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NYC Council hopes for accord by year's end decriminalizing petty offenses

Aides to New York City Council Speaker Melissa

Aides to New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, seen in an April 2014 photo, and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton are meeting regularly about a proposal to decriminalize petty offenses. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The New York City Council is hoping to negotiate an agreement by year's end with the NYPD over lawmakers' proposal to deploy civil tickets instead of handcuffs for the most common petty offenses, a legislative official said Tuesday.

Aides to council leader Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton are meeting regularly, and they've spoken twice recently over the proposal, which would cover such crimes as public urination and trespassing in a public park after hours.

The timeline and other details were described by lawmakers who spoke to City Hall reporters on condition of anonymity.

A gap remains. Bratton said in a letter last week to Mark-Viverito that "proposals to eliminate criminal penalties associated with quality-of-life offenses must not be adopted." But the same letter signaled that compromises on so-called broken-windows policing were possible, ranging from charging first-time violators with lower-level offenses to formalized warnings.

The council is hoping to impose civil monetary fines in place of the possibility of jail time and a criminal record that impacts prospects for employment and housing. Some of the proposals would require Albany's OK because they are governed by state laws.

One of the issues to be resolved: how a cop compels a suspect to produce ID absent a potential criminal-law violation. Potential solution: maintaining a corresponding criminal statute as a threat if someone fails to produce ID.

Despite the fissure, Bratton is allied with the council on a push to add 1,000 cops to the force's 35,000 head count. Bratton's boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, has proposed no increase, but Monday the top cop convened a news conference to announce that he needs at least 400 more counterterrorism cops to fight what he called a renewed threat against the city by the Islamic State.

Council officials said there would be no logrolling -- trading more cops for Bratton's support on the summons proposals.


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