Public Safety chair complains of crime increase

Vanessa Gibson (William Alatriste)
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On March 11—just 69 days after taking office—Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at City Hall that the police department “has driven down already historically low levels of crime.”

But according to the chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee, “crime has gone up in many of our precincts.”

Appearing on WNYC’s "Brian Lehrer Show" this morning, Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson repeatedly dismissed the notion that the citywide reduction in crime was being felt in crime-ridden pockets of the city. In fact, Gibson said, things are getting worse.

“Mayor de Blasio and the commissioner have talked about a reduction in citywide crime, but for many colleagues and I, crime has increased in our districts and we have hot pockets of crime around gangs and guns and drugs,” Gibson said.

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She is among the councilmembers urging the mayor to hire 1,000 additional officers, which Gibson said would equate to about 13 more cops per precinct.

“We believe these 13 [officers] will address the increase that we are seeing in our communities,” Gibson said. “Crime has gone up in many of our precincts.”

Later in the interview, Gibson said, “we have to truly recognize that we have major parts in our city where crime continues to go up. So for me going back to my community, saying ‘well, citywide, crime is going down,’ that really doesn’t fly for many of my constituents.”

De Blasio has resisted the call to hire additional officers. During last year’s mayoral campaign, he criticized one of his rivals for not adequately explaining how to pay for a proposed increase in staff. Now, as mayor, de Blasio has said the department has successfully driven down crime and therefore, does not need more police officers.

“I think this department is doing an extraordinary job with the resources it has—obviously continuing to keep crime low,” de Blasio said earlier this month when asked by a reporter about the NYPD headcount.

During the WNYC interview, host Brian Lehrer played an audio clip of Bratton speaking at a breakfast hosted by the Manhattan Institute last year, saying the NYPD was “too small” and that the overuse of stop-and-frisk was one of the results.

The NYPD has sharply reduced its use of stop-and-frisk and Bratton has repeatedly said he hears far fewer complaints about it. Today, when asked about stop-and-frisk, Bratton told reporters there are fewer stops but a greater percentage of them are leading to summonses and arrests—roughly “18 or 19 percent” now compared to “2 or 3 percent” previously, he said.

“I think the air has been let out significantly from that tire,” Bratton said. “I don’t hear much about it anymore.”