New York City’s five police unions agreed that crime will only get worse if bail reform laws are not changed.
The laws, which were introduced in 2019 and passed in 2020, limit the use of bail, eliminating cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felony charges. Following opposition to the reforms, it was rolled back and narrowed in scope, allowing additional crimes where a judge could set bail.
Despite the amendment to the reforms, critics and police unions in particular believe that too many crimes are still not eligible for bail, which is allowing repeat offenders, including those charged with gun possession, to be set free.
Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch referenced the rise of crimes at a press conference, saying, “Our cops on the street warned us that it was happening. We warned the politicians that this won’t work. Violence will rise. And it has.”
According to the New York Daily News, murders in 2020 rose 47%, from 319 in 2019 to 468, while the number of people shot more than doubled. So far, 2021 looks to be the same if not worse, with 68 murders this year compared to 66 at the same time last year, and a 42% rise in the number of people shot.
Union leaders spoke on the matter at a lower Manhattan press conference a day before the City Council was set to discuss further NYPD reform proposals. Among the reform proposals are laws to combat racial bias among police, as well as mandating that officers have city residency.
According to New York state governor Cuomo’s mandate, cities must submit reform plans by the first of April to avoid losing funding, leading many in law enforcement to believe that the police are being demonized and scapegoated as the problem in the justice system.
Paul DiGiacomo, president of the Detectives Endowment Association, said “How much blood needs to spill on our streets before our elected officials both in the city and state fix what they have broken? The lives of all New Yorkers depend on it.”
Families of murder victims are also joining police in criticizing the bail reforms, stressing that laws that benefit criminals have real-life and sometimes dangerous consequences.