Failed presidential candidate Andrew Yang, now running for NYC mayor says police are to blame for rising crime rates

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The  following contains editorial content written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today. 

NEW YORK CITY- Despite the fact that New York cut the NYPD budget by $1 billion…yes that’s with a “B”…last July, current New York mayoral candidate and failed presidential candidate Andrew Yang is blaming the city’s police department for rising crime rates, while discounting both the budget cut and New York’s criminal justice “reform” law, which has been an abysmal failure.

Newsweek reported that in an interview with Yang, he claimed that the Black Lives Matter riots and other anti-racist demonstrations across the country, with related clashes between police and rioters taken in concert with city residents’ concerns about safety and security are connected.

Well thank you, Captain Obvious.

Yang of course offered no real solutions except the usual pablum. Of course, he proposes a bureaucrat to run the NYPD as commissioner, someone with apparently no experience or at the least nobody with ties to the NYPD.

Yang also complained about the current bail system, and actually wants to make it even more lenient than it already is.

Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of those arrested, even for violent crime, are on the streets before the ink is dry on their arrest reports are dry, Yang wants to go even further.

“You know, there are people who are unable to pay fines and whatnot, who are unable to make bail, that are being incarcerated that should not be. It’s something that I’m very passionate about,” Yang said.

Clearly, he has either been asleep for the past year or he’s clueless. We’ll vote for the latter.

As far as replacing the commissioner with an outsider, Yang said the following:

“I proposed a civilian police commissioner who will be independent of the culture of the NYPD. If you’re going to change the culture of an organization it has to start at the top,” Yang said.

He also wants new police officers to reside in the city. Not that they can afford to on an officer’s starting salary, but that matters not to Yang.

While failing to address the significant cut to the NYPD budget, Yang blamed the department for what he called a number of unsolved crimes in the city.

Speaking to the “culture” of the NYPD, he claimed that you “need to improve police culture” and still hold police accountable for resolving violent crime.

Talking about the resolution rate of violent crime, Yang said, “Unfortunately, they are going down right now. That is another form of police accountability—if you have higher rates of unsolved crimes, that is not a trend that you want to continue.”

Last year, the NYPD saw a 97 percent jump in shootings compared to 2019, with a 45 percent increase in murders. In 2020, there were more than 420 murders—140 more than 2019. Shootings doubled last year, going from 777 in 2019 to 1,531 in 2020 across New York’s five boroughs.

Law enforcement officials in New York, along with the NYPD’s police unions laid the blame on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s soft on crime approaches, plus the criminal justice reform bill, which went into effect in January 2020.

A majority of those shootings went unsolved in 2020, with the clearance rate standing at just below 32 percent. Even less resulted in prosecution and conviction, hardly the fault of the NYPD.

Still Yang laid the blame on the police department while ignoring the criminal justice reform bill as an obvious cause. Likewise, Yang ignored the dissolution of the NYPD’s undercover crime suppression unit, also given as a reason for the significant increase in crime.

 In June, the NYPD disbanded it’s 600 member crime suppression unit, which was spread out across the city in various precincts and public housing complexes.

At the time he disbanded the unit, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said, “I would consider this in the realm of closing on one of the last chapters on stop, question and frisk.” Shea did however credit the members of the squad for getting guns off the street.

Shea also said at the press conference announcing the unit’s demise that it would likely lead to increased violence.

“It will be felt immediately throughout the five district attorney’s offices, it will be felt immediately in the communities we protect,” he said.

At the time, the city’s largest police union slammed the decision, in part mirroring Shea’s warning about increased crime.

“Shooting and murders are both climbing steadily upward, but our city leaders have clearly decided that proactive policing isn’t a priority anymore,” Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said.

“They chose this strategy. They will have to reckon with the consequences.”

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Law Enforcement Today has written extensively about bail reform and the negative impact it has had on citizens not only in New York City, but throughout the Empire State. For more on that, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

ROCHESTER, NY – New York State Police arrested 26-year-old Tyquan Rivera from Rochester for a number of drug charges, in addition to multiple vehicle and traffic violations on Friday afternoon.

NYSP said Rivera was in possession of fentanyl, crack, cocaine and $11,000 in cash.

The NYSP said:

“Rivera was charged for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 3rd Degree (2 counts), Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 4th (2 counts), Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 7th. Degree, and numerous Vehicle and traffic violations.”

Rivera was promptly released for the charges after being processed.

This was not Rivera’s first encounter with the law.

Rivera was arrested in 2009, at the young age of 14, for shooting Rochester Police Officer Anthony DiPonzio in the head, according to WROC.   He was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison for the shooting. 

DiPonzio, who was 24 at the time of the shooting, went through intensive rehabilitation before returning to work in November 2011, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.  Rivera was released from prison in 2016, but arrested again in 2017 for a parole violation.

He was then released in February 2019 after serving the maximum amount of time he could be incarcerated.

 

In December 2019, Rivera was arrested along with four others, each of whom were charged with possession of narcotics with the intent to sell. 

Prosecutors did not say how the five were connected.

At the time of his Dec. 19 arrest, bail had been set at $25,000 cash or $100,000 bond since it was prior to the new bail laws going into effect.

However, Rivera was released in January due to New York State’s new bail reform laws that took effect Jan. 1.  The new laws mandated that inmates being held for misdemeanors and certain felonies would not be required to post bail.

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In addition, the bail reform laws became retroactive, so inmates locked up for similar crimes were required to be freed as well.   And an estimated 250 inmates were going to have their jail restrictions removed, according to WHAM.

Assistant District Attorney Matt Schwartz said in January that these laws allowed Rivera to be released, despite also being charged with six counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, five counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and one count of conspiracy in the fourth degree for allegedly selling Fentanyl to undercover officers on multiple occasions.

A.D.A. Schwartz said:

Our hands are certainly tied.  This is someone who’s previously been convicted of shooting a police officer, who has a prior violent felony conviction on his record, who is currently facing allegations of selling Fentanyl to an undercover police officer, who faces a minimum of six years and a maximum of 15 years if he is convicted of these new drug charges. 

“And it’s rather disturbing that someone in that situation is automatically released by virtue of this new law.”

Rivera’s attorney, Jim Napier, explained how the bail reform law affected his client:

“It’s a new law, and the judge does have some discretion in setting conditions of release – although the law does require that Mr. Rivera be released and that the judge could not set cash bail, but he could set certain conditions of release, which he did do, and so we did not have an objection with those conditions of release.”

According to CNY Central, Judge Sam Valleriani ruled Rivera would be required to surrender his passport and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.  He also would be required to meet with pre-trial services.

While some people have claimed bail reform laws do not release violent offenders, CBS2 released a shockingly long list of crimes that fall under it; thus, contradicting those claims.

Some of the crimes that CBS2 noted make a criminal eligible for release include:

Criminal injection of a controlled substance into another person
• 3rd degree Assault
• Reckless Assault of a child
• Aggravated Vehicular Assault
• 1st degree Stalking while committing a sex offense
• Criminal Obstruction of Breathing
• Criminally Negligent Homicide
• 2nd degree Manslaughter
• Tampering with a consumer product (multiple counts)
• 3rd degree Arson
• Killing a Police Dog or Police Horse
• Obstructing emergency medical services
• Obstructing governmental services with a bomb
• Riot (multiple counts)
• Criminal Anarchy
• Pointing a laser at an aircraft (multiple counts)
• Harming a service animal (multiple counts)
• Endangering the welfare of a child
• Assisting in female genital mutilation
• Endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person
• Endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person
• Endangering the welfare of a disabled person (multiple counts)
• Promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child
• Possession of an obscene sexual performance by a child
• Promoting a sexual performance by a child
• Possessing a sexual performance by a child
• Aggravated Labor Trafficking
• Reckless Endangerment of property
• Stalking (multiple counts)
• Promoting a suicide attempt

Prior to the bail reform laws taking effect, New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea told CBS2:

“It’s concerning. We’re going to have to work harder than ever with our partners, with our fellow district attorneys, to prosecute these crimes to make sure that we are on top of our game.

“When you have individuals that are standing before a judge and immediately being released, and essentially everyone in the room knows that this person is a danger to the community, I think we need to look at the system and make sure that judges can make common sense decisions.”

 

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