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Judges should gauge how dangerous defendants are when considering bail, top NYPD official says 

NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin B. Tucker at

NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin B. Tucker at a news conference at One Police Plaza in lower Manhattan in March 2019. Credit: Marcus Santos

One of the NYPD’s top officials said Thursday state judges should have the power to consider how dangerous suspects are when deciding whether to grant bail, as officials try to find ways to keep violent offenders off the streets and possibly save their lives.

"We are the only state now in the country that doesn’t allow judges to consider dangerousness, in addition to flight [risk], for people who they believe and know just by looking at the data are dangerous," said Benjamin Tucker, the NYPD's first deputy commissioner and the highest ranking civilian in the department after New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.

During a virtual forum on policing hosted by the New York City Bar Association, Tucker acknowledged that bail reform was necessary but he stressed it had to be balanced to protect the communities.

"Bail reform was necessary, cash bail was a disaster, we all know it, it had a disparate impact on people of color," said Tucker, referring to changes which took effect earlier this year but which were criticized for letting too many people out of jail who went back and committed new crimes.

"Look at his through the victims' lens," Tucker said about the increase in shootings this year. "These people are out there shooting at each other and injuring other people and getting caught up in those shootings."

Violent suspects who get released without bail are not only fueling the shootings but become part of the increasing number of victims in the city, Tucker said.

One way of dealing with the violence was to empower judges to consider a person’s dangerousness when deciding to set bail or release the suspect, Tucker said.

"There are some people out there who are incredibly violent and we see the fact that they are going in [jail] and are right back out on the street, and the ones who are doing the shooting today are the ones who when we arrive at the scene have been shot and lying on the sidewalk dead — and these are mostly people of color shooting one another," Tucker said.

NYPD statistics obtained by Newsday in August showed that many of the shooting victims in the city since Jan. 1 were Black and Hispanic. Some 75% of the victims were Black, 21.4% Hispanic and less than 2% White or Asian, the data showed. The statistics also showed that 71.5% of the known suspects in the shootings were Black and 28.8% Hispanic.

In some areas of Brooklyn South and parts of Queens, the victims were nearly 90% Black, a situation Tucker and other NYPD officials have long decried. As of Monday, overall shootings in the city were up nearly 95% over 2019, police data showed.

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