NYPD blasts new Manhattan DA Bragg’s pledge to not prosecute or lock up countless criminals

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NEW YORK CITY, NY – Newly-inaugurated Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has outraged law enforcement in the city by issuing a memo instructing his staff not to prosecute many crimes and to bar detention and incarceration for most crimes.

On January 3, Bragg distributed a memo setting out a number of radical changes to the office’s approach to law enforcement, including refusal to prosecute multiple offenses.

The memo states the Office will not prosecute certain charges unless as part of an accusatory instrument containing at least one felony count.

The charges include marijuana misdemeanors, fare jumping, trespass, almost all traffic offenses and summary charges, and prostitution.

The DA’s policy also prohibits prosecution of such crimes as resisting arrest for any of the above and most cases of government obstruction.

In addition to outright refusal to prosecute the above, the new DA has instructed staff that his office will not seek pre-trial detention or prison sentences for crimes other than homicide, public corruption, and a few other exceptional cases.

NYPD blasts new Manhattan DA Bragg's pledge to not prosecute or lock up countless criminals

The memo stated:

“The Office will not seek a carceral sentence other than for homicide or other cases involving the death of a victim, a class B violent felony in which a deadly weapon causes serious physical injury, domestic violence felonies, sex offenses in Article 130 of the Penal Law, public corruption, rackets, or major economic crimes, including any attempt to commit any such offense under Article 110 of the Penal Law, unless required by law.

“For any charge of attempt to cause serious physical injury with a dangerous instrument, ADAs must obtain the approval of an ECAB supervisor to seek a carceral sentence.”

Bragg, who was elected in November with indirect backing from billionaire George Soros, also instructed prosecutors to avoid incarceration for certain robberies and assaults, as well as gun possession in cases where no other crimes are involved.

He also directed that they no longer request prison sentences of more than 20 years absent “exceptional circumstances.”

The restrictions on criminal penalties placed by the DA have angered police unions and residents as the city struggles with surges in homicides and other violent crimes.

Rafael A. Mangual, a senior fellow and head of research for the Policing and Public Safety Initiative at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of the City Journal, wrote:

“Less than a week ago, New Yorkers closed the book on a year that saw 485 murders—a slight rise over 2020, which saw a massive increase over 2019.

Along with marking the end of Bill de Blasio’s tenure as mayor, 2021 also became the fourth consecutive year in which Big Apple homicides increased.

“Four straight years of homicide increases: that has never happened in my lifetime. Depressing as the crime data have been as of late, many Gothamites rang in the New Year with optimism about new mayor Eric Adams, a former cop who ran on an explicitly anti-crime platform.

But New Yorkers are quickly learning that last year’s election outcomes weren’t universally anti-crime.”

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Mangual mentioned that crimes like robbery and burglary, which will be downgraded to lesser charges under the new DA, resulting in a situation where a store clerk could legally shoot the violator dead in self-defense, but the violator would not warrant a serious criminal sentence if arrested.

He continued that the DA is losing focus with the new policies:

These policies reflect several misapprehensions on Bragg’s part. Among them is his focus on offenses rather than offenders. As I’ve written before, criminals often commit a wide range of crimes throughout their offending careers, which means that you can’t treat someone as “non-violent” just because their most recent arrest was for a non-violent crime. Today’s low-level drug possessor can be tomorrow’s shooting suspect…

“Blanket policies like Bragg’s ignore this reality in favor of the fiction that pursuing even relatively minor charges against high-risk offenders brings no benefits.”

The New York City Police Benevolent Association (PBA) also spoke out against Bragg’s policies, saying that police officers would not want to risk their safety to enforce laws that prosecutors did not intend prosecute.

PBA President Pat Lynch told local media Bragg was sending the wrong message to criminals:

“To say we won’t prosecute if you wave a gun unless you use a gun, my concern is how are our police officers going to do their job?

“(Criminals) are going to get even more bold. That means the violence will grow. If I got away with this this time, next time I will do more. Next time I will not only be disorderly, I’ll be violent.”

In another Twitter post, the PBA President wrote:

“POs don’t want to be sent out to enforce laws that the district attorneys won’t prosecute. And there are already too many people who believe that they can commit crimes, resist arrest, interfere w/ police officers & face zero consequences.”

NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the DA was creating controversy where there was previously agreement:

“I strongly believe that this policy injects debate into decisions that would otherwise be uncontroversial, will invite violence against police officers and will have deleterious effects on our relationship with the communities we protect.

“I am very concerned about the implications to your safety as police officers, the safety of the public and justice for the victims.”

On Saturday, at the Harlem headquarters of the National Action Network standing with liberal stalwart Rev. Al Sharpton, Bragg responded to criticism coming from NYPD Unions and Keechant, and vowed to “stay the course”:

“We said we were going to marry fairness and safety. We know that safety has got to be based in our community, and fairness and cannot be driven solely by incarceration.

“Let me just say there has been some misunderstandings. So again, let me be clear to all those who I may be reintroducing myself to: If you go to the store in Manhattan and use a gun to rob that store, that is armed robbery, that is serious and will be prosecuted.”

Sewell was not persuaded by the DA’s claims of misunderstanding, stating:

“I am concerned about sweeping edicts that seem to remove discretion, not just from police officers, but also from assistant district attorneys regarding what crimes to prosecute and how to charge them.”

 

 

 

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