NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea on Friday attributed an increase in crime in New York City so far this year to the new bail reform law that kicked in on Jan. 1 and again called for Albany to make some crucial adjustments.
Shea said that the bail law, which did away with the need for cash bail for a number of offenses, hit at a time when serious crime was at an all-time low, police were making fewer arrests and the jail population had decreased markedly.
“But now as you see this in the first three weeks of this year we are seeing significant spikes in crime. Either we have forgotten how to police New York City or there is a correlation,” Shea said, referring to the bail law changes.
“If you let out individuals who commit a lot of crime, that is ‘precision policing’ in reverse,” said Shea referring to a signature NYPD program of targeting crime hots spots. “You are seeing the effects in a very quick time and that is why we are so concerned.”
NYPD crime data through Jan. 19 compared with the same period in 2019 showed robberies up 31.5%, burglaries up 15%, grand larceny up 5.6% and auto thefts, which in the past had been in steep decline, up 67%. The total for all serious felonies was up 11% over 2019.
Shea also warned that he believed the criminal discovery laws would deter crime victims from coming forward to help police if defendants could immediately learn their identifies.
Although he generally favored bail reform and prompt discovery in criminal cases, Shea said the pendulum had swung too far and needed an readjustment.
“Judges need discretion to keep New Yorkers safe, judges need discretion to step in and say ‘this is the fifth time you have been in front of me in two weeks,’” said Shea, who wants judges to be able to set bail based on the danger posed by a defendant.
Earlier in the week Shea said he traveled to Albany to talk with aides of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and had what he called “very good conversations” about the need for changes.