level of dialogue, more restorative justice, things that change the way a young person handles a situation.
You can't make change on this scale without the teachers being front and center.
Chancellor Farina: And obviously the restorative justice model that we've seen in this school is now spread out throughout the city. So, we've done it in two ways. We have summer workshops on restorative justice for teachers. We also have had it for principals so they can turn it down on the Monday, 80 minutes PD, part of the –
Mayor: Say what PD is –
Chancellor Farina: Professional development. What is also acceptable is to have workshops for teachers on social-emotional. We have highlighted schools that are doing a particularly good job around restorative justice and encourage other schools to go visit them.
So, this has been an all-hands on deck kind of effort to make sure, of course, the teacher in the classroom is – everything happens in the classroom and that's really important.
But I want to also reference another point. Regardless of what statistics you're using – and I do believe the alignment to NYPD is crucial for us – if you start from 2006 to now, whatever the numbers, we are down to two. And I don't want to lose sight that that's really something that is very special and something that needs to be celebrated because we can sometimes fudge all kinds of other issues but the number of schools that have gone down is really a testament to our leaders in our system.
Question: I know that weapon recoveries have spiked in the last years [inaudible] press release any data on weapon recovery – if you could just fill me in on that.
Chief Conroy: So, we have seen over the last several years an increase in the number of weapons that we've been recovering at the school. So, we've done a lot of training over the last five years on detecting weapons and making sure that when we're doing scanning or we're just working together with the other adults inside the schools including the principals and teachers on making sure that the school safe. We think overall we're doing better.
Most of our weapons are actually recovered based on information we get inside the school. So, that's working with the teachers, working with the principals, working with the other students who are identifying other people who may be carrying a weapon inside the school. We have seen an increase –
Mayor: I just wanted to –
Chief Conroy: Yes, we've had another – this year we've had a total of 1,429 weapons recovered. Weapons and dangerous incidents – we differentiate between the two. And prior year to that – '15 and '16 was 1,073.
Mayor: So, I want to make two points about this –
Chief Conroy: [Inaudible]
Mayor: We take very seriously any weapon in a school, obviously. But there's two things that I think are important to recognize in this. One is there's a lot more dialogue going on between NYPD and DOE in closer collaboration. And also, just like neighborhood policing has resulted – and we see more and more evidence of this in residents sharing information with police – this kind of model gets young people to share information with school safety and with teachers which helps find those weapons.
Look, we don't want any weapon in a school but if a weapon comes in a school we want school safety to get their hands on it. So, this begs the question – over the years were there are lot of weapons that got into school and never were located and identified? And I think that's probably the case.
Now, we can argue very clearly that better communication, better coordination, better training is leading to a lot more weapons being found. The more weapons that are found, the more it discourages any young person from bringing a weapon.
So, this – I take those numbers very, very seriously but I also think they indicate a process of change that's ultimately going to lead to a much safer environment.
Question: It seems that when the State data is advantageous i.e. when the number [inaudible] goes down to two, you validate them and you celebrate them. When they're not advantageous, when the number of violent incidents [inaudible] between your numbers and their numbers [inaudible] –
Mayor: It's a fair question but I would answer it in a very straight forward manner. We believe that for all the facts we've put forward that our schools are getting safer and safer. And so if the State puts forward that clarifies that, that's helpful because it tracks with everything we know. They're not here every day, we are. We know this is true.
On the specific question of how they categorize incidents or assaults, we have difference. And I think Mark gave you a great you a great example. I'm a parent. If my kids were in the first grade and they threw an empty milk carton or they were on the receiving end, there's no way in the world I would consider that a violent incident. So, I don't know how the State of New York does that.
And by the way, it's pretty unusual, compared to other differences we might have with other levels of government, this one's a little strange to all of us how they possibly could interpret that that way.
So, we've been clear that we stand apart on that one but the persistently dangerous school reality I think – we think is consistent with the data we have.
Way back –
Question: So, I have two questions. One – when you say safest school year on record, since when did the City begin keeping records? And if could just sort of clarity exactly what you mean by safest. Like, is it the fewest arrests and summonses in schools ever? Like –
Mayor: I'll start and then turn to my colleagues. As per usual, there's different measures that have been kept at different points in time. I think we're doing something here in part based on common sense.
We all know how violent our schools were for decades. Every one of us who was around understood the extent the problem. So, we know you have to go back many decades to find something that was at all as safe as what we're seeing now. And we also know when you go back too many decades, there wasn't a lot of record keeping.
So, it's one part common sense – what we've all experienced decades from the last 20, 30, 40 years versus now. And another part based on specific measures like how many schools are on persistently dangerous, how many incidents, etcetera.
Chancellor Fariña: 2006 was the year that we started with these particular measurements. And we are saying the safest since 2006 right now.
Commissioner O'Neill: And if you want some numbers, Chief Conroy –
Chancellor Fariña: For the persistently dangerous category.
Question: And the second question is just on the precinct level data [inaudible] NYPD had to report their action between precinct officers and incidents in schools. And that data has shown that there are wide disparities in how black students are represented [inaudible]. So, I'm wondering what your response to [inaudible].
Mayor: Look, I want to say – our very clear goal in everything we do in policing and in education is to end a history of disparity that has plagued this city for decades. And a lot of what we are reviewing with you today is part of that change.
When you see crime going down in schools, suspensions going down in schools, summons going down in schools it speaks to reducing disparity because we all know that it was overwhelmingly young people of color, and particularly young boys of color, who were on the receiving end of all of that.
So, we're in a process of change but I think the most striking thing here is that the level of discipline has been adjusted and we're still finding a way to make things safer. That speaks volumes to the reality I think a lot of people believe and a lot of advocates believe that there were too many young boys of color in particular who were getting suspensions who shouldn't have gotten them. This is part of changing that reality.
Chief Conroy: To clarify –
Commissioner O'Neill: Hold on, Brian. I think this is consistent with our neighborhood policing philosophy also, too. Now that you have steady sector cops that will be going through the [inaudible] if there's a need to go into a school, it'll be the same cops going into the same schools so that you'll have familiarity. Brian.
Chief Conroy: Just to add to – the NYPD took over the school safety responsibilities in 1998. So, those are the first years when we started actually tracking accurately as we can best do since 1998. So, that's when the school safety [inaudible] Police Department took over responsibility for school safety. So, we look back at that point as being the safest since that point.
Question: Mr. Mayor [inaudible] assault with a milk carton [inaudible]?
Chief Conroy: So, we've said there's been an increase in the number of weapons recovered and we've seen a steady increase over the years. Now, you also have to look at what does the State classify as a weapon which I don't have. That's based on what a principal may be putting in their report. So, we don't know when [inaudible] principal could put down a toy gun when somebody recovers a toy gun from a very young child, and the State may classify that as a gun being recovered because they see the word gun on there.
Chief Conroy: We do not discount it, we said there's a difference in reporting and how they are tracking their information.
Mayor: Can I just bring this back to try and answer your question better – we believe in the NYPD's numbers. So, the State of New York is going to have its own standards. That's great. But I believe in the way the NYPD handles public safety in the city including in our schools.
So, to your question, which I think is a very, very fair question – we talked about the decrease in crime which has now been for five years in a row. We talked about the reduction in suspensions, summonses. These are facts. We talked also about the number of guns being recovered, which on the one hand causes real concern, on the other hand shows successful work to recover the guns and other weapons. But, Chief, on the questions that Marcia raised about other categories, let's be clear and of course, Mark as well –
Chancellor Fariña: [Inaudible]
Mayor: Any specifics to give about what's going up and what's going down so we can show what NYPD says.
Chancellor Fariña: Mark –
Deputy CEO Rampersant: So, when you talk about the comparison between the NYPD's numbers and the State's numbers as it relates to weapons you'll see that the State – they're categorizing non-traditional items as weapons. For instance, I gave you the example of the milk carton. Well, the milk carton then becomes a weapon. That would never be seen on the NYPD data.
Another example of a sex offense is a second grader patting the buttocks of another young lady – another student. Well, the State classifies that as a sex offense, the NYPD would not. So, that's the perfect example and that's where you will see difference in numbers.
Deputy CEO Rampersant: Correct.
Deputy CEO Rampersant: No, this is a way by which you see those increases in those figures that are much different than the NYPD's. So, they're classifying all of these different things as weapons when in fact that would not be the case for the Police Department.
Chancellor Farina: And even assaults.
Mayor: Go ahead.
Question: [Inaudible] policy about a year, year-and-a-half ago [inaudible] success of that policy in [inaudible] –
Mayor: I'll start and again turn to the experts after. Look, the warning card is one tool. And we reserve the rights to use whatever tool fits the occasion. It could an arrest, it could be a summons, it could be a warning, obviously it could lead to a suspension, it could not lead to a suspension. Restorative justice is another very powerful option.
This tracks, Marcia, exactly the way we're handling neighborhood policing in general. And again, what I give Commissioner O'Neill and Commissioner Bratton before him great credit for – recognizing that we want our officers to use discretion based on very, very effective training, and choose the tool that works for the situation. And obviously now because there's a better coordination between DOE and NYPD, you've got principals and other members of the school team talking to school safety deciding, together, what's the best path.
So, I want to be clear, that warning card is one of many tools but with that use of that new tool and everything else, we've seen a reduction in crime, we've seen a reduction in violence. So, we think that indicates it's a valuable tool.
So, anyone wants to speak to how it works –
Deputy CEO Rampersant: I would hope that anyone would agree that any one less summons in a school is successful. The warning card program in our eyes has been very successful. It allows for the school safety agents and NYPD to offer or use another tool in their respective tool belts. It forces the conversation between the NYPD and school staff, and supporting the young person – or should I say the whole young person, right, because if this young person is in possession of marijuana, a summonses is not going to solve that problem. We want to ensure that this young person is getting the supports that he or she may need. So, this forces the two-way and some ways three-way conversation, and I think that this program has been successful thus far.
Chancellor Fariña: And I'd like to add something here. It aligns more closely, the conversations between schools safety officers and school personnel. One of the things that I think I've seen particularly this year is that when I walk into a school the principal will say, oh and they school safety agents are really working very closely with us. I really didn't hear a lot of that a couple years ago and I think when they're aligned and the conversation is how do we make this school not only safer for students but how are students more respectful of the rules and regulations of the city, it makes for a better conversation. It's not an I-got-you mentality which I think really is better for everybody.
Question: To follow up on that, I know that these cards are being issued for two things that normally or in other circumstances could lead to a summons, possession of small amounts of marijuana and disorderly conduct. Are you counting how many of these warnings are given out given that otherwise if you weren't doing to warning program these things might have been logged as summonses that would count towards, you know, the data that you're saying is the lowest ever?
Deputy CEO Rampersant: Yes, we are working collaboratively with the NYPD. They track the particular numbers of warning cards issued. I guess we'll share that data when able to. I'll turn to my press folks, you know I'm a little loose, I'll just give numbers out – I'm not sure if I'm supposed to –
Mayor: Chief, you want to add to that?
Chief Conroy: No, we can provide the numbers on the warning cards but it's a pilot project that we started just to give our officers and school safety agents another option. It not only opens up the conversation between the police officer, school safety agent, school personnel, but also gives a chance for the officer and the agent to talk with the student, and maybe go over those issues that they may be having and work closely and try to counsel them. So we see a lot of positive, we're early into that. It's only in 16 school campuses so far so we're early, but we did see, you know, from the Department of Education that we have a very low recidivism rate on student getting into trouble again after getting a warning card. So we see some very positives early on.
Mayor: And Chief, if I understand correctly the warning card also correlates to a system of reaching out to the family and engaging them, could you talk about that?
Chief Conroy: It's very important in what we work very closely with the school administration and the principal is then going to call the student's parents or guardians and talk to them about the incident and have a conversation with them about it to get everybody sort of working together to try to improve that behavior.
Mayor: So the goal is to stop the behavior, let's just be clear, this is why we think it's valuable. Sometimes a warning that the next time there is going to be much greater consequences and involving the family members, as you can imagine the result that that can have in terms of the child's understanding of things. Sometimes that's what gets the young person on the right track and they never come back to having a problem. God forbid there is more, well then there'll be more consequences.
Question: Yes, can you possible identify the two most dangerous schools in New York City?
Mayor: I have them in here – you have them? Whoever –
Chancellor Fariña: I know. I.S. 49 on Staten – I.S. 49 Staten Island and 183 on the Rockaways in Queens. I have memorized them, and I want to be very clear that last year when we got the original – and every year since I've been Chancellor those schools get an immediate visit from both Mark and myself. We develop an immediate plan with the administrators and the NYPD in that particular area. If they need more support, we give them more support but more importantly what structures need to change in that building to ensure that parents feel safe and that the school changes. One of the schools that was on the list in prior years, we put in a tremendous amount of extra support and this year for the first time the enrollment is actually going way high. So sometimes it just means that more attention to it, more focus, and what is the support, the support that one school needs may not be the same support another school needs. And you can be sure that Mark and I will be there momentarily.
Deputy CEO Rampersant: With an army of support.
Mayor: With an army of support.
Juliet is that you? Yes?
Question: What is the name of this service dog and what kind of dog is it? Is there a picture or is the dog here?
Mayor: You mean here at this school?
Chancellor Fariña: Yeah, Petey.
Commissioner O'Neill: The dog is here.
Mayor: The dog is here? The dog is available for interviews after.
Chancellor Fariña: Petey is named after the school –
Chancellor Fariña: – the school district – this school is the Peter Rouget School, so Petey is named after the school.
Mayor: And who the heck is Peter Rouget?
Chancellor Fariña: There's Petey.
Mayor: Okay, well there's Petey. Where's Petey? Petey's making an appearance. The whole press conference will now be – descend in to pandemonium. Petey cannot be seen by the cameras, could you hold up Petey please?
Commissioner O'Neill: Put him on the table.
Mayor: That's right. There's Petey, let's give Petey a round of applause.
Chancellor Fariña: When I say we are looking at every single thing that will deescalate issues particularly for students in crisis, kids with some mental issues, special needs kids, going into an office and just you know, petting a dog, can sometime de-escalate issues. And doesn't hurt to work with adults either, so we're very happy to do this program. And last year was our first year with seven schools and next year will be 30 schools. And schools have to apply, there's a very rigorous process but we will try anything to bring a better climate to our schools.
Question: What kind of dog? What kind of dog?
Mayor: What kind of dog is Petey?
Chancellor Fariña: They're all rescue dogs.
Unknown: Rescue dog but Lhasa Apso.
Chancellor Fariña: Lhasa.
Mayor: Could you say that again? Lhasa what?
Chancellor Fariña: Lhasa Apso.
Mayor: Lha –
Chancellor Fariña: Lhasa Apso.
Mayor: Is this like a tongue twister?
Chancellor Fariña: Now it's a rescue dog let's stick with – it's a rescue dog. All the dogs in the program –
Mayor: Juliet, we're going to get the official spelling of that for you.
Chancellor Fariña: They're all rescue dogs specifically trained to work in schools.
Question: [Inaudible] –
Chancellor Fariña: Someone on in – part of the application process, someone in the school has to be totally responsible, take them home at night and watch over them all the weekends. And that's part of the demands before a school is awarded it.
Mayor: You guys think of everything. Okay wait a minute, you had your hand up.
Question: I'm just wondering if all of these statistics that you're celebrating led to any new decisions on metal detectors and any particular schools being removed or added or what have you.
Mayor: It's the same process that we're going to look school by school. And that's, I think, very, very important to have school safety working with the DOE to look at what's happening in that school and make a decision specific to that school.
Question: But there hasn't been any changes –
Mayor: No we think that's the right strategy and that can lead to more or less use of metal detectors temporary or permanent depending on what the facts show over a period of time.
Grace, did you have something?
Question: I just – the 30 schools that it's expanding to, will all 30 of those have dogs?
Chancellor Fariña: Yes.
Question: That's part of the program, yes?
Mayor: Okay, yes, you're off.
Question: I just wanted to get clarity on the milk carton assault incident are we speaking about a real incident or is this a hypothetical example?
Deputy CEO Rampersant: Unfortunately it's a real incident.
Question: That happened in this last year or when –
Deputy CEO Rampersant: Last year, yes. It was a – yes, unfortunately yes.
Mayor: Way back.
Question: So I have a question, I know you're saying that there's more communication between the NYPD and the DOE and I was wondering when a school does RJ and they train their staff, their teachers and administrators, do the safety agents attend those trainings too? I was just wondering what on the ground level is happening between the school and the safety agents, and then also, you know I don't know what the average tenure of a safety agent is at a particular school so what happens when there's turnover with the safety agents at a school that's doing RJ.
Mayor: So I just want to clarify for everyone so, one are the safety agents included in the training and the school strategy around restorative justice? And two are – is there new training for new agents in the same work? Who's got it?
Deputy CEO Rampersant: So we are working collaboratively with the school safety division and we are working aggressively to include school safety agents in that respective training. I am happy to say that one of our schools in the Bronx, students actually trained the school safety agents and once the agents took part in the first training those agents requested to take part in that second training with students, and I got to say, students enjoyed it, agents enjoyed it, but most of all the principals enjoyed it.
The word is out, and we're expanding it to other schools. But besides that respective borough, we are doing these trainings in other boroughs, always offering for the NYPD an opportunity to participate in those trainings. The unfortunate part about that is the agents, in terms of their availability, is not such as in our respective schools, school staff I should say, so we work with school safety to find, you know, holiday times, times when schools are down for professional developments so forth and so on, and inject agents in. Right? And so anytime a school is open you know there's got to be a safety agent at a door. So every agent may not get an opportunity to participate. But we continue to do the round robin training with school safety agents in mind.
Chancellor Fariña: And I – the other thing is we also need to celebrate success so, we started I think two or three years ago having one day a year where we celebrate outstanding safety agents at the DOE. And they have to be nominated by school staff in approval with NYPD. And this has also been another way of saying you're valuable, you're important, you're not just an appendage in a school but you have to have done something that staff recognizes. And they've run the gambit from one of the safety agents who on his lunch hour plays basketball with all the kids in the building, another one who's done taking trips with kids on Saturdays. We need to raise the awareness that these are the good guys, and these are people who add to our school culture. So I think this is really, really important.
Mayor: Yes, David.
Question: [inaudible] the milk carton was full of milk and did it hit someone in the head? Do you know where it hit the person?
Mayor: It was empty I believe.
Deputy CEO Rampersant: It was an empty milk carton, empty.
Mayor: Empty. And the grade level was?
Deputy CEO Rampersant: It was a – I want to say it was a first grader.
Mayor: First grader, empty milk carton.
Unknown: Was it chocolate?
Mayor: That's right, important things to know.
Okay last call on this topic. Yes, please.
Question: I apologize if this was answered –
Mayor: No worries.
Question: – just for like an apples to apples comparison what is the number of violent incidents that occurred in schools that the City says. Or I guess it's –
Commissioner O'Neill: Brian, you have those numbers or –
Chief Conroy: We can get you after; I'll give you all the statistics on the school crime.
Mayor: Okay, so you're going to get them out today?
Chief Conroy: Yes.
Mayor: In time for their deadlines? Okay.
Last call on this topic. Going once, twice. Other topics. Other topics. Way back.
Question: Mayor, there's new leadership that's just been announced at the Port Authority and we understand later today – new leadership at the MTA. You may not have been briefed on these –
Mayor: Amazingly, Andrew, I've not.
Question: But I'm wondering, what have you seen from your now more-frequent subway trips? What have you learned from it? And are you confident that today we're headed in the right direction?
Mayor: I have seen how frustrated people are who ride the subways and how worried they are about being able to get where they have to get on time.
Mayor: Hold on a sec – I'll pause while people depart. I'll start again, Andrew. Okay, get out of the way of the cameras, my friends. Thank you. I've seen how frustrated New Yorkers are who ride the subways – that they are constantly worried about being late. That has become more and more a part of their life – to assume they're going to be late and it could affect whether they get to their job on time, it could affect whether they make a doctor's appointment, or whether they can pick up their child after school on time. These are real serious matters for every-day New Yorkers. So, I've certainly heard that frustration as I've been riding the subways.
I see some of the problems I saw for years when I was riding the subways all the time when it was the only thing I used to get around, but they've gotten worse – that's obvious – and there's more frustration.
I do think the plan announced by Chairman Lhota was a step in the right direction. I don't think we should assume because he announced an initial plan that the problem is now solved. I think we should see it for what it is – a step in the right direction. A lot of the right ideas are now on the table. Now, they have to execute them and I've reminded us all there's been many, many years where we've questioned the effectiveness of the MTA for good reason and I think the lack of accountability that's gone with the history of the MTA is part of the problem.
So, one of the things I'm most excited about is the notion of a CompStat-like approach. Put up online for everyone to see what's going on with these changes, are they working, how are they affecting the lives of every-day New Yorkers, and then we can measure whether something's actually getting different in people's lives.
Question: [Inaudible] have you revisited at all the idea of increasing the City's share of the funding. And if not, why not?
Mayor: Same reason. I've not revisited for the same exact reason. Job-one is for the State of New York to return to the MTA the $456 million that they've taken out of the MTA budget since 2011. Those are documented, Andrew. They're out in the open. It was money that comes from revenue for the MTA – taxes devoted specifically by law to the MTA. That money was diverted by the State of New York. They need to return the money to the MTA. That would literally cover the cost of Chairman Lhota's plan immediately.
And I'm not going to ask City taxpayers to cough up money for something that should be the State's responsibility and that – literally, the State took the money away from the MTA to begin with. The City of New York – the people of New York City pay so much between fares, between tolls, taxes toward the MTA. New York City residents pay a huge amount of the cost of the MTA right now. The State needs to do its fair share. Going forward, we're ready to talk about the long term plan and what we all need to do – that's something I'm very much ready to be a part of. But I'm not going to put city taxpayer's money into something when the State hasn't given the money it deserves – it's as simple as that.
Question: On the deal reached late last night about funding for immigrant [inaudible] council – do you personally solicit donations from –
Question: – members of City Hall –
Mayor: I have no idea how that happened specifically. I had nothing to do with it though, I can tell you that much.
Question: Personally, did you get your staff –
Mayor: Again, when I say the phrase I have no idea, it literally means I have no idea.
Question: Has anyone in City Hall seek COIB guidance on soliciting any kind –
Mayor: I don't know. I was not part of the specific process. All I know is that the money comes from foundations.
Question: Who was [inaudible] –
Mayor: I don't now but we can certainly give you a sense of that. Way back –
Question: There seems to be a resurgence with the Times Square characters –
Mayor: No, I'm going to stop you and then I will respectfully listen to your question. I think the New York Post thinks there's a resurgence because they like putting naked ladies on the cover of their newspaper, but I don't think there is a resurgence. Please, continue.
Question: [Inaudible] what is the exact role of the Police Department [inaudible] it's really clear –
Mayor: I think – I'm going to tell you and I'll turn to the Commissioner. I don't know what could be clearer – we created these designated zones and if someone tries to ply their trade outside of those zones, they have a legal problem and the NYPD can enforce. Also, any other violation of law, including menacing people, the NYPD can enforce. And there's a very strong NYPD presence in Times Square. So, I think this is an attempt, as per usual, to gin up a problem and hope everybody will go running after it when, in fact, the facts just don't bear it out. Commissioner?
Commissioner O'Neill: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Nothing I like to talk about more. I'm going to go through a few things and then Chief Monahan is going to talk about the specifics about designated activity zones. So, just take a look at Times Square right now – we're going to look at index crimes. Major crimes in Times Square – 2017 as opposed to 2016 – we're down 23.7 percent. So, in '16 there were 219. This year, there's 167. Out of that 167, 19 are assaults from the incident in Times Square where the people were run over. 3-1-1 calls are down 42 percent – 251 last year down to 144 this year. And then, DAZ summons – designated activity zones summonses are up 21 percent, from 137 last year to 166 this year. So, we are doing more. Times Square is a very safe place and Chief Monahan will explain to you now our rules for enforcing D-A-Z zones.
Chief Monahan: Alright, we have 105 police officers assigned into the Times Square area on a regular basis. These same cops are there every day. They know these cartoon characters and everyone else in there very well. To enforce the designated activity zones, it's a two-pronged test. You have to see them perform an activity outside the designated zone and-or solicit money outside the zone. So, we have to be able to make that observation.
If someone comes up – if a cartoon character takes a picture outside the zone but never solicits money, that is not a violation. They can go up to people outside the zone, talk to them, see if they want to come into the zone and take a picture, and then solicit money – that would not be a violation of law. So, our officers are very well trained in what to observe and what they need to do. When it comes to the aggressive solicitation – again, there's two different things. The person who's approached has to fear – that they are in in fear of personal bodily harm. So, we need that complainant to be able to say when that cartoon character came up to them, they were afraid, that they thought that they were going to get hurt. Otherwise, we need to be able to watch the character for a while and be able that he's aggressively following the person and-or aggressively imbedding his movement. So, a character, or someone coming up just putting their arm around them and then leaving would not meet the definition of aggressive. So, our cops are very well versed in this. We use both uniformed and under covers to monitor their activity and we will continue to do so.
Mayor: Terry, just for everyone's benefit, can you explain what the charges can be and if they lead to arrest or not.
Chief Monahan: For the aggressive solicitation, that's an unclassified misdemeanor and they can be arrested for that. For the activity outside of the zone, that is a criminal court summons and they will be issued a summons on the scene.
Mayor: And the summons levels – I'm trying to remember the dollar figures associated with the summons. Do you know that off-hand?
Chief Monahan: I'd have to get back to you with those numbers.
Mayor: We'll get you that. Okay, Marcia.
Question: Mr. Mayor, it's a two part [inaudible] your reaction to yesterday's Quinnipiac poll that hosts your approval rating dropped [inaudible] but I'm also wondering [inaudible]?
Mayor: I don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out my opponent's strategies. The things she talks about consistently show that she's out of touch with the values of New Yorkers. For example, raising the question of bail reform, people all over the city want to see fewer people incarcerated with the right rules in place to make sure that public safety is preserved. They certainly want to see Rikers Island closed. She seems to be going in the wrong direction there both in terms of substance but also in terms of the values of New Yorkers.
So, I don't think consistently saying things that people find to be the wrong position is going to get her very far. In terms of the poll, I've said this to you before, polls come, polls go. I'm never surprised the ways they go up or down. It's not just a famous hackneyed phrase, the only poll that matters is on Election Day. That is literally a true statement. And, by the way, I think November 8th, 2016 was maybe the ultimate version of that, to be honest. And I really, really don't like what happened, but I think for all of us who have watched politics for a long time, that's the truth – we don't know anything until the people vote. But I never caught up in the week-to-week or month-to-month variations. I think the bottom line is that people in this city are going to judge based on record. And today's an example – crime is going down in the city, crime is going down in our schools. Obviously our schools are doing better by our kids – higher graduation rate, Pre-K for All, we're creating affordable housing – these are the things people want to see from the City of New York, and that's what I'll be running on.
Question: Are you saying [inaudible]
Mayor: We'll have plenty of time to debate issue by issue, but I think her values as a conservative Republican – her values are out of touch with the people of New York City. I think that's an obvious statement.
Way back – Lisa?
Question: Mr. Mayor, do you have an update on the fatal shooting yesterday in Flatbush-Gardens of the emotionally disturbed man?
Mayor: Let me turn to the Commissioner for that.
Commissioner O'Neill: Lisa, Chief Monahan gave a preliminary statement yesterday. We did have the opportunity to interview the non-shooting officers last night, so he'll give you an update from the information we gained from those interviews.
Chief Monahan: Alright, again, this is still an ongoing investigation, but we have more information based on these interviews. What we know now is that our officers responded to the door. All four officers are at the door, Mr. Jeune's mother opens the door for them, they enter the apartment. As they enter the apartment, Mrs. Jeune runs to the back of the apartment, yelling, he's back here, he's back here. Officer Gierlachowski was the first officer into the apartment. He was armed with a Taser. All four officers enter the apartment, once they're in the living room area, Mr. Jeune comes running out of the back directly at of the back directly at Officer Gierlachowski starts to backpedal and fires the Taser, striking Mr. Jeune in the chest and in the arm. Mr. Jeune continues forward, into Officer Gierlachowski knocking him prone onto the floor. He then straddles over him with a knife in his hand. At that point, Officer Gonzalez fires five rounds, striking Mr. Jeune, causing his demise.
Question: And was the original 9-1-1 call a mother being threatened by the son with a knife?
Chief Monahan: No, he puts it over as a nonviolent, no weapons.
Question: Just to follow up on that – the officer [inaudible] reported that the officer was involved in a previous shooting of an emotionally disturbed person. Can you give us a sense of what happens now? An officer has twice been involved in fatally shooting someone under similar circumstances. Is the Department going to look at that? Is there going to be some kind of training? What happens?
Commissioner O'Neill: So, of course we take a look at it. Officer Gonzalez was involved in a prior shooting where someone called 9-1-1 on themselves stating they had a gun and a knife. That didn't come over as – Terry, correct me if I'm wrong – it didn't come over as an emotionally disturbed person. There was video of that incident –
Mayor: You mean the previous incident?
Commissioner O'Neill: Yeah, the previous incident. Officer Gonzalez – it has not been finalized for our Force Investigation Division, but it will be shortly and we see that shooting as within guidelines.
Question: Just to follow up on that – mental health advocates have been calling for [inaudible] specially train officers. Is that something the City's moving forward on? Or is there an update on that?
Commissioner O'Neill: We continue to train our officers in crisis intervention training and we are working with DOHMH. We have co-response cars also. Just be reminded that this came over a nonviolent emotionally disturbed person yesterday.
Mayor: And I want to also remind – we also have a lot of officers who are trained, a lot of specialized units, but there's also a time factor in some situations where whoever can respond most quickly may be needed. But it's certainly, as you heard from the Commissioner, we have a very intense focus on depending mental health training for officers across the board. Yes?
Question: Mr. Mayor, yesterday I spoke to former DCAS Deputy Commissioner Ricardo Morales. He lead negotiations of a land and tax deal with a political donor of yours [inaudible] an issue that got you and your team in trouble with federal prosecutors.
He was fired the same day you were interviewed by those prosecutors. He says that you and your team acted not illegally but unethically, and that he was fired because he followed the law and refused to give favorable treatment to that campaign donor of yours, Harendra Singh. You've said there were [inaudible] but in a career of more than two decades with City government, he's been recognized for his leadership and ethics. Were you the one who made the decision –
Mayor: No –
Question: – to fire him or were you involved in that decision? And did the handling of the Singh case have anything to do with it?
Mayor: No. No, no, and no.
Question: So, do you have any idea why he was fired?
Mayor: I have a lot of respect for Commissioner Lisette Camillo and a lot of respect for Deputy Mayor Shorris, and that's something they determined based on performance. It had nothing to do with these other matters. That's just a fact.
Question: Mr. Mayor, of course, going back to the poll, your popularity dropped ten points in the course of just two months. Does that inspire you [inaudible] regrets about how [inaudible] in the last few months whether it's, you know [inaudible] legal bills on to taxpayers or in dealing with the subways, or do you believe it's something beyond [inaudible]?
Mayor: I never believe that. I am constantly asking myself, what can I do better? And like every other human being I'm sure I make plenty of mistakes. But that's not how I look at polling, as I mentioned earlier. You'll recall the year 2013, where if I had gone by the polling, I wouldn't even have bothered to get out of bed in the morning for most of that year.
You know, we just have learned this lesson over and over – polling only tells you so much. I feel confident that the things that we are doing that affect people's lives are what matter. I'm sure I make all sorts of mistakes but when it comes to the basics that people care about, I feel great about the record and I think people recognize it.
They want to see crime down and they also want to see more fairness. So, crime's gone down three years in a row. It's continuing to go down this year while stop-and-frisk is down 93 percent. We have the fewest complaints police officers we've had in a long time. That is a policy that is working. Obviously, more affordable housing, free lawyers to help people stop from being evicted, rent freeze. These are all things that people care about deeply and that affect their lives.
And I think in the end, that's what they're going to decide on – did their lives get better in some way? Was the City moving in the direction they cared about?
Question: So, no regrets?
Mayor: I always have regrets but I don't delineate point by point what I think was great in each day and what I have regrets about. I'm always sure I can do better and I push myself to do better all the time.
Question: Just to go back to shooting [inaudible] bigger picture. One – Commissioner, can you provide some clarity on why a stun gun or Taser might not stop somebody, why it might not be effective. And two – just an update on the number of officers that have gone through CIT training and the goal for the Department?
Commissioner O'Neill: Yeah, Colin, I'm going to have to get you the exact number and I can do that. DCPI can get you it. And there's a number of reasons why a Taser could fail. One of them could be clothing. One them is that the spread of the darts is not wide enough. So, there are number of reason why it could fail.
Question: And do we know yet specifically if this –
Commissioner O'Neill: No, we don't. No, it's still part of the investigation.
Question: Did the four cops who respond [inaudible] have crisis intervention –
Commissioner O'Neill: One officer did have CIT training.
Chief Monahan: Officer Gierlachowski had it. Three of them actually did.
Question: Three of them?
Chief Monahan: Yes.
Question: Is this officer [inaudible]?
Chief Monahan: No, he's not.
Question: And is there any plan to sort of increase the pace of that training or change the [inaudible] –
Commissioner O'Neill: We are – of course we are always looking for ways to improve the way we respond to emotionally disturbed persons calls. I think in 2016 we have 150,000. So, this is going to be part – going forward, I think the pace of which we're training them, it's a pretty extensive training program but we're moving along the way we'd like. Of course, we would like it always to move a little bit faster. But we also have to make sure that there's a lot of other training that we do also.
Question: Just to follow up –
Mayor: Hold on, you had a bunch, my friend. We'll come back to you.
Question: Can we get an update on the security measures in place for J'Ouvert. There's been a report that everyone attending the festival is going to be screened for guns –
Mayor: So, I want to just start before turning to the Commissioner. Look, this, we – I want to thank the NYPD but I also want to thank all of the community leaders who have been part of discussions over the last few months. Clergy, elected officials, community leaders, all of whom shared a goal which was to come up with a new and better plan.
As you know in the previous year, we thought – last year – we thought we have a very, very robust plan, much more presence than in the past. We obviously were not happy with what happened and we need to do something very different.
So, from the beginning there was a decision to fundamentally change the reality including the hours – so, now it will all happen during daylight – and the level of screening to make sure there are not weapons anywhere nearby.
So, that's – you're going to see a lot of differences this year compared to last year. And there's been a high level of cooperation and buy-in from community leaders.
Commissioner O'Neill: So, we've been working very closely with the City Council, the Brooklyn Borough President since the day after J'Ouvert last year. Last year, we had double the number of police officers we put at the detail, increased the number of lights, we increased the number of cameras.
This year we are – the time, the beginning of the parade is going to be at 6:00 am. So, we'll be doing during daylight hours. And I'll let Terry – Chief Monahan – talk about what we're doing as far as screening people to get into the route. And it's a pretty significant change.
And I have to stress here, this is something we have done in conjunction with Eric, Jumaane, and a number of other elected officials and the people running the J'Ouvert event. So, this is something that – this is our way forward, here, to try to keep that event as safe as possible.
Chief Monahan: Alright, so, I've been meeting on a regular basis with all the community leaders and all the electeds on this. And we came together with a plan that for the route itself we want to similar to Times Square. That there will be a screening process – approximate 12 different entry points coming into the route where people are going to have to go through a winding system similar to what we do at Times Square for New Year's Eve.
You know, we won't be allowing large backpacks. We won't be allowing alcohol to be taken onto the route. So, it will be a significant increase but this was a consensus of everyone in the room that this is the way we want to go.
Question: So, is this just in a specific location that you're doing it now, like a set location? Or is this –
Commissioner O'Neill: There's a route. There's – Juliet, there's always been a route. It starts on Flatbush, goes to Empire, and then goes over to Nostrand.
Question: Mr. Mayor, two questions. Following up on the anonymous donor. Are you saying that the Council and the Speaker led the effort to find that donor and that you weren't involved –
Mayor: I don't know what part of 'I don't know' I'm not getting across here. I really don't know the mechanics of it. I have a lot of other things I'm more focused on than someone who gave a relatively small amount of money. I know it's one or more foundations, not individuals, not corporations. And there were organizations that support things like legal aid to being with. But I don't know how the details were put together.
Question: And on former Deputy Commissioner Morales, part of what he said yesterday was that he's not looking for a pay-day. He actually just wants his job back. Would you be willing to give him his job back?
Mayor: No. It's a performance question.
Unknown: Last two.
Question: Question for Commissioner O'Neill. Last [inaudible] there was an email apparently sent by someone in your department ordering the police to sweep two subway stations for homeless people ahead of the Mayor's visit. Have you confirmed whether that email was sent, why it was sent, and if so, if it violates protocol have you issued any clarification of what the protocol should be?
Commissioner O'Neill: So, I talked about this the other day. This was a sergeant trying his best to do a good job. We did – Transit Bureau personnel do station inspections all the time. We inspected a few stations. We – I think there was one homeless person found and we offered services. She did not take them. This is – there's a security component of this also. We knew the Mayor was coming. There's a security component. He's after all the Mayor of New York City. This is something that we do all the time. This is – there's no ramifications against the sergeant. He was trying his best to do his job, and you know I commend him for that. Is the wording the best? Probably not. Probably not. But there's a person that's looking to do his best for the New York City Police Department and for the city.
Mayor: Okay, you had something before, and then Marcia –
Question: [Inaudible] cops were at the door, did the mother tell them that her son had [inaudible]?
Chief Monahan: No, she just opened the door, ran to the back, and said, "He's back here. He's back here."
Question: [Inaudible] on route to the scene, were they notified –
Commissioner O'Neill: It did not come over as a violent EDP. ESU monitors all emotionally disturbed person jobs, and if they're needed, if it becomes violent, then they are called in. So, they were not in the process of responding.
Question: Two police questions – updates on the woman who was apparently injected with some kind of chemical –
Commissioner O'Neill: Chief Boyce will take care of that –
Question: And the package that was –
Commissioner O'Neill: Okay, Chief Boyce can take are of both of those, Marcia.
NYPD Chief of Detectives, Bob Boyce: Good afternoon, all. Manhattan South detectives were notified on the 28th which was Friday of an unusual death of a 31-year-old female up in Manhattan. As we started looking at this we quickly found out that on July 15th she went to St. Luke's Hospital being treated for dizziness.
She soon went into a coma and was put on life support. We spoke to everybody with her at that time. So, we went back a certain time. She was put on life support a few hours after she got there. So, she was on life support for almost ten days.
So, our detectives peeled this thing back. They went and they found out that she had gone on the 15th of the month to a location in the 13th Precinct to get plastic surgery done. We feel this is what happened to her. It was a botched plastic surgery. She was getting augmentation to her buttocks and she was given some injections.
We then identified the location and we did a search warrant on that, the 29th, the next day. We found surgical supplies that were indicative of some kind of surgery being performed as well as some drugs like lidocaine and other things as well.
We identified a couple of individuals involved. This morning – I should say presently, we're doing an autopsy on that young lady. Her name is Latesha Bynum. We're looking at her now to see exactly what happened with her. We believe this is because of that botched surgery [inaudible]. So, we'll know more as we go forward. We have everybody identified who were players in this.
She went willingly. She got word of this location from another friend of hers who had it done in February.
This happens, Marcia, unfortunately, a couple of times a year where we have these kinds of surgeries gone bad. These are not doctors. They should not be doing this.
Chief Boyce: There's a strong possibility of arrest, yes. But I'll know more – I don't have a homicide. I don't know what the exact cause of death is until the autopsy is completed.
In regards to your other questions about the package – the device in the 1-0-5 Precinct. This was sent there sometime on Tuesday, the 25th. It was placed on the porch in a plastic bag – clear plastic bag.
And this is a – this was placed in a, what you would call a tubing that people use to send packages in the mail – generally speaking, paper and things of that nature – conical, twelve inches by about four inches wide.
Our investigation now is on this – it was flash powder that created this with no shrapnel. Flash powder is something used in pyrotechnics. It creates an incendiary flame. That's what covered Mr. Ray, and that's where 80 percent of his body is covered with second-degree burns.
He's struggling for his life right now. Hopefully – our prayers are with him – he makes it.
So, right now our investigation is complex. There's a lot going on. We have the FBI involved. They initially responded. We have video on the block. We're speaking to people in the area. Two families in the house. We're trying to find exactly who was the intended target right now.
If it was – I spoke Friday afternoon, this was directly after it happened – there was a lot of stuff left on the crime scene. So, we have a lot of strong leads in this and we'll go forward that way.
Question: [Inaudible] motive?
Chief Boyce: We will not know a motive until we have the target.
Mayor: Okay, thanks everyone. Thank you.