Mayoral hopefuls' plans for public safety should scare New Yorkers witless
Candidates fail to explain how they would keep crime at record lows
Seven candidates appeared at the third of the mayoral forums sponsored by the Daily News and the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation citizens group. The topic was public safety.
All were advised to come prepared to explain how he or she would hold the line on crime or drive it still lower — the central duty of any mayor. All were given the opportunity to present their three most important strategies.
Not one of them was convincing or spoke with a semblance of coherence or authority.
Since 1990, the city has enjoyed a steady downward trend in felonies. Under Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the NYPD has reduced crime to record levels, an achievement that strengthened the foundation of the city's resurgence. Allow fear to return, and all will be lost, including lives.
The future hinges on smart, tough policing by a nimble, well-equipped force that is deployed by a visionary commissioner and takes to the streets confident that the mayor has its back — while fighting the war against terror at home and abroad.
It's a hell of a challenge. Let's match it against the ideas broached at the forum by a field that has been weighted toward competing expressions of outrage about the NYPD's program of stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking people suspected of criminality.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio
topped his list by promising a “fundamental holistic change in the relationship between police and community.” This was a reference to reining in the stop-and-frisk effort, which, he claimed, would improve public sentiment, which, he asserted, would produce lower crime. And, no doubt, sunnier days, too.
He would also rely on “proven strategies” like gang intervention and “rededicating ourselves to things like early childhood education.” It's a wonder Kelly never thought of opening pre-kindergarten instruction centers.
Controller John Liu
questioned the wisdom of applying “relentless pressure” to drive down crime statistics, offering the stunning notion that, hey, “at some point it's hard to believe the numbers are going to get any lower.”
He called for abolishing stop-and-frisk to ease divisions that, he said, sap police effectiveness; supported boosting the force by 5,000 cops without saying how to pay for $350 million in annual personnel costs and urged “greater economic development” to create employment. There, too, it's a wonder Kelly never though of job training.
Former Controller Bill Thompson
envisioned pumping up the force by a few thousand cops, “with 1,000 going to the five highest-crime precincts.” But he was similarly lacking in the details as to where he would get the money.
He called for a return to “community policing,” saying, “we need to see officers back on the street” to “build up that bond of trust.” Finally, he cited “organized recreational and education support” for young people who “have time on their hands.” Once more, it's a wonder Kelly never went whole hog into afterschool programs.
Former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota
cited “more community involvement,” said the NYPD's precinct-by-precinct crime stats should be easier to find on the department's website and added that “we have to increase training and sensitivity training.” Muggers, beware.
Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion
said, “We need to restore the community policing model that gets the police officers out of the squad cars.” Plus, “we need to get illegal guns off our city's streets” — a hope, not a plan. Plus, the city must stay “focused on fighting global terrorism.” Give him points for being the only candidate to raise the topic, even if he stated the obvious.
Billionaire supermarket businessman John Catsimatidis
said, “We have to have community officers that go into every community, every church, every synagogue, and deal with the people, and be able to have monthly meetings.” He called for improved communications and “mobility” by cops on community patrol. He said the NYPD has “got to put them either on a bicycle or a tricyle.” The audience laughed.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn
called for setting a “goal” to hire more cops and provide more resources to district attorneys, said she would search out ways to better coordinate NYPD investigatory units and promised better “community involvement” to “bridge the divide that has developed between the police and the community.”
That's it. Those were their top plans. Good luck, New York, you'll need it.
Camden begins training for transition to regional police force
by Elizabeth Fiedler
About 100 trainees will begin learning how to protect one of the nation's most dangerous places. The new Camden County regional police force replaces a city department that opponents said could not meet that challenge.
County freeholder director Louis Cappelli said the officers' training that starts Monday represents a significant moment for Camden.
"I'm anxious to triple the number of police officers walking the streets of Camden. Residents for the first time in decades will see officers walking the streets, bicycling through through the streets," Cappelli said. "There will be a real community policing effort that will make Camden City a safe city once again."
Opponents of the regional force worry that the officers won't be prepared to police the troubled city -- but Cappelli insists the new force will be ready.
"We've hired 155 of the existing Camden Police Department officers, so we will be using those officers for training purposes to help the new officers become acclimated to Camden," he said.
After the training is complete, Cappelli said, the officers will be fully equipped and ready to go. With 67 homicides last year, Camden surpassed the record number of slayings in 1995. The New Jersey city has one of the highest murder rates per population in the nation.
As officers patrol the streets by foot and bike, Cappelli said residents will see a difference.
Cappelli said the officers will be sworn in after completing their training. They are scheduled to start their new jobs officially April 30.
As more of the new force's officers deploy, the old city department will be phased out. But more than 100 members of the old department are switching over.
Mayor wants to talk about racial profiling and the NOPD
by Don Ames Reporting
Mayor Mitch Landrieu will host a community meeting this evening, to discuss the continued reform of the New Orleans Police Department.
One of the things the mayor intends to address is the concern about racial profiling on the part of the NOPD.
That's an area that the New Orleans Independent Police Monitor, Susan Hutson, recently tried to assess.
"We couldn't say, definitively, this is going on or it isn't. But, when we looked at the training and the policies, we definitely thought those should be beefed up."
She says the NOPD needs to do a better job of making sure officers fully understand and are compliant with the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures.
"We just felt like the policies weren't as consistent as they need to be with the Fourth Amendment and with practices in other cities," said Hutson.
"The materials need to beefed up a little more...need more examples. And, then, they need to go through those examples with the officers a lot more."
She says it's an important issue, because citizens regularly complain of profiling and unfair targeting.
"The Fourth Amendment is a really tough subject," Hutson says. "It's tough for lawyers, it's tough for judges. So we know it's tough for cops who are out there, having to make split-second decisions."
"You have to train them and make sure that they have a really firm grasp of the Fourth Amendment. And the more you train on it, the better officers will be about knowing when they have reasonable suspicion and probable cause."
"That way you won't have issues like the supervisor who sent out an email that came out at the beginning of the month, in which he said 'Go stop bicycles.' It didn't say anything about making sure they were following the Constitution. It didn't say anything about that. It just said 'Go out and stop bicycles'."
She says a 'Stop & Frisk' policy can actually hurt the mission to fight crime if it alienates the public.
"Community policing and trying to reduce crime is all is all about trust between the police and the community they serve."
Hutson says just addressing the issue in a public meeting is beneficial.
"First of all, it's telling the public that you care about their issues. And the public gets a chance to say 'Hey look, we do support you, but this is a problem in our community and we need to work together on this."
The Independent Police Monitor is an independent oversight agency for the New Orleans Police Department. The IPM's Mission is to improve police services, citizen trust in the NOPD, and officer safety and working conditions.
Mayor Landrieu recently met with members of the local NAACP to hear their concerns. He asked the group to partner with him in the City's NOLA FOR LIFE plan to reduce murder in New Orleans. In addition to the Mayor, the senior leadership of the New Orleans Police Department will attend tonight's meeting.
The meeting will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at First Emmanuel Baptist Church, 1829 Carondelet Street, in Central City.
Dover ponders 'crime-free' leases
DOVER — City Council is set to consider an ordinance tonight that would give landlords and law enforcement greater power to clean up properties where crime and nuisances are chronic problems.
The ordinance would require landlords to include in their rental agreements a “crime-free lease addendum” that forbids tenants, their guests or others under their control from engaging in criminal activity, including felonies and serious misdemeanors, as well as nuisance crimes such as excessive noise, disorderly conduct, lewdness and public intoxication.
The rules would require landlords to evict tenants who break the criminal activity rules three times in a one-year period.
Dover Police Chief James Hosfelt said the ordinance is not targeted at a specific area of the city or in response to a particular crime trend.
Problem properties exist in every council district, he said, and persistent complaints range from prostitution and drug dealing to loud noise and vandalism.
“Some of the landlords we talked to are happy with the ordinance,” Hosfelt said. “They see it as a help to them in their efforts; they want to take care of their properties.”
Crime-free lease provisions already are applied to units rented by the city's housing authority, and the results have been positive, Hosfelt said.
Under the ordinance, landlords who don't follow through with eviction proceedings against problem tenants can lose their rental licenses.
Dover real estate agent Phil McGinnis, who manages a dozen Dover rental properties, helped develop the proposal and said it will help separate good, responsible landlords from bad.
“This ordinance is targeting the landlords, but I also don't think every landlord in the city should be offended or take it personally,” he said. “The upfront landlords, the right-on landlords, are never going to encounter the consequences of this.”
The ordinance also establishes a twice-yearly seminar for landlords on how to recognize and combat criminal activity at their properties, to be led by community policing officers and a deputy attorney general.
Hosfelt said the first session will be April 13 in the police station's community conference room.
The seminars would be voluntary for property owners, except in cases where an owner's rental permit has been suspended for failing to comply with the lease addendum requirements.
Landlords would also be required to attend if their properties were visited by police for criminal activity involving tenants more than three times in six months.
Similar lease addendums and seminar programs are offered voluntarily in the cities of Harrington and Wilmington, but no Delaware municipality has codified the system,
Council will have its first reading of the ordinance at its regular meeting tonight at 7:30. A second reading and final vote on the proposal will come two weeks later.