New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said that the city’s criminal justice system is falling apart for a combination of reasons.
“We cannot keep people safe without keeping bad, dangerous, people off the streets,” Shea said this week. “You have a criminal justice system that’s imploding. That’s the kindest way to put it.”
Shea’s remarks come as New York City’s homicide rate hit a five-year high. The number of people shot in the city has also increased by 42% from last year, according to NBC New York. Shea pointed to a number of reasons why he believes the system is breaking down, including shutdowns in the judicial system over COVID-19, bail reform laws, lack of social safety nets for released prisoners, and case deferments.
The commissioner said that there must be some way for arraignments and grand jury proceedings to continue, urging courts to “do it virtually, do something.” Shea also called supervised release a “fallacy” and said it isn’t possible to monitor everyone released from prison.
“Releasing people to homeless shelters is a recipe for disaster,” he said. “There is no safety net. Often, we don’t even have a clue where they are.”
“The people who are suffering are the people in New York City,” Shea added.
The NYPD has been handling mass demonstrations that arose after the death of George Floyd for weeks now. Shea recently, and controversially, scrapped the department’s anti-crime unit and reassigned about 600 officers to different roles.
“This is 21st-century policing,” Shea said of the action. “We must do it in a manner that builds trust between the officers and the community they serve.”
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