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Arrests in New York dropped 66 percent after police officers were killed

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association in New York advised its members to consider their safety and make only "necessary" arrests after two officers were killed.

By Frances Burns
Arrests in New York dropped 66 percent after police officers were killed
New York police officers stand between pro- and anti-police protesters at city hall on Dec. 19. A day later, two officers were gunned down in Brooklyn and arrests dropped sharply in the following week. UPI/John Angelillo | License Photo

NEW YORK, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Arrests and tickets in New York for minor crimes -- the kind that cost Eric Garner his life -- dropped sharply in the week after two officers were killed.

The New York Post examined data for the week that began Dec.22, two days after Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were gunned down in Brooklyn by a man who then killed himself. The newspaper reported that total arrests were down 66 percent and traffic tickets and citations for minor offenses had dropped 94 percent.

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Garner died in July after police attempted to arrest him for selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island. His death and the recent failure to indict the police officer who placed him in a chokehold sparked widespread protests in the city and elsewhere, and Mayor Bill de Blasio's statements sympathizing with the protesters angered police officers and their union leaders.

On Tuesday, Roy Richter, president of the Captains Endowment Association, which represents the highest-ranking officers, advised his members against turning their backs on de Blasio at Liu's funeral on Sunday as some officers did at Ramos's funeral. The memo was not, however, a gesture of friendship to the mayor since Richter recommended "a cold steely silence," the New York Daily News reported.

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The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association made the slowdown almost official by warning its members against making arrests "unless absolutely necessary." The PBA said officers should consider their own safety.

The Post found that there were 10,069 tickets for traffic violations in the same week in December 2013 and 587 last week. There were 300 summonses issued for violations like public drinking last week, down from 4,831 a year earlier, and drug arrests dropped 84 percent from 382 to 63.

"Cops are concerned, after the reaction from City Hall on the Garner case, about de Blasio not backing them," an unnamed police officer told the Post.

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When de Blasio became mayor Jan. 1, he inherited a police department that had been working without a contract since 2010. He also inherited two controversial policing methods -- "stop and frisk" and the "broken windows" theory that clamping down on quality of life violations makes the city safer.

While Mayor Michael Bloomberg argued that warrantless stops and searches -- usually targeting young minority men -- "keeps the city safe," de Blasio ended the policy. The number of street searches dropped to 38,456 in the nine months following de Blasio's inauguration, while police made almost 700,000 stops in 2011.

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The Atlantic reported that crime rates have continued low since the stop and frisk policy ended with homicides down 7 percent in the first nine months of 2014 and robberies also down.

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