Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said today that a severe reduction in the number of summonses issued by police has not kept crime from falling in New York City.
Mr. Bratton, speaking with reporters at 1 Police Plaza, said that the NYPD slowdown–he never actually used the term–was stopping and the city’s safety had not been negatively impacted. The slowdown came as a rift between Mayor Bill de Blasio and police unions only appears to widen.
“The overall takeaway is that the officers are going back to work, we’re seeing improvement in these passing days, passing weeks,” Mr. Bratton said. “Crime is continuing to go down in the city in every borough, in subways, in the housing developments and so you can wrestle all you want with the particulars of those numbers ad nauseam, but the takeaway of the city is not being impacted in a negative way.”
Mr. Bratton said that unlike arrest numbers, summonses take longer to process and there may be some lag before the totals climb closer to what is average for the department. He insisted the NYPD had no quota system for how many summonses should be handed out in any week-long period.
CompStat data showed that summons for parking, moving and criminal violations for the previous week are still down about 74, 65, and 71 percent compared to numbers last year. But the drop from the week before that compared to last year was even greater: all three categories showed declines of 90 or more percent.
Year-to-date murder, rape, robbery and felony assault complaints are down across the, CompStat data shows.
While slowdowns are illegal and the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, denied he had told cops to issue less tickets, Mr. Bratton reportedly pressured the police unions and rank and file cops to push numbers back up or face severe consequences. Mr. Bratton denied a New York Post report that his brass threatened to revoke sick days and vacations days for cops if the slowdown didn’t stop.
For the critics of “broken windows” theory policing, which stipulates that paying close attention to smaller, quality-of-life issues will prevent greater crime, the NYPD slowdown has inadvertently lent them ammunition. Critics believe the mode of policing, fully supported by Mr. Bratton, unfairly targets minorities and isn’t proven to prevent spikes in crime.
But Mr. Bratton aggressively pushed back on that argument.
“The trending of that would take a period of time that can’t be measured in the space of a week or now in the space of almost two weeks,” Mr. Bratton said. “We have certainly, undoubtedly the residual benefit of 20 some odd years of changed behavior in the city and that’s not going to be undone in the space of a couple of weeks.”
“It took a long time for all 6,000 subway cars in the city to be covered in graffiti. As you may recall, that was not something that happened over night–it took years of neglect,” he added.