Stringer Hits de Blasio for ‘Politicized’ Use of Crime Statistics

Comptroller Scott Stringer with NYCHA tenants. (Photo: Will Bredderman for Observer)

Comptroller Scott Stringer with NYCHA tenants. (Photo: Will Bredderman for Observer)

After a bloody weekend claimed the lives of seven people, Comptroller Scott Stringer today blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio’s oft-touted statistics about the city’s record-low overall crime rate—asserting that such figures fail to “trickle down” to the families of those killed in sporadic violence.

Joining other elected officials at an emotional press conference convened by Brooklyn Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo outside Fort Greene’s Ingersoll Houses—where a spray of gunfire on Sunday killed three men, one a senior citizen—Mr. Stringer lashed out at the mayor’s claims about crime. The comptroller, widely seen as Mr. de Blasio’s biggest rival and critic in city government, seemed to suggest the mayor was more interested in appearances than in lived realities.

“The debate in this city has gotten way too complicated for me. Because as we mourn the losses, the debate’s going to be ‘which week was safer?’ ‘What month did the statistics go down?’ When you’re saying ‘we had the biggest, safest summer in history,’ well, when you go out and talk to the parents and the grandparents, they don’t want to hear that,” Mr. Stringer said. “If you’re the mother and a grandmother of a lost child, you don’t want to hear about statistics any more. We’ve got to elevate this discussion.”

Crime has touched record lows during Mr. de Blasio’s administration, and shootings are down compared to last year. But troubled areas of the city, particularly in public housing, have seen periodic spikes in violence that have claimed multiple lives.

Many of the mayor’s conservative critics have blamed his support for police reform and opposition to measures like stop and frisk.

But Mr. Stringer, a fellow liberal Democrat, argued that the problem was more a result of a lack of investment in public housing and an agenda-driven approach to policy. He alluded to a contested audit his office conducted last year that alleged the New York City Housing Authority failed to meet its own standards for hiring residents.

“We are trying to hold agencies accountable. You see, if you have lit stairwells, if you have proper lighting at NYCHA, if you have resources in a community, if you have a comprehensive, less politicized approach, then we’re going to be able to win this struggle,” he said. “There’s a disconnect. People don’t want to keep talking about politicized statistics. They want to have a roadmap for success.”

“I call on this administration today, talk about how we’re going to bring problem-solving initiatives in our challenged communities, rather than talk about statistics that never trickle down to grandparents, to parents, to children who lose their loved ones on the streets of New York all too often,” he continued.

Anthony Sosa, president of the tenants association at Ingersoll Houses, echoed Mr. Stringer’s critique. He also added a dig of his own at the de Blasio administration’s already-underway effort to construct new affordable housing at the development, a crucial part of the mayor’s ambitious plan to create or preserve 200,000 below-market rate apartments.

“People are getting killed in our own neighborhoods right in front of us, with high-tech security cameras that don’t work. They don’t work. We need resources down here,” he said. “We need the mayor, the mayor, we need you to come back down here and re-evaluate what you thought was a gold mine and fix it up and reinvest in our stock, reinvest in our people, reinvest in Brooklyn. We need help.”

The comptroller, who has recently attacked everything from the mayor’s approach to the South Bronx Legionnaire’s disease outbreak to his proposal to cap the e-hail app Uber, is often rumored to be a potential challenger to Mr. de Blasio in the 2017 Democratic primary. Mr. de Blasio’s office insinuated the comptroller was taking advantage of the recent tragedies to advance his own interests, while it reiterated the administration’s assertion that 2015 enjoyed the safest summer in two decades.

“It is unfortunate that the comptroller is attempting to politicize violence,” said spokesman Peter Kadushin. “The Mayor is in constant communication with the NYPD and receives daily briefings on crime statistics. We will continue to rely on [Commissioner] Bill Bratton and the NYPD to combat crime, not the comptroller.”

Updated to include comment from Mr. de Blasio’s office. 

Stringer Hits de Blasio for ‘Politicized’ Use of Crime Statistics