NYC Police Unions Blame Gun Violence on Bail Reform

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Photo by VIP Bail Bonds in Colorado via Flickr.

On Monday, New York City’s five police unions joined in solidarity with victim’s loved ones as they collectively pleaded with judges and lawmakers to address the alarming surge in gun violence—particularly through changing the bail reform laws that they say are simply not working to keep New Yorkers safe, the NY Daily News and New York Post report. 

“Our cops on the street warned us that it was happening,” Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said at a press conference, as quoted by the NY Daily News, referring to a startling spike in gun violence in 2020 and so far this year as well. “We warned the politicians that this won’t work. Violence will rise.” 

“And it has,” Lynch concluded.

New York Bail reform has been a topic heavily debated since it first took effect at the start of 2020, and despite later amendments, critics say too many criminals are not eligible for bail, leading them to become repeat offenders. 

Read about the amendments: NY Scales Back Bail Reform After Police Complaints, April 10, 2020

Many single out the fact that individuals can be charged with gun possession, but some are automatically freed at arraignment because “judges do not have the discretion to order them held or to set high bail,” NY Daily News reports. 

In 2020, murder rate in New York city jumped 47 percent, to 468 from 319 in 2019. Moreover, the number of people shot—1,898 New Yorkers—more than doubled from the 923 people shot in 2019. 

And, as Lynch said, the violence has continued. New York City has currently seen 68 murders this year, compared to the 66 at this time in 2020. There were also 227 people shot this year, a 42 percent rise from the 160 shot at this time last year, the NY Daily News details.

Ticking Clock  

The renewed push on Monday to address bail reform as a catalyst for the increase in gun violence comes as the City Council faces an April 1 deadline to come up with police reform measures, following a mandate by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

Gov. Cuomo mandated that all New York State cities submit reform plans—including a city residency requirement for cops, as well as a plan to combat racial bias in policing— or risk the loss of state funding or the possibility to monitor the oversight of the NYPD, the NY Daily News reports. 

Even as leaders understand the urgency, many say a fairer justice system is worth pursuing, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of defunding the police. 

“Yes, we want justice for all,” Lynch said. “Even justice for the criminal—we want it done right. But with that we want safety. It’s not too late. Realize you’re going in the wrong direction. Turn around.”

‘Listen to the Victims’

At the same Monday event, grieving parents who have seen first-hand the devastating impact of losing a loved one to gun violence demanded that their voices be heard. 

Each person held up a sign that read: “Listen to the victims, your laws are not working” adorned with images of the five police union badges that support their stance. 

The father of slain NYPD cop Randolph Holder joined two grieving mothers whose teen children were shot and killed, where he spoke about the pain he has felt since his son’s 2015 untimely death at the hands of a notorious gang member in Harlem.

“The pain is still within,” said Randolph Holder, Sr., as quoted by the New York Post.

“I’m calling on all judges to be tougher on sentencing for crimes of guns so that if you do the crime you’ve got to pay the time,” Holder said. “My son was a very good man.”

“I also want to call on the mayor, governor to institute tougher laws for these perps, the criminals,” he concluded, according to the New York Post.

Detectives Endowment Association President Paul DiGiacomo echoed Holder’s sentiment, saying that police hands have been tied with the recent legislation, jeopardizing the safety of New Yorkers.

Shamoya McKenzie, a promising 13-year-old basketball phenom from Mount Vernon, was killed by a stray bullet while driving with her mom, Nadine, in Westchester County city in 2017, the New York Post reports.

Nadine McKenzie spoke at the conference, saying, “Reform is not working for the purpose they put in place. Crime is so high after bail reform. They need to change it because it’s not doing what they wanted.” 

Eve Hendricks said her son, Brandon, was shot on June 28 of last year, just two days after graduating from high school and nine days shy of his 18th birthday after attending a BBQ with friends.

NYPD Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox said it was a “senseless act” and many believe he was wrongfully targeted as someone else, ABC 7 News details. 

“This is not right and it’s not fair, so I’m calling on judges, please, you have to stop releasing criminals that are charged with guns, putting them on the street because they end up doing the same thing they did to go in,” Nadine Hendricks concluded, as quoted by the New York Post.

In response to the recent string of gun violence attacks across New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he is authorizing a pilot program, spearheaded by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, deemed the Advanced Peace Model designed to divert at-risk youth from gun violence, Fox 5 NY News details.  

Williams says the pilot program will incentivize nonviolent behavior and use metrics to chart progress for at-risk youth. De Blasio confirmed that the program is scheduled to begin this July in five NYPD precincts, one in each borough, Fox 5 NY News reported. 

Additional Reading: Bail Reform: Reducing Pretrial Populations and Protecting Public Safety

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