Steve Hopkins, Daily Mail, January 6, 2015
New York police have cut back on arrests and reduced the amount of summonses they normally issue at this time of year, as relations continue to sour with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
In the week to last Sunday, officers made half as many arrests as they normally do and issued just 347 summonses. During the same period a year ago, police issued 4,077. Parking and traffic tickets also dropped by 90 per cent.
It is the second straight week, officers have reduced their weekly tallies.
Across the city, officers made a total of 2,401 arrests, compared with 5,448 for the same week the year before–a 56 per cent reduction.
The declines came after a drastic drop in activity that began shortly after the murders of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu on December 20.
However, police union leaders have denied that the declines represent any work action. But they have acknowledged that they’ve told staff to put their safety first.
Liu and Ramos were assassinated as they sat in their patrol car by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who later shot himself in a subway station.
Hundreds of officers turned their backs on de Blasio at the officers’ funerals, something he later labelled as being ‘disrespectful’.
Officers had also earlier booed the mayor when he spoke at a police graduation ceremony. The unions have blamed de Blasio for fostering an anti-NYPD atmosphere which they believe contributed to the murders of the officers.
The tensions also follow weeks of protests over the death of Eric Garner, whose last words ‘I can’t breathe’ have become a rallying cry against over-zealous policing. Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Most New York police precincts’ crime tallies were close to zero, the New York Times reported. Coney Island didn’t record a single parking ticket, traffic summons or ticket for a low-level crime.
Officers are reportedly now using their own discretion to largely ignore less serious offences.
At a news conference yesterday police commissioner William J. Bratton, stood with de Basio, and tried to explain away the statistical drop. He cited the officer’s funerals and the holiday season, among other theories.
He said that police bosses would look very closely, ‘precinct by precinct’ to see what caused the drop, and suggested that things may turn to normal ‘on their own volition’.
According to crime statistics, during the first week of reductions, crime was actually down. In the second week, however, it increased. Robberies increase by 13.5 per cent and murders were up 11 per cent.
Batton and de Blasio had called the news conference to celebrate the city’s success in reducing crime. Robberies and murders had dropped to the lowest levels since 1963, they claimed.
Batton did, however, acknowledge falling morale among officers.
Before Liu’s funeral he had called on officers to put their grievances aside and to demonstrate outside City Hall, rather than at the ceremony.
The crimes figures showed parking violations were down by 93 per cent, traffic infractions fell 92 per cent and other low-level crime dropped by 91 per cent. Officers also made 56 per cent fewer arrests.
Richard Aborn, the leader of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, told the newspaper he expected the drop to correct itself.
He said: ‘The only thing more critical to the cops right now than their outrage is their sense of duty, and they’re not going to abandon that for a long period.’
The reduction in infringements may come at a significant cost to New York, which earns about $10.5 million a week in parking fine revenue.
The head of the union for police traffic agents, Robert Cassar, has reportedly said his uniformed staff are now doubling up on their rounds and were being ‘very cautious’ not to ‘enrage the public’.