Analysis: Community members have yet to see an increase in crime, but say they feel less safe
One of the strange ironies in the feud between New York City police officers and criminal justice reform advocates is that police now seem to be protesting by giving some of their opponents exactly what they want.
As tensions came to a head in recent days between New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers and Mayor Bill de Blasio, the number of low-level arrests and summonses carried out by police each day has sharply declined. The New York Post described the situation as a “virtual work stoppage,” interpreting it as an act of defiance against de Blasio for his perceived support for critics of the police force.
The NYPD confirmed to Al Jazeera that the numbers cited by the Post are accurate, but the department has not publicly acknowledged that the decline in arrests and summons is intentional.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), the largest union representing NYPD officers, has been feuding with de Blasio since last summer, when he made remarks that the union said showed hostility to the police.
Ratcheting up the tension, late last month two NYPD officers sitting in their vehicle in Brooklyn were killed by a gunman who had made vitriolic anti-police comments on social media. Several NYPD police officers turned their backs on de Blasio during funerals for the two slain police officers in a sign of protest against the mayor’s criticisms.
Whatever is behind the sudden drop in arrests, it’s something that many of the police department’s critics have long called for. They decry the department’s heavy emphasis on low-level arrests, saying that strategy has disproportionately penalized people of color.
But many people of color in heavily policed neighborhoods say the slowdown is nothing to celebrate. Instead, some residents of East New York, a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn, told Al Jazeera the slowdown has made them feel less secure.
“With fewer police, I feel less safe — but I haven’t seen more crime,” said Jose Rivera, 56, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic.