New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at Baruch College...

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at Baruch College in Manhattan on Feb. 3, 2015. Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose aides are negotiating with the City Council over its proposal to decriminalize some petty crimes, suggested Wednesday that he is unwilling to budge on transit-fare evasion.

At an impromptu news conference at the City Hall gates, Bill de Blasio said that arresting people for turnstile jumping is the centerpiece of "broken-windows" policing -- the focus on small crimes to prevent larger ones -- which he and his NYPD commissioner say is essential for crime control.

"I've made the point that fare evasion should not be looked at too lightly," de Blasio said. "We have often found in the case of fare evasion that the individuals who attempt fare evasion have outstanding warrants or have weapons on them."

The council has proposed downgrading certain quality-of-life crimes, such as public urination, being in a closed park, and riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, to civil offenses instead of crimes for which cops can make arrests.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito says arrests for petty crimes often needlessly leave lifelong scars: lost employment, a rap sheet and weeks in jail on charges that are often dismissed.

De Blasio disputed a news report that the council and mayor's office had reached a compromise downgrading some offenses. "There's no deal," he said, adding that negotiations have just started.

Separately, Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer both said Wednesday that they think public urination should remain a criminal offense.

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