New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for changes to state law allowing judges to consider defendants' risk to public safety when setting bail or considering incarceration-alternative programs such as the one approved last year for Tyrone Howard, who is accused of fatally shooting a police officer, the Wall Street Journal reports. “We have a system so out of balance we have both sides of the equation wrong,” the mayor said. De Blasio disagreed with a judge's approving Howard for a diversion program after he was arrested last year in a drug bust. Howard, 30, is accused of fatally shooting officer Randolph Holder on Tuesday. The mayor said New York's bail system is broken and noted that 47 states already consider future danger in bail determinations. “New York state is absolutely out of step with the rest of the nation,” he said.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance echoed the mayor's call to change bail statutes. New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who has tried to get the legislature to change the laws, said, “I'm very unhappy that it took this kind of horrific event to call public attention to it.” Howard's criminal record includes 28 arrests, including one in which he and 18 other people were indicted in a drug bust at the East River Houses. Of that group, four people asked for diversion into drug court. A judge approved three, including Howard, What happened in Howard's case is “every judge's nightmare,” said Judge Matthew D'Emic, who was not involved in the case. “You can't do the job if you're afraid. If you're afraid, you put everybody in jail.”