Release all of the criminals? NYPD Police Commissioner calls out bail reform in New York as crime skyrockets

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NEW YORK, NY – The New York Police Department Commissioner and another member of her command staff are speaking out against the bail reform laws which allow repeat offenders to go loose after being arrested.

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell appeared on Spectrum News NY1 with a member of her command staff, NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey, speaking to the media outlet about criminal justice and bail reform.

The news anchor pointed out that both topics were largely spoken about during the election season and wanted to know what both Commissioner Sewell and Chief Corey thought on the topic.

Commissioner Sewell noted that the reforms that were passed and enacted in 2019 were more complex than just bail reform laws. She then noted:

“Judges need to have the ability to determine if someone is a public safety threat to the community and to determine if a person who is a recidivist can be given bail. We are arresting the same people over and over again. I know there are people who believe this has no effect but it does. We know what we see every day.”

The anchor then asked how the officers of the NYPD are dealing with the frustration that comes after believing they have arrested the suspect and solved an issue only to see that same person out the next day. Chief Corey responded by saying he had just recently had a conversation with a detective in the First Precinct about the level of frustration they had with a specific person, 44-year-old Wilfredo Ocasio. He said:

“Just this past weekend [a] detective squad sergeant down in the First Precinct covering Lower Manhattan, Soho, Tribeca, Financial District reached out to me to express her frustration over an individual that they had arrested and charged with 21 separate crimes.

“That’s right, that’s 21 different victims, 21 different dates. [Detectives] thought that the aggregate at least of that – you victimize 21 people on 21 different occasions – would get him held [with bail or held without bail]. It didn’t. He’s released without bail.”

Ocasio has been arrested on petit theft charges a total of 33 times since mid-August of this year. He was arrested twice in October for a total of 7 petit theft charges and two others in September and one on August 19th. His arrests continued when he was arrested by detectives on November 16th and charged with 23 separate thefts from two different Duane Reade stores in Manhattan.

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According to the New York Post, Ocasio has spent time in prison, his first time in 1999 when he was convicted of rape. He also was sentenced to prison in 2013 after he was convicted of robbery and was released in November 2020.

While, as Chief Corey points out, detectives believed the total number of crimes Ocasio has been alleged of committing in such a short period coupled with his criminal history would be enough to hold him, sadly, it was not. Under the bail reform laws, none of the charges individually qualify for a judge to order bail.

This incident and many others like it would cause anyone to be frustrated on either the side of the victim or the law enforcement officer who is working hard to solve the crime and issue for the citizens of the city. Regardless of the frustration the rank and file of the NYPD feel, they are “second to none” when it comes to solving crime, according to Paul DiGiacomo, the President of the city’s Detectives Endowment Association. DiGiacomo said:

“NYPD detectives are second to none at delivering justice to victims. But the crime in our city will only get worse if those they arrest are freed with zero consequences.”

The NYPD is calling for changes that would allow those arrested to be held with or without bail depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. According to Chief Corey, who was also interviewed on the “Cats at Night” show, said that if changes are made to the bail system, crime would “plummet.” He said:

 “A simple tweak of the law…Give judges the discretion to hold dangerous offenders, and crime in New York plummets. It doesn’t come down gradually.”


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