When New York police officers led then-International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on a controversial perp walk after his arrest on sex- assault charges, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “If you don't want to do the perp walk, don't do the crime.” Now, after news that the state's case against Strauss-Kahn has all but collapsed, the mayor has reversed his position on perp walks, which are staged to allow media outlets to photograph handcuffed criminal defendants. “We have done perp walks for the benefit of newspapers and television for a long time — I've always thought that the perp walks were outrageous,” Bloomberg said yesterday.
Bloomberg maintains that he lacks power to stop the perp walk, but he oversees the Police Department and appoints its commissioner. Aides to the mayor did not explain why the mayor doesn't have the power to curtail perp walks in New York City. Prosecutors say they are no longer certain a crime occurred, and the case may be dropped. The developments have raised questions about Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s handling of the case. Bloomberg defended Vance, who has been in office 18 months. Vance is “turning out to be a very good district attorney,” Bloomberg said. “He's taking on high-profile cases, and he's facing them.”