Mike Bloomberg on Crime

Mayor of New York City (Independent)


Makeup of police department should reflect city population

Q: What about racial issues on the New York City Police Department?

BLOOMBERG: I made sure that our police department is a majority minority as is the city.

Q: You wanted the police department to reflect the demographics of the city?

BLOOMBERG: That's exactly right, reflect is the exact right word; because you want people to think that the cops understand them, their culture, and whatever. That doesn't mean you're going to find somebody that you have a lot in common with every time you meet a police officer. But if 1/10 of 1% of the citizens of New York come from Egypt, 1/10 of 1% of our police department would come from Egypt. The only place we don't mirror the population exactly is men and women because the city is 50/50 roughly and only about 35% of the police department are female.

Source: CNN S.C. Town Hall on eve of 2020 primary , Feb 26, 2020

First priority in crime is to cut murder rate; we cut by 50%

Q: In 2015, you said: "We put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods, because that's where all the crime is." You went on to say, "And the way you should get the guns out of the kids' hands is to throw them against the wall and frisk them." You've apologized for that policy. Comment?

BLOOMBERG: Looking at my time in office, the one thing that I'm really embarrassed about was how it turned out with stop-and-frisk. When I got into office, there were 650 murders a year in New York City. And I thought that my first responsibility was to give people the right to live. And we adopted a policy, which had been the policy that all big police departments use, of stop-and-frisk. It got out of control. And when I discovered that we were doing many, many, too many stop-and-frisks, we cut 95% of it out. I was trying to understand how we change our policy so we can keep the city safe, because the crime rate did go from 650, 50% down to 300. But we cannot go out and stop people indiscriminately.

Source: MSNBC's 9th Democrat primary debate, in Las Vegas , Feb 19, 2020

End cash bail; $2.5 billion for public defenders

Mike will fund $2.5 billion over 10 years for public defense--requiring grantees to have pay parity for defenders and prosecutors, as well as workload limits. Mike will also end federal cash bail and build new supervised release alternatives, end court fines and punitive fees, and propose a new federal sentencing structure to reverse an overly punitive legacy. He will de-criminalize the use and possession of marijuana, commute all existing sentences, and expunge all records.

Mike will launch a Department of Justice reform hub to evaluate and fund state-level criminal justice reform efforts, set a goal to reduce incarceration by 50% by 2030 and spread the use of alternatives to prison pioneered in New York. He will launch a national initiative to address unsanitary and inhumane prison conditions and will launch new education and job training programming. He will focus probation on re-integration, with a goal of cutting probation revocation by one-third nationally.

Source: 2020 Presidential campaign website MikeBloomberg.com , Jan 20, 2020

Restore voting rights to felons after they're out

Mike will restore full voting rights to felons who have served their sentences. These rights will be restored upon release. Pre-trial detainees will also be allowed to register and vote. States will no longer be permitted to use fines, fees, or other impediments to delay restoration of voting rights after a person is released from prison.
Source: 2020 Presidential campaign website MikeBloomberg.com , Jan 20, 2020

Stop and frisk: I was wrong and I am sorry

Bloomberg reversed his long-standing support of the aggressive "stop-and-frisk" policing strategy that he pursued for a decade and that led to the disproportionate stopping of black and Latino people across the city. "I was wrong," Bloomberg declared. "And I am sorry."

It is almost unheard-of for a former chief executive to renounce and apologize for a signature policy that helped define a political legacy. Bloomberg had steadfastly--and his critics say stubbornly--defended stop-and-frisk.

Source: San Juan Daily Star on˙2019 Democratic primary , Nov 19, 2019

I was wrong to rely on stop-and-frisk policing

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized for his administration's controversial reliance on stop-and-frisk policing in a speech at a Brooklyn church Sunday morning, saying, "I was wrong and I am sorry."

The stunning reversal comes as Bloomberg is expected to jump into the 2020 presidential race. "I got something important wrong. I got something really important wrong--stops on the black and Latino community," a contrite Bloomberg said as he addressed congregants at the Christian Cultural Center in East New York, one of the city's largest black churches. "I want you to know I realize back then I was wrong," he added. "And I am sorry."

Stop-and-frisk is one of the most controversial legacies of Bloomberg's twelve years in City Hall--struck down by a federal judge for its disproportionate effect on minority communities, but one Bloomberg continued to cling tightly to for years as he claimed credit of the city's sinking crime rates.

Source: New York Post on 2020 Democratic primary , Nov 17, 2019

Supported 1996 crime bill and stop-and-frisk policing

Bloomberg's record [favoring] stop-and-frisk policing is likely to prove a significant liability in the Democratic primary. But Bloomberg's spending on gun control has also earned him significant political capital among some progressives. Bloomberg concluded with a spirited defense of the 1996 crime bill that accelerated American mass incarceration, saying of liberals: "They should have loved that, they never even bothered to read it."
Source: 2020 Presidential campaign website MikeBloomberg.com , Nov 9, 2019

Crime dropped 32%; murders halved; 36% fewer behind bars

In 2013, NYC was the safest big city in the nation and reduced crime to historic lows, far outpacing the national reductions in crime. Crime dropped more than 32% and murders were cut nearly in half, compared to only a 15% reduction nationally. There were 36% fewer people behind bars, while the prison population nationally increased 3%.
Source: 2020 Presidential campaign website MikeBloomberg.com , Nov 9, 2019

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

Too much news radio is "all crime, all the time"

We bought a New York City radio station, WNEW, 1130 Kh on the AM dial. Our programming would be an extension of our other news coverage: politics, diplomacy, lifestyles, science, business, markets, the economy, war and peace. We would not do sensationalism. Our general standard would be: If I wouldn't want my children listening to it, it's not suitable for us to broadcast. Those wanting "all crime, all the time," the staple of much news radio, could go elsewhere.

We started day one by ignoring the fundamentals of conventional radio: no murder and mayhem, no prima donnas. Gone were the breathless on-the-scene reporters stumbling over the usual banalities, the self-important producers, and the separate on-air anchor talents whose only talent was reading others' copy and whose egos never got quite enough massaging.

Source: Bloomberg by Bloomberg, by Mike Bloomberg, p.115 , Aug 27, 2001

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Other big-city mayors on Crime: Mike Bloomberg on other issues:

Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee)
Bill de Blasio (D,NYC)
Rahm Emanuel (D,Chicago)
Bob Filner (D,San Diego)
Steven Fulop (D,Jersey City)
Eric Garcetti (D,Los Angeles)
Mike Rawlings (D,Dallas)
Marty Walsh (D,Boston)

Former Mayors:
Rocky Anderson (I,Salt Lake City)
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee,WI)
Mike Bloomberg (I,New York City)
Cory Booker (D,Newark,NJ)
Jerry Brown (D,Oakland,CA)
Julian Castro (D,San Antonio,TX)
Rudy Giuliani (R,New York City)
Phil Gordon (D,Phoenix)
Tom Menino (D,Boston)
Dennis Kucinch (D,Cleveland,OH)
Michael Nutter (D,Philadelphia)
Sarah Palin (R,Wasilla,AK)
Annise Parker (D,Houston)
Jerry Sanders (R,San Diego)
Antonio Villaraigosa (D,Los Angeles)
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Page last updated: Mar 25, 2021