NYPD officer shooting prompts some politicians to talk about bail and criminal justice reform

ALBANY – Politicians across New York City offered their condolences uniformly and quickly following the death of a New York Police Department officer in a shooting that also seriously injured another officer late Friday night , but the incident also led many elected officials to call for changes in the state’s criminal justice system. system.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who has pledged with Governor Kathy Hochul to tackle violent crime, has offered several spaces for change, including potential “tweaks” to state law that, according to he had “good intentions”. This was an apparently veiled reference to state bail laws.

“There are just some places we need to tweak to get the results we’re all looking for,” said Adams, a former police captain and state senator. “If we police are just taking thousands of guns off the streets and putting dangerous criminals on the streets or not dealing with the flow of guns, then we’re wasting our time. ”

While Adams and some Republicans have been quick to call for potential changes to the state’s bail laws, New York remains under a state of emergency due to an upsurge in gun violence. The Legislature is gearing up to negotiate the governor’s budget that includes $224 million to stem gun violence and offers a myriad of strategies to stem the outbreak while avoiding criticism of the pretrial system.

Adams, at the same press conference Saturday in the Bronx, also called for other reforms, which specifically did not relate to bail. Along with federal, state and local elected officials, Adams said it’s time to “move to a place where we can identify and reconcile what are the feeders of this violence that we’re seeing.”

“Because a lot of people often talk about bail reform, but there are other rivers that feed the sea of ​​violence,” said Adams, who plans to roll out a gun violence plan that will , according to him, will be a model for the nation. “If we don’t identify them correctly and put plans in place to eliminate them, we will never solve the problem of violence.”

Despite the dialogue around bail, the events in New York that directly led to the death of at least one officer At first it seemed unrelated to changes that expanded the rules for releasing someone following arrest and while their case is pending.

Officers responded to a call in Harlem from a woman about an argument with her adult son; Police believe the 47-year-old son shot two police officers with an illegal weapon that was stolen in Baltimore in 2017.

One officer, Jason Rivera, 22, was pronounced dead. The second, Wilbert Mora, 27, was seriously injured. The identified shooter, Lashawn J. McNeil, is also in critical condition, police say.

Adams and State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, D-Bronx, said they support state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, D-Brooklyn’s passage of legislation that would allow the state to potentially hold manufacturers weapons for those responsible for the shootings. The legislation was passed and signed into law last year by former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

“New York has a law to hold gun manufacturers accountable,” Myrie tweeted Friday night. “It’s time we used it.”

State Attorney General Letitia James said Friday night that “while we await the facts, my office can assert jurisdiction in this matter.” It’s unclear what law James would invoke to declare jurisdiction over a matter that would normally fall to an elected district attorney.

Hochul said “we must urgently confront the scourge of gun violence in our state” while noting investments in his proposed budget to address violent crime and extend the state of emergency Cuomo had declared.

“I refuse to have our cities seized with fear,” Hochul, a Democrat running for her first full term this year, said in a statement. “New Yorkers deserve action from their elected officials – and they will get it.”

On Sunday afternoon, Hochul announced that its new “Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns” would meet for the first time Wednesday at the New York State Intelligence Center in East Greenbush. It is to include law enforcement officials from nine northeastern states, including the NYPD, to combat the illegal use of firearms.

Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​both made statements, but both indicated they did not support any changes to the laws that were adjusted in recent years regarding bail and pre-trial discovery. Heastie said “we must end the epidemic of gun violence that has become part of our daily lives.” Stewart-Cousins ​​said she was “deeply disturbed and saddened by the horrific shooting and murder of an NYPD officer.”

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt and Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay have offered similar takes. “God bless these two officers and all who dedicate their lives to keeping New York safe,” Ortt said. While Barclay noted that “our focus and efforts must be aimed at ending this ongoing violence”.

Hochul’s opponents in the upcoming gubernatorial elections have used the opportunity to weigh in on gun violence.

Moderate US Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-Long Island, said “this has to stop” in response to four NYPD officers being shot in three days. Progressive New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, D-Brooklyn, said he felt “angry that the scourge of gun violence continues to wreak havoc.”

Republican U.S. Representatives Lee Zeldin and Andrew H. Giuliani, in the immediate wake of the tragedy, both pointed to the state’s approach to policing as a contributing factor to the spike in violence army.

“The only thing that surprises anyone is that these politicians continue to believe this has nothing to do with their lawless policies,” Zeldin said in his statement on behalf of the slain officer. He called the city’s criminal justice system “fueled by cashless bail.”

And Giuliani said “we’ve been told a fantastic lie that law enforcement is our society’s problem; the truth is that our police officers are the best of us.”

The way forward, however, may be more granular than tackling state bail laws. A roundtable in the Bronx with Adams, Rivera, and community organizers and violence switches came up with more tailored needs.

There have been calls for grants, such as those for the state of gun violence emergency, which are non-reimbursable but can offer capital to cash-strapped established groups. And there was a desire for the police to work more closely with the violence interrupters.

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