New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed the NYPD as the “world’s greatest police department” on Monday during a press conference alongside Commissioner William Bratton.
The mayor, who has been subjected to silent protests by some officers in the wake of the murder of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn last month, touted “breathtaking” 2014 figures which showed an overall 4.6% drop in crime from 2013, which had previously seen the lowest recorded crime rate since the beginning of the CompStat era in 1993.“2014 proves to be the most extraordinary year of all,” said De Blasio, who added that “so much of that credit goes to Commissioner Bratton.” Official statistics show that there were 2,600 fewer robberies last year, a decrease in murders, and a drop in subway crime that de Blasio said would have seemed “absolutely unimaginable” to longtime citizens of the five boroughs.
De Blasio credited the infusion of fresh resources for officers (from technology to new training) and reforms to “broken windows policing” which emphasized community engagement and phased out “stop-and-frisk” as well as some marijuana-related arrests as a major part of the NYPD’s success. “We addressed an issue that needed to be addressed,” the mayor said.
In 2015, the police force will be getting tablets and smartphones in every patrol car, in addition to further updates to the city’s harbor patrol and helicopter fleet.
“Crime rates in this city are probably the best in the nation,” said Bratton, who contrasted 2014 figures with 1990, when he first came to New York City to lead the Transit Police. At that time, there were an average 22 murders per year on NYC subways, whereas today you have a “one in one million” chance of being a victim of serious crime in the city’s transit system, Bratton said.
Bratton also spoke to the issue of officer morale, conceding that “in some areas it is not what I would like it to be.” He suggested that the recent deaths of two NYPD officers was not the only factor frustrating police. He cited unresolved contractual issues that date back to the previous mayoral administration of Michael Bloomberg, as well as anger over a retirement plan established by former New York Gov. David Paterson which allegedly provides fewer benefits than similar plans had in the past. While he agreed with de Blasio that arrests for small amounts of marijuana were deemed a misuse of police resources, Bratton reiterated that there would not be a return to pre-1993 style policing.
The commissioner went on to express his “disappointment” in the hundreds of officers who “embarrassed themselves” through “selfishness” by turning their backs on the mayor in protest during slain officers’ funerals.
And while De Blasio acknowledged the “loudest voices of disunity and discord that dominate the news cycle,” he said that the majority of New Yorkers “want us to come together.” He called the actions of police who turned their backs on him “disrespectful.”
“My feelings don’t matter here,” de Blasio added. “What matters is the people of this city.”