WHY IS POLICING and CRIMINAL JUSTICE IMPORTANT?
By Wright for NYC 2020 Campaign Team
One of the issues where de Blasio has disappointed many of his supporters the most has been policing. Though he came to power indicating he would take a more sweeping approach to reform of the NYPD, he has been more of an incrementalist and has often had to be pushed into accepting increased accountability and oversight of the department.
In 2020, de Blasio and the NYPD are expected to finally show evidence for their claims that the mayor’s neighborhood policing program is as effective as de Blasio often claims. The mayor will also likely have to continue to justify his support for the MTA’s planned addition of 500 new MTA police officers, many of whom are meant to patrol the subways and buses in conjunction with the NYPD in a plan that currently has more questions than answers.
There has also been criticism of the mayor’s recent choice to make Dermot Shea the new commissioner of the NYPD. It was the third time the mayor picked a white man to lead the department, again passing over First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, who is African-American.
2020 will be a year of tests for Shea, and therefore de Blasio. Those tests include whether the city can reverse the 2019 increases in murders and hate crimes, as well as pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities, all while implementing additional promised reforms to bring police and community closer together, hold NYPD officers accountable for breaches of public trust, overhauling the Special Victims Division, and more.
The mayor and the NYPD also have their work cut out for them as new criminal justice reform measures take effect, including bail reforms intended to drastically reduce the detainee population in city jails.
And the Rikers Island jail closure plan is far from fruition. Though the City Council approved the plan to build four new borough-based jail facilities, the design and construction of the buildings is yet to come, not to mention navigating all of the logistical and community-based details.
This is not an issue the current mayor will resolve during his tenure. And, if the social and criminal justice issues plaguing the country continue into 2022, the new mayor will have a very delicate and complex climate to navigate in pushing reforms while building new jails.