Mike Bloomberg on Crime

Mayor of New York City (Independent)


Reduce crime but with a more racially sensitive police force

Bloomberg wanted the city's reduction in crime under Rudy Giuliani to go further. And he wanted a more sensitive police force and a new civility in dealing with black and Hispanic New Yorkers. He would do away with patronage, turn a deaf ear to the lobbyists and special pleaders and, as the law demands, balance the budget. Bloomberg suddenly had a comprehensive agenda for New Yorkers of all kinds, one that sent a clear message: Trust me. Let me get on with the job. I am all you need.
Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.123 , Sep 28, 2010

Apologizing for police racial errors kept city calm

Just before 6AM on a spring day in 2003, Alberta Spruill, an African American woman of 57, was in her Harlem home getting ready for work when police officers threw a concussion grenade into her apartment, crashed through her door, and handcuffed her. After complaining of chest pains, she was being ferried by ambulance when her heart suddenly stopped. Two hours later she was dead--literally frightened to death by police who had acted on an informant's erroneous tip about guns and drugs.

Bloomberg called what had happened tragic and "a terrible episode," and spoke with apology and candor at her funeral. A public accustomed to Rudy Giuliani routinely giving the police the benefit of every doubt greeted Bloomberg's apologetic tone with surprise and gratitude.

The city stayed calm after Alberta Spruill's death. And it stayed calm over the new few months despite two more police encounters with innocent African American, each of which provoked similarly soothing and rapid reactions from Bloomberg.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.138 , Sep 28, 2010

OpEd: never a conspicuous civil libertarian

New Yorkers, most of them still Democrats, objected to Bloomberg's handling of the 2004 Republican National Convention, when 1,800 people were arrested and held in a large detention center, some guilty of no more than standing on a street during a police sweep. Never a conspicuous civil libertarian, the mayor brusquely dismisses the issue of the treatment of demonstrators, and privacy in general, justifying himself and his Police Department: "There's a camera watching you at all times when you're out in the street; the civil liberties issue has long been settled," he says.

As he sees it, those who were arrested put themselves at risk and in effect got what they deserved because the police were reacting to threats. 5 years after the convention, the city had spent $6.6 million to defend the lawsuits, an additional $1.7 million to settle 90 claims and still faced lawsuits filed by hundreds of plaintiffs. About 90% of the people arrested had their charges dismissed outright or dropped after 6 months.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.154-155 , Sep 28, 2010

Educate prisoners: build more classrooms at Rikers Island

This year, we will build more classrooms at Rikers Island and make going to school there more attractive. And to keep inmates on the right path once they leave, we will link them to the benefits they need immediately upon release. They’ve paid their debt--but with no prospects, sadly, too many of them will return to jail. Let’s help them build their future--which will help keep all of us safe.
Source: 2008 State of the City Address , Jan 17, 2008

Fewer homicides in NYC than any year on record

Mayor Bloomberg announced that crime in NYC fell again in 2007, marking the 17th straight year. The City is also on course to have fewer than 500 homicides in 2007, surpassing all records. “When I came into office, many believed it was impossible to drive crime, particularly murders, down any further,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Yet, beginning in 2002, crime declined steadily and murders fell below 600 annually for the first time in 40 years. That happened again in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.”
Source: Press release, “New Record In Crime Reduction” , Dec 26, 2007

Reduced murder rate by focusing on domestic violence

Included in the murder decline for 2007 was another record: a 36% decrease in domestic violence murders. The decrease coincided with an intensive, 5-year effort the NYPD has undertaken to prevent domestic violence.

Very few victims of homicides were strangers to their perpetrators or were killed in random attacks. There was an impressive decline in domestic violence homicides. Specially trained detectives have engaged in proactive domestic violence prevention, doubling their visits to households where domestic violence had occurred.

The visits run counter to the academic belief that little could be done to reduce domestic-related murders. The NYPD has assigned domestic violence officers to every precinct in the City. These specially trained officers made 76,000 domestic violence follow-up visits last year; compared to 38,000 in 2002. In that time, domestic violence-related murders have fallen by nearly half.

Source: Press release, “New Record In Crime Reduction” , Dec 26, 2007

Mandatory minimum sentencing for gun crimes

Mayor Bloomberg announced the launch of a subway ad campaign that warns about the increase in the mandatory minimum sentence for illegal possession of a loaded handgun. Backed by Mayor Bloomberg, this legislation passed in June. “Illegal guns don’t belong on our streets and we’re sending that message loud and clear,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’re determined to see that gun dealers who break the law are held accountable, and that criminals who carry illegal loaded guns serve serious time behind bars.
Source: Mayoral office press release PR-428-06 , Dec 7, 2006

Lock them up and throw away key, but no death penalty

On November 29, 2005, Mayor Bloomberg was asked about his views of the death penalty in the aftermath of the recent murder of an NYPD police officer. Mayor Bloomberg said, “I’d rather lock somebody up and throw away the key and put them in hard labor, the ultimate penalty that the law will allow, but I’m opposed to the death penalty.” Mayor Bloomberg has been steadfast in his opposition to the death penalty, speaking out against it many times in the past.
Source: New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty website , Dec 5, 2005

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Page last updated: Jun 02, 2019