October 6, 2021
Video available at: https://youtu.be/503V0Xnnwkc
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. The recovery of New York City continues. It's deepening every day. It's going to be a recovery for all of us. I've said many times recovery equals safety, safety equals recovery. The more we recover, the more life comes back to normal, as much as it can. The more we have the activity, the energy, the jobs, the more safe we'll be. It helps to create a better environment for all of us. In fact, it helps our police officers. When our society gets back to normal. And to help our society get back to normal we have to constantly deepen our efforts for public safety. This is the way back. So many other things we're doing, obviously vaccinations lead the way in all our strategies, but making the city safer every day as part of the recovery as well. We have been for many, many years, and we will continue to be, the safest big city in America because of the extraordinary efforts of the men and women of the NYPD and the extraordinary efforts of community members who are doing more and more to help make sure their own communities are safe. And to find new ways to work in the community and also in so many cases in partnership and collaboration with NYPD. Sharing of information and approaches that helps us move forward.
Summer – every summer is always the toughest time of the year when it comes to stopping crime and violence. We have the Safe Summer NYC initiative. It made a big difference. It did not mean that everything was perfect, it wasn't. There are real challenges – the summer and real challenges ahead, particularly in certain parts of the city. We've talked about that before. But we saw some real impact. And it's important now that we're looking back June, July, August, September, all the summer months, we can make some additional conclusions about what happened as a result of those strategies. Let's compare this last September. Just last month, September 2021 to September 2020. Murder down 23.7 percent. Burglary down 15.8 percent. Shootings down 8.7 percent. Shooting victims down 4.4 percent. Overall index crime down year to date compared to last year, lowest point in three decades.
Let's look at some of these examples. The robbery rate year-to-date, lowest point in the last three decades. Felony crime rate year-to-date, lowest point in the last three decades. Misdemeanor crime, lowest point in the last three decades. Major property felony crime, lowest point in the last three decades. Look we got a lot more to do, but what's clear is not just what's been done since the pandemic began, but the years and years before – the 25 years-plus since CompStat began, but also the efforts that we undertook in our first six years with neighborhood policing. All of this laid a foundation that is continuing to make us safer. Even if there's challenges, we have to overcome. And we do have to overcome them. But we want to take stock of the things that are working. And one of the most extraordinary examples is the level of gun arrests.
Yesterday, a major takedown of a gun trafficking ring – NYPD, DA’s, federal officials, all working together. Very, very powerful, but look at the overall reality with the gun arrests up 20 percent year-to-date. 20 percent more-gun arrests, extraordinary activity, extraordinary success by the men and women of the NYPD. It is not easy. As the Commissioner will attest, a gun arrest is a very difficult thing to do. But the numbers have been outstanding even in the toughest of circumstances. And now look at shootings and put it in historical perspective. Shootings, the shooting rate, I'm sorry, year to date per 100,000 New Yorkers is similar to where we were right before this administration 2009 to 2012. Lower than the decades before that. We want to get it back to where we were up in 2018, 2019. The success we had seen steady. We want to get back to that.
And we're starting to see in parts of the city, getting back to those 2019 levels. We know we can do that and ultimately surpass it. It's a typical thing out there for certain folks to doubt New York City or to doubt our ability to make a comeback or doubt the NYPD but the facts speak for themselves. Even in the most extraordinarily difficult circumstance. Total disruption of our society because of a global pandemic – unprecedented. The NYPD has fought back. Neighborhood folks have fought back. The City has fought back and we're seeing it in so many ways. We're seeing the city come back to life – the jobs coming back; obviously, our schools are back full strength. All of this helps us to be safer.
Now, let's talk about different parts of the city. Brooklyn, my borough that I love deeply – Brooklyn historically had profound challenges. But what we now seen is that Brooklyn South has returned to 2019 shooting levels. Brooklyn North is better than what we saw last year, working its way towards an even better place. Brooklyn North has been a powerful success story. Historically one of the toughest parts of the city in terms of shootings and violence, real progress there. So, the shootings from June to September 2020 compared to June to September 2021 cut in half. We still have a lot to do, but cut in half – 382 versus 198. Again, working our way back to those 2019 levels. That's the success story that we've seen in Brooklyn. Queens, South Queens, North, were hit very hard by COVID. Hit hard by the violence that came out of the COVID era. But they are returning to the 2019 levels, when we were doing so much better. There's great success stories in Brooklyn, in Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan South.
Where are the problems still? The Bronx and Manhattan North. And Commissioner Shea, Chief Harrison, have been very open about that. All the additional resources and strategies that are being brought to bear in the Bronx and Manhattan North, that's where the focus is. But as I turn to the Commissioner, I want to be clear. There's a lot to do, and we will not rest until we get to the 2019 levels and even better. But I also think it's time for people to stop for a moment and say, thank you to the men and women of the NYPD who have done something extraordinary under very, very adverse circumstances. And who are really turning the tide in a profoundly important way. And have rebuilt that bond with the community. And the thanks to all the community members who have been working with the NYPD. Thanks to all the violence interrupters who have been stopping shootings before they happen. There's something powerful happening that will help us build the way to a much safer New York City in the future. And certainly, will be the foundation of our comeback. With that, I want you to hear from the man who has been leading this effort throughout this pandemic. Did not expect this to be part of his job description, but has persevered and my pleasure to introduce Commissioner Dermot Shea.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea: That is absolutely true. That was not in the forecast.
Mayor: Not part of the interview process, right?
Commissioner Shea: As we head into the last quarter of 2021, there's a lot of positives. A lot of work to do, for sure. But as I've said the last couple months – September, we were down in shootings, we were down in homicides. That makes the fourth month in a row that we've been able to turn the tide on those shootings. So, a lot of work needs to be done still. But as we head into the last quarter of 2021, knowing what the goal is, still, to be down in shootings for the year and to continue to chip away at that number.
The good news is that we have a lot of help, as the Mayor said. We have neighborhoods across New York City rallying around their police department and that is very positive. We have officers on the streets every day and detectives continuing to make gun arrests. When you look at the gun arrest levels that were made in September of 2021, it's the second highest number in 25 years. So, that is absolutely a positive. When you look at the overall crime rate, what we did see a spike in, particularly in the month of September, is felony assaults. And the felony assault level was up 19 percent, but a lot of positives, a lot of good work being done. When you look at the case that came down yesterday, we highlighted Mr. Mayor, working with Cy Vance and the Manhattan DA's office, undercover officers, going into the streets of New York City, purchasing guns to make sure that guns don't wind up in the hands of criminals that are hurting New Yorkers. So, a lot of good work on that. And I would just like to highlight, again, some of the work that we're doing with the youth across the city – schools have back in and that's some great news. Schools are back in session. It's important that the NYPD continues as we head into the last quarter of 2021 to finish this year, very strong. So, we're continuing our Blue Chips program. We're continuing our Saturday Night Lights program. We have plans to open three more courts. So, all of this is part of an overarching strategy to make sure that we do everything possible for the kids. So, we're finishing 2021, exactly how we started 2020, and we've remained committed to that very, very important function. So, I look forward to the questions.
Mayor: Thank you so much, Commissioner. I want to amplify that last point. I remember we were at the Museum of Natural History. And a day that seemed very normal, and we did not know what was about to hit us in the beginning of 2020, and I gave my State of the City remarks. And I highlighted in those remarks the vision Commissioner Shea had for the NYPD, engaging youth in a whole new way. And proactively and helping young people who are trending towards the wrong influences. Towards gangs and crews, helping them to the right path. Working with families, working with schools, working with houses of worship. Powerful vision that got started. And then we got hit by a global pandemic. Nonetheless, this summer in particular, you saw that vision start to come back to life. We were together on some of the basketball courts that the NYPD refurbished for communities, particularly in public housing that was deeply appreciated.
I saw cops and kids playing ball together. A lot of good stuff happening to deepen that vision. That now we'll be able, as we get the city safer and safer, as we come out of the COVID era that focus on youth is going to be so much of what the NYPD does going forward. And it's going to, it's going to be the right thing to do, but it's also going to pay off in so many ways in terms of reducing crime and violence. So, we're going to stay on that path and we're going to stay on the path we've been on for years and years as the safest big city in America. Because even with the challenges, when you look at what's happening around the country, the NYPD did an amazing job. Community partners did amazing job. The city has been surpassing so many other cities in our comeback, including in addressing for crime and violence in overcoming crime and violence.
Our murder rate, one murder is one to many, but our murder rate looks back to the fifties and sixties. Again, we are going to be able to push that down further as we normalize, as our society comes back. And we all know we've talked about this last week. And I feel bad, the other cities are going through much worse. But when you compare New York City and our murder rate to Houston, Phoenix, LA Philly, Chicago, Houston. I mentioned just, I'm sorry that we clearly are in a better place in so many other places that are struggling. We're in a better place than the national average. We got a lot to do, but something is happening that really needs to be appreciated. because it means lives are being saved.
And talking about saving lives and saving souls. I want to turn to someone who's doing amazing work. He is a renowned leader in this city in terms of the larger work of the cure violence movement and the crisis management system. He's someone who speaks from the perspective of faith, but also spends so much time in the streets of the community, engaging young people, helping to turn them to the right path. Stopping crime and violence before it happens. And he's really one of the great examples in this city of what community leaders can do to turn the tide and create a new reality in their neighborhoods. The organization he's affiliated with, popularly known as the God Squad, and their work is legendary. My great pleasure to introduce. from Brooklyn, Pastor Gil Monrose.
Mayor: Thank you so much, Pastor. And really, really want to thank you for the work that you are doing and your colleagues in the God Squad are doing. You are saving lives. It is an example to this whole city. So, God bless you for everything you are doing.
Pastor Gil Monrose: Thank you so much.
Mayor: So, the God Squad is out there, the clergy is out there, Cure Violence movement, Crisis Management System, violence interrupters, all out there on the front lines, working to stop violence every day. NYPD officers, every day out there protecting us. Record number of gun arrests, working incredibly hard, even in the midst of crisis. Even on the backend of our criminal justice system, jails, prisons, even with all the challenges, they continue to operate obviously. The whole society, the schools are back full. Almost every part of our society is operating on full strength. But there's one conspicuous absence, our court system. I've made this point before and we're not seeing enough progress. So, it's time to talk about it again. My message to the court system is do your job, come back fully, we need you now. We cannot get safer without you.
Let's look at the numbers. Court system is not moving forward. It's just the fact. Trials are down 92 percent compared to pre pandemic levels. Pleas are down 55 percent. This is not acceptable. We can't create the safety we need for New Yorkers if there's not a functioning court system. I've said it so many times. The folks at the court system love to give excuses and they love to say, it's okay they're not working. I'd say if it's okay you're not working, why do we have a court system to begin with? If it's so irrelevant, why do we have it? They need to get back to work right now. Stop the excuses. Stop accepting every little protest from every place else. Lay down the law, bring everyone back. 1,500 people right now, 1,500 are in custody at Rikers awaiting trial. For over one year, 1,500 who have been waiting for over a year because the court system is not functioning they continue to wait. So, we've asked for help from district attorneys. They've answered our call. As I said, police are there every single time. We need the courts to do their job now.
We got good news from the State, an executive order. They expanded virtual court appearances. That was last week. That was great. Additional tool in the arsenal, but court appearances aren't happening at the level they need to. Here's this new tool. Now the court needs to do something with it. The court system needs to do something with it. So, here's what I'm calling on the Office of Court Administration to do. Calendar a thousand more appearances a week. We have the ability to do them virtually in so many cases. Calendar a thousand more appearances per week, do it immediately so we can work off this backlog and move forward. In the absence of that, we can't make the city as safe as it deserves to be. I want you to hear from someone who works at the frontline as well, in a community that has really struggled with the challenges of crime and violence. And she knows that if there's not a functioning court system, her neighborhoods can't be as safe as they deserve to be. My pleasure to introduce Council Member Darma Diaz from Brooklyn.
Thank you so much, Council Member. You said it well. We need them back. We do, we respect and value everyone in the criminal justice system, but we just want equality and parody. Cops are out there doing their jobs. Community members are out there helping. Everyone's doing their job except the court system. Time to come back fully, no more excuses.
Let's go over today's indicators. And the first one again, shows why we're coming back. Doses administered to date, 11,613,686. These are staggering numbers, by far the biggest vaccination effort in New York City history, growing every day. Number two, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19. Today's report, 207 patients. Confirmed positivity level of 11.34 percent. Hospitalization rate. Here's the big number, of hospitalization rate per 100,000, 0.85 percent. This is such a positive trend we're seeing here, such a good thing we're seeing. It's all about vaccination. And number three, new reported cases on a seven-day average. Today’s report 1,122 cases. I’ll say a few words in Spanish, and of course the topic is public safety.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, let's turn to our colleagues in the media. And please let me know the name and outlet of each journalist.
Moderator: Good morning. We will now begin our Q-and0A. As a reminder, we are joined by Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, Dr. Mitch Katz, Dr. Andrew Wallach, and Director of MOCJ Marcus Soler. Our first question today goes to Marcia from WCBS.
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. I wonder how you're doing today?
Mayor: I am doing well. How you been, Marcia?
Question: I’m okay. So, my question today, since you've been talking for days now about vaccine and vaccine mandates and how successful it is in protecting the city, I wonder if you're going to extend the vaccine mandate to police, firefighters, and Department of Correction personnel, because that would also help to make the public more safe?
Mayor: Marcia, great question. And this is what we're going to be discussing in the days ahead. Obviously, our attention very much in the last couple of weeks was on winning those court cases, which were necessary to protect all the mandates we already have. Making sure that our single biggest agency by far, Department of Education, applied those mandates effectively. We're really happy with that. 95 percent of department education employees who are now vaccinated, huge deal. Making our schools safe, making our kids safe. Now we're going to turn our attention to all the other pieces of the puzzle. That's what we're talking about over the coming days and stay tuned for updates. Go ahead, Marcia.
Question: The question would be directed towards you and towards the Police Commissioner in terms of also vaccine mandates, whether he thinks it's a good idea for a vaccine mandate for the Police Department? And whether the police union contracts and the union contracts of all the other City employees like firefighters, et cetera, allow you to impose a mandate?
Mayor: I'll start and I'll turn to the Commissioner. The courts have been abundantly clear. State level, federal level, multiple courts, and multiple levels that as employers, we have a right to keep everyone safe. And we made very clear we're going to work with every union on the details. We had an extensive process with a number of unions. We had an arbitration process. But the broad point, without deciding yet what our next steps are going to be, the broad point, the courts have said it is our right as employers to do this in the context of a global pandemic. Commissioner, over to you.
Commissioner Shea: Yeah, Marcia. I've been on the record for a long time on this. I think, you know, my personal opinion would be when you look at the Police Department as part of an overall City workforce, I think it was cleaner to do one, from 30,000 feet, one broad affecting all. One thing I didn't want to do is put one policy for the Police Department and then that's counter to other agencies. So, I would be supportive of a vaccine mandate. I've said that from day one. I think that the science, to health, the emergency situation that we're in, it makes sense. Currently we're at 68 percent of our workforce. So, our current mandate is either be vaccinated or you submit to the testing and prove that you tested once within seven days. So, we're complying with that.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead.
Moderator: Our next question goes to James from PIX 11.
Mayor: James, you there? James?
Mayor: Can you hear me? Wait, we heard your voice for a moment. James? James?
Question: I've been having some audio issues in the last few minutes.
Mayor: Well, we can hear you great.
Question: Can you hear me alright?
Mayor: I can hear you great. Can you hear me?
Question: Oh, great. Okay. Now I hear you. Yes. Okay, great. So, I'll just jump into the questions. Good morning. We've gotten a variety of complaints from non-teaching DOE employees like social workers and guidance counselors who've been reassigned to classrooms to replace unvaccinated teachers and other classroom personnel who are now on leave due to the mandate. Even though the reassigned people aren't trained to be in classrooms. Can you respond to their concerns that the students are being shortchanged with this situation? As well as their concerns that the situation may be long-term not temporary?
Mayor: No, it's not long-term. Yeah. I mean, it depends on every individual case. Ultimately, obviously every student's going to have an appropriate teacher. Schools sometimes make very temporary moves if they have a particular need they have to cover. But no, we've been really clear. We have plenty of substitute teachers, but more importantly, the teachers that were there to begin with, 96 percent as of this moment. 96 percent of all teachers got vaccinated. As you've heard, some are now making the decision, even if they didn't originally, to get vaccinated, come back. We've got a huge number of vaccinated substitutes. So, if there's any situation you want to share with our team, we'll follow up. But no, we're going to have educators where they need to be. And we've got plenty of people to work with. Go ahead, James.
Question: Okay. Thank you. And just a change of topic here. For yourself, and I hope for Commissioner Shea, shootings are down but there is a shooting situation in Harlem this morning at 147th, I believe near Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. In which a suspect has fired at police officers.Can you and the Commissioner provide more information about the situation and respond to the fact that it is a shooting in which officers may be targeted?
Mayor: The Commissioner gave me an initial briefing before the press conference, but he may have more up-to-date information now, Commissioner.
Commissioner Shea: So, I could tell you that as we're sitting here, I'm actually communicating with Chief Rodney Harrison who's on scene. Members of our Warrant Squad were attempting to make an apprehension this morning at a 200 West – in the vicinity of 200 West 147th, as you said, by Adam Clayton Powell. That's within the confines of the 32nd precinct up in Harlem. They encountered an individual, who at this time, and this is all very preliminary, fired at our offices, and we have at least one officer that returned fire. At this point in time, we don't believe anyone was hit on either side. The individual is located within an apartment. The people in that building are safe. We have Hostage Negotiation in route, and we have the area cordoned off. So, we would ask anyone in that building to just stay inside, and we will hopefully resolve this situation as quickly as possible, peacefully.
Mayor: Thank you, Commissioner. Go ahead.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Andrew from WNBC.
Question: Mayor, you have said in recent days [inaudible] stay in public service. The New York Times is reporting today that you have been telling a number of people close to you that you are indeed planning a run for Governor. What can you tell us about what you've told those supporters, particularly the Hotel Trades Council?
Mayor: Andrew, I've talked to a number of people to say, I want to continue in public service. There's a lot to do. Look I'm not going to make any political announcements. I'm only making a broad point, for the last year and a half I've had to lead the nation's largest city through the COVID crisis. I'm very proud of what the people the city has done. I'm very proud of what this city government has done to fight back COVID and move us forward. I got a lot to offer. I want to do more in public service, how that's going to play out there's time to figure out, but that's my goal. Go ahead, Andrew.
Question: Time to figure it out in your mind, or for New Yorkers who are following the final three months of your administration here, how much time is there for you to figure that out?
Mayor: You know, Andrew, I don't look at it according to some traditional notion. I think the most important thing to do is do the work. Every single day my job is to protect New Yorkers, overcome COVID, which the city is doing brilliantly, foster recovery, improve the safety and health reality all over the city, that's what we're doing. That's my focus. The future takes care of itself in so many ways. I really believe that. So, this is what I’m going to be doing, and as we get farther down the line, when I have something more to say, I will certainly let you know.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Juliet from 1010 WINS.
Question: Hi, good morning, everyone. This question for you, Mr. Mayor, and Commissioner Shea. I know Commissioner, you didn't make reference to this yesterday at the news conference with the gun take down, what is your concern about ghost guns? I understand more have been confiscated by the NYPD so far this year than all of last year. What is your concern about them?
Mayor: Go ahead.
Commissioner Shea: Specifically, Juliet, with ghost guns, it's just another obstacle that we have to face, you know, Cy spoke about this yesterday very eloquently, we need help with the guns, clearly, and I would be a voice for that, and I've said it many times, I'll go to Washington, I'll go to any pulpit and say that we need better controls for the flow of guns. It's – to me, it's crazy that people can buy guns so easily, repeatedly, and then bring them into neighborhoods where they are devastating neighborhoods. So, we need common sense looks at all of these existing laws and ghost guns is now another ripple where that's sort of a loophole that has evolved in the last couple of years, and it's not unique to New York City, but I would just say Juliet, the crisis, as I said, last week is all about guns. We need to – when you look at the incident unfolding now, you have detectives up in Harlem putting their life on the line, trying to take a dangerous person off the street. We had an individual last weekend arrested Friday, saw the judge Saturday, released, and arrested Sunday again with a gun. Two days – twice in three days.
We need to recalibrate, I believe, how we look at guns across the criminal justice system. If we get it right, we could drive incarceration down and drive public safety up, but we have to hold people accountable for carrying illegal guns. We have the toughest gun laws – the laws are not the problem on the possession side. We have the toughest laws, some of them in the country, mandatory three-and-a-half-year minimum, but they're not treated that way once they get into the criminal justice system. So, right now we're waiting for somebody with a gun to shoot somebody, and then we treat it serious. It's backwards. We need judges when they have a defendant come in front of them in the court, weigh the impact on that defendant and what incarceration is going to mean, but also way what it's going to mean for the kids, and mothers, and parents, and workers in the community that have to deal with that gun carrying person walking around, and I think it's off.
Mayor: And look, Juliet, the Commissioner made the point that the gun laws – the strong laws we have in this City and State benefit the NYPD constantly. It's scary to think that there's efforts being made now potentially at the Supreme Court of the United States to water down our laws, make it easier for people to get guns and carry guns. But the point the Commissioner made, just some commonsense improvements in our national gun safety laws. I'm talking about changes that have overwhelming support, a vast majority of Americans who want smart background checks and the kinds of things that will keep guns out of the hands of folks who have done a lot of harm and could do a lot more. We can still get there. I really believe it. That would benefit the men and women in NYPD greatly to have that kind of backup from the federal level. Go ahead, Juliet.
Question: Yeah. On another topic, motorized bikes, you know, in most cases that I've observed, there is just no adherence to traffic lights or signs, they go the wrong way on one-way streets. I know, you know, they're being taken and crushed, but that's after the fact, this is about how they operate. Do you think they're actually safe being able to just go wherever they want? They're not licensed or insured. They're not subjected to speed cameras or red-light cameras. So how does any of that makes sense?
Mayor: I'll start and I'll turn to the Commissioner, Juliet. It's a great question. Look, I think there's a real challenge there that needs to be addressed. The – no, it's not okay to go the wrong way on the street. It's not okay to drive recklessly. I believe in Vision Zero, and I think from a Vision Zero perspective, having more controls is better. Making sure that, for example, with the kind of vehicles that could cause real harm, I think we do need to look at registering folks, licensing folks, doing things that are going to make it more formal because it is too reckless at this point. I also think – we very much believe in enforcement, the challenge in the pandemic era has been having to deal with so many different needs simultaneously, and obviously having to turn the tide on the violence that we've seen all over the country. I believe that tide is being turned right now and that's going to allow more and more NYPD attention to go into things like Vision Zero and quality of life crime. That's what we really want to address, ultimately, when we can get these other issues addressed. So, I am sympathetic to the point you're raising that we're going to have to do some things differently going forward. Commissioner.
Commissioner Shea: Yeah. I agree with everything that the Mayor said there, and I'll tell you personally, and this will probably annoy some people, but I worry more when I step off the street at what's coming left and right, and it's not cars at this point in time. And I think a lot of people share that view. I ride a bike ever increasingly, I love it. I love riding around the city. I think the bike lanes have really created opportunities for people to get out there and do more. But right now, I think it's probably a good opportunity to like take stock of where we are right now it's – I'll tell you from the policing side, it's very complicated between electric and gas and different sizes and throttles. There's probably, you know, an opportunity there to really look at the entire landscape and how do we accomplish what everyone wants but do it a little more safely.
Mayor: Thank you.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Chris from the Daily News.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor, how are you doing today?
Mayor: I'm doing well, Chris, how about you?
Question: I am good. I wanted to ask you about vaccine mandates, again, like you were saying, you're looking at the possibility and saying that you will have news over the next few days as it relates to a mandate for FDNY, NYPD, and DOC, I'm wondering, what's holding you back from implementing such mandates immediately, especially given that you prevailed in court on this?
Mayor: Chris look, I think everyone out there as mature adults, I'd like to respect people's intelligence. We have, I think pretty meticulously in the course of the pandemic, tried to figure out what made sense to do when and made sure we had all the pieces in place. I do believe you sequence things in different ways and there's still issues that we have to understand better and resolve. So, it's not always a matter of, you know, just push a button. You have to get things right. So, we're looking at it right now, we're looking at different options, other types of things we can do, and we'll have more to say in the coming days. Go ahead, Chris.
Question: Thank you, and a question for Commissioner Shea. I wanted to ask the Commissioner about Sergeant Ed Mullins and whether he has any insights into what Sergeant Mullins is being investigated for by the FBI? And separately wanted to ask the Commissioner if you agree with the Mayor that Sergeant Mullins has dishonored his uniform and that it was right for him to resign as President of the SBA.
Mayor: And I will only say before the Commissioner speaks Chris, because I want you – you did accurately note part of my comment. My bigger comment between the press conference yesterday and then later hearing about his arrest and commenting online, look, I think – I don't know what the specific arrest is for, but I do know this is someone who attempted consistently to divide this city, who used a language that was disrespectful, that often created a divisive atmosphere, that did not comport with being a representative of this city. And now on top of it, obviously there's something else going on. So, I want to be clear that my comments predated anything with the FBI. I think what's happened here and the fact that his own union immediately demanded he resigned is quite an obvious statement. Go ahead, Commissioner.
Commissioner Shea: Yeah. Thank you for the question. So, on Sergeant Mullins, what I will say is to the – you know, referencing the Mayor's earlier comments before yesterday, we have a discipline system in the NYPD while I am the final arbiter. So, commenting on ongoing cases when I will be the final person to meet out or not discipline, I think would be inappropriate. So, I will defer that. He has scheduled several infractions that have occurred that is ongoing in the NYPD trial [inaudible] that has been scheduled out. So, when those trials occur and when it comes to me, I will make an ultimate decision at the end. Regarding yesterday's incident with the FBI, I would just – what I will say on this is that the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau and the FBI work jointly on a task force. As a result of that work, you saw some of the investigative powers being exercised yesterday. It is an ongoing case and I will not comment any farther beyond that.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead.
Moderator: Our next question goes to Elizabeth from Gothamist.
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: Hey, Elizabeth. How have you been?
Question: Good. At the risk of sort of repeating some of the other reporters, I do want to press you on the mandates. You have your police commissioner here, who has said – has been very clear and vocal that he supports a mandate. Given the size of the NYPD workforce, their presence in communities, why not do – start with an NYPD vaccine mandate?
Mayor: Hey, Elizabeth, I'm – you have every right to press, that's your job. But I have every right to tell you that we make these decisions very carefully with a lot of factors in mind. And look, I like our batting average so far. We very carefully structured the vaccinate or test mandate, then sequenced that to the mandate for our public schools, which has obviously gone very, very well. Everything is about doing things in a particular manner, if you want to get the best outcomes. So, that's what we're examining right now. And again, when we're ready to say it, when we believe we have something, whatever the approach is, we will. But it's just not as simple as, again, push a button and everything moves the way you want. We’ve got to set up any approach we take meticulously. Go ahead, Elizabeth.
Question: Secondly, I'd like to ask you and the Commissioner to explain what are some of the challenges in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan that have made it difficult to achieve the same, you know, progress in reducing shootings as in other parts of the city?
Mayor: It's a very powerful question, Elizabeth. I'll start. Look, what we saw was, again, just a horrible dislocation last year. And the comeback from that really does depend on things like schools being open, jobs coming back, activity in communities. You know, that really is part of how you put back down the crime and get people back into other lifestyles, give them other alternatives, or whatever it may be. But also, I would say we've seen some outstanding efforts on the ground in certain precincts and certain commands that have really been notable. We've seen some particular focal points in terms of the community-based approaches to violence. Again, the story in Brooklyn, a lot of different pieces to it, but something powerful is happening that we're obviously going to try and emulate other places. And then, there's the gang takedowns – and where those happen, they have a profound impact. But we need more, we need a lot more of them. And from my vantage point, as a civilian, the Bronx and Northern Manhattan are two places where we're going to have to go deeper on gun arrests, deeper on gang takedowns, deeper on collaboration with the community. This has just been particularly a tough circumstance we're going to have to dig into more. Commissioner?
Commissioner Shea: Yeah. It's a very good question. I would just caution anyone to single out just two – I mean, it is fluid. So, in my world, you see spikes that we have – we respond to on a day-to-day basis. And it's down to the level of, really, blocks. You know, we've seen a couple of shootings this week and the 114 Precinct in Queensbridge, in Astoria. We've seen some shootings this week in Brooklyn. You know, certainly the Bronx, as a year, they're up about a hundred shootings, that has been a stubborn spot. You know, I could go neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block. What exactly causes it? The one thing I will zero in on is, from our world, you know, we do a lot of different things. We do the outreach. We do the work with communities, clergy. We haven't spoken about clergy today, really important. Getting the guns off the street – we're getting the guns off the street in the Bronx. We have higher numbers than I've ever seen. But that example I said a couple of minutes ago was in the Bronx – well, actually, I didn't mention it – another young kid caught with a gun yesterday on the same corner that we had youth violence recently. I think the gang takedowns in Brooklyn have had a really positive impact, particularly this year – cases that we had stacked up since last year. But there's a lot of different variables behind this. We’ll get the Bronx turned around, same thing with Manhattan, but there's a lot of work to be done, for sure.
Mayor: And finishing, stating the obvious, Elizabeth, every borough, particularly the Bronx, would be so much better if we had a functioning court system. Because, again, we're just not getting the pressure we need, the good pressure, the sense of consequence. We cannot finish this mission until we have a fully functioning court system and that is one of the underlying issues that still just not getting addressed. And I don’t understand it. You know, the courts, they put out press releases and they’re wonderful statements, but they don't do the job. If the rest of us just didn't show up and do our job, you guys would be all over us. Well, time to be all over them to do their job.
Moderator: We have time for two more questions today. The next question goes to Yoav from The City.
Question: Good morning, everyone. I wanted to ask the Commissioner about Sergeant Hugh Barry’s administrative trial. As you're aware, Sergeant Berry killed civilian Deborah Danner five years ago, that was October 2016. There was a criminal trial that delayed things, but he was acquitted three-and-a-half years ago in February 2018. So, Commissioner, why has it taken so long to schedule his administrative trial? And I would add, Mr. Mayor, you're being highly critical of the criminal court system, but the NYPD the administrative trial system is your responsibility. So, why is it – why have so many of the cases, particularly the ones involving the killing of civilians, taking so long to adjudicate?
Mayor: Yoav, I'll make a simple statement. One, I want it to go faster and, in recent years, we've seen real improvement in the timing. Two, the mistake that I believe – the fundamental mistake here have talked about many times publicly in relation to other cases is that the history was, defer to other prosecutions and not move the departmental charges while other prosecutions were going on. Obviously, this individual had a separate trial in the court system. I think that creates a tremendous frustration in the public that someone languishes, continues to be paid, when what we should be doing increasingly – and we're starting to do this more and more – is just start the internal departmental charges at the first available opportunity, regardless of what's going on in the court system. Now, I'll tell you, prosecutors will tell you that they don't want that. They'd rather we held back. That's what happened in some of the most prominent cases, we held back and deferred to prosecution. But I think it's just an untenable situation. Go ahead, Commissioner.
Commissioner Shea: Yeah. Yoav, thanks for the question. There's a lot to unpack there. When we hold our department trials in One Police Plaza, they generally come from two streams. The majority come from the – internally from the NYPD where we identify something, whether it's a rules infraction, or something else, and we prosecute ourselves. It's done through Deputy Commissioner Amy Litwin, who was an ex-prosecutor from the Bronx, I believe, and she does a phenomenal job. We also have a stream of cases that come from CCRB. Those are outside the NYPD’s control and those cases are prosecuted by the unit within CCRB to prosecute. That trial is scheduled. It was scheduled for this month, I believe. And, you know, we always want things to move as efficiently as possible, but that trial is coming up. I will say, Yoav, I thank you for bringing up the juxtaposition, if you will, of the criminal court cases versus the NYPD’s and bringing up that this is under the purview of the Mayor. But I'll defend the Mayor on this one, that it's interesting to me that the NYPD during a pandemic and continuing into this year have somehow been able to manage and keep open our internal trial room and try cases where cops do wrong, but yet we can't do that in the criminal court system.
Mayor: Thank you very much. Yoav, go ahead.
Question: Okay. Thank you. I'm going to switch gears for my second question. I asked you, I think it was a week or two ago, about your schedule and the First Lady's schedule online haven't been updated since April 2020 – that hasn't been updated since. Similarly, as part of a transparency gesture, you were posting your meetings with registered lobbyists online – that has also not been updated since April 2020. So, can we expect that to be updated soon?
Mayor: Yeah, you can. And I'm going to find out what happened. I don't get into these mechanics, obviously, but I want us to continue with what we have done in the past. And I'm sure everything was dislocated by the COVID crisis, but let's figure out how we can fix that. Thank you.
Question: Our last question for today goes to Gersh from Streetsblog.
Question: Hey, thanks for taking the question. Appreciate that. Hello to everyone on the call. This is actually for Commissioner Shea, if that's alright. Earlier in this session, you said you were more worried about bike riders than car drivers, causing violence on the streets of New York City. It's kind of an odd comment for a Vision Zero partner to make, given the drivers have killed more than 190 people this year and have caused more than 50,000 crashes so far this year, that's roughly 200 crashes every single day in New York City. At the same time, the NYPD's effort to reign in reckless drivers has weakened. Even as the Mayor has called for more enforcement against reckless drivers, there's actually less enforcement. In June 2021, which is the last month for which there are full-month stats, officer's citywide wrote just 39,000 moving violation tickets, which is down 51 percent from the same month two years earlier; failure to yield tickets are down 55 percent; speeding tickets down 35 percent; improper turn tickets are down 72 percent. So, the question is, can you explain this fear of bikes that you have, which is not born out by City stats or your own weakening NYPD effort?
Mayor: Gersh, I'll start, and I have to finish quickly, because I'm supposed to be at a memorial event soon. Look, the Commissioner will speak to his own comments, but I'd like to speak to his actions and the department's actions. The department clearly, strongly, vehemently believes in Vision Zero and helped pioneer Vision Zero, starting eight years ago. So, I appreciate, honestly, your speech, but you're – in the end, the facts are quite clear. We also – and I've said it – had massive disruption from a global pandemic that did take some energy and focus off of certain types of enforcement, unquestionably. We want to get it back. We're dealing with some other issues that are profound. We need to get more and more energy back to Vision Zero enforcement, but also we've got to deal with some other problems that came out of this pandemic. Lastly, we’ve got to get people out of their cars and back into mass transit, something that you and I both agree on, and we're seeing some progress on that front. So, more enforcement will be coming, particularly as we more successfully address some of the other issues we talked about earlier today. Commissioner?
Commissioner Shea: Yeah. Gersh, thanks for the question. So, what the comment was, was not particularly bikes. What I said was, when I step off the curb, I am more concerned right now – and this is a fact – with what's coming from the left, the right and every different direction, seemingly disobeying all manner of traffic control devices. What I am seeing lately is more bicycles, scooters, dirt bikes, skateboards with engines on them, and I could go on and on – I think New Yorkers see it too – that are not stopping at stop signs, going the wrong way in bike lanes, and I could go on. So, that's what I was referring to.
Mayor: Thank you. Go ahead, Gersh.
Question: Okay. Thank you for that. Just to be clear, Mr. Mayor, I was not making a speech before, I was just providing statistics for the Commissioner. Just – so, on a related story, Streetsblog reported exclusively today that the driver in the baby Apolline case – that was the crash from last month that killed a three-month-old baby – had once gotten arrested, and, as a condition of release, he was forced to take a safe driving course given by an agency that is serving as a model for the city as it scales up the dangerous vehicle abatement program, which you signed into law last year. Now, after taking that course in May, that very same driver accrued 26 more camera-issued speeding and red-light tickets. So, I'm going to ask you, what does that say to you about the efficacy of these so-called safe driving classes on which you were building a major public policy initiative to get the worst drivers off the road?
Mayor: Well, I'm concerned and we're going to follow up on that case immediately, because the whole idea of the law was if someone took the course and then didn't act as they were taught that then their vehicle could be impounded. So, we need to find out what happened there. And if there wasn't follow-up action, then someone didn't do the right thing, we’ve got to fix that. But Gersh, I want to make one last point, which is that law – we wrote it the way we wrote it, we all worked together with the Council, because of the current reality of broader State law. I think we’ve got to go to the main event here. It shouldn't be, you have to do the safe driving course. There should be a more direct approach to impound a vehicle when someone has multiple infractions that are dangerous to their fellow New Yorkers. So, the City's come a long way with Vision Zero. We’ve got more to do, but the profound problem in my view is the State laws are not tough enough. We need to pass the Crash Victims Act. We need to go farther than that, because, in my view, if you blow through the red light cameras enough times and you put people in danger, your car should be taken away with or without the safe driving course. Just go take it. But that requires a State law change to do.
So, everyone, as we conclude today, we’ve got a lot to do, but we also do want to say there's been some really profound progress on public safety – New Yorkers, working with the NYPD. New Yorkers also doing the most important thing, getting vaccinated. This is how we come back and this is how we achieve a recovery for all of us. Thank you, everyone.