BAY RIDGE — According to Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, the implementation of new state bail reform laws could take New York City back to the pre-1990s crime waves.
Malliotakis held a press conference Tuesday, Nov. 19, in front of the 68th Precinct in Bay Ridge to highlight the recent uptick in crime in the community and speak out against the Criminal Justice and Bail Reform laws that are set to take effect on New Year’s Day. She was joined at the conference by Brooklyn Conservative Party Chair Fran Vella-Marrone and former District Attorney Michael Tannousis.
“During the last couple of months, there have been really disturbing crimes that have been taking place in and around the Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights area,” said Malliotakis. “We’ve seen multiple incidents including home invasions, attempted rape, sexual assault, subway groping, burglary and assault.”
Malliotakis called the recent surge in neighborhood crime “a continuance of a disturbing trend that I believe is directly associated with the environment that has been created by bad policies and rhetoric that have let the criminals believe that they can get away with this type of behavior.”
During the news conference, Malliotakis slammed bail reform as “a naive and dangerous experiment that undercuts our criminal justice system and favors the criminal class over New York’s law-abiding citizens.”
She claimed that many judges in the city have been releasing people without bail, even people who have extensive criminal histories. “They could have a dozen, two dozen, three dozen convictions and they can still walk out the door and be released without bail, hoping they’ll return to court on their own recognizance without consideration if the individual is a threat to public safety,” said Malliotakis.
Tannousis concurred, contending that the new legislation is a very dangerous precedent. “For the past eight years as a prosecutor I have seen defendants coming into the criminal justice system every day and it’s become a revolving door. They come in, they go out, they come back,” said Tannousis.
Malliotakis drew a correlation between pending bail reform and the recent spate of vandalism in Bay Ridge. “This past weekend, while most New Yorkers slept, vandals slashed tires and keyed over 30 cars parked along a stretch of Shore Road in Bay Ridge,” said Malliotakis. “This is just the latest in a rash of at least 35 similar incidents that have occurred on the streets of Bay Ridge over the past month and, along with other crimes, is a local example of a trend we are seeing in neighborhoods across our city.”
Overall crime in New York City has declined for 28 straight years, and is now at a level not seen since the 1950s, according to NYPD data. Arrests for both major felonies and low-level offenses have declined steadily since the 1990s, and the city expects to shrink its jail population further and close Rikers Island by 2026.
In the 68th Precinct, which includes parts of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, police have this year seen a 2.86 percent crime spike compared to this point in 2018, according to the most recent police data relating to the seven index crimes: murder, rape, robbery, burglary, felony assault, grand larceny and grand larceny auto.
Seen from a slightly longer view, however, crime has decreased by 7.59 percent in the precinct over the past two years, and by more than 80 percent over the past 25 years, again with respect to the seven index crimes, as charted through CompStat.
Malliotakis — who said that she had a bill to repeal the bail reform law that takes effect in January — raised concerns that, after bail reforms take effect, the majority of those arrested will be returned to the streets hours later, without any bail required and nothing more than a date to appear in court.
“This includes individuals with extensive criminal records and those charged with criminally negligent homicide, drug dealing, stalking, strangulation, assault and many more equally heinous acts,” said Malliotakis. “Any person with an ounce of common sense will tell you that this is a recipe for lawlessness and violence on the streets of our city which we simply can’t allow.
“We want to make sure that those individuals who are a threat to public safety or have extensive criminal histories are not eligible for bail,” she added. “That’s what I think should have been done.”
She said one solution that would keep unconvicted people out of jail without releasing them on their own recognizance is to ensure that individuals get their constitutionally protected right to a speedy trial.
“But that does not mean that we just open up the floodgates and allow repeat criminals out the door to continue to wreak havoc on our community,” Malliotakis added. “And to get them to return to court, Mayor de Blasio wants to incentivize them by giving them Mets tickets, movie tickets and gift cards. That has to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard from this mayor.”
City Councilmember Justin Brannan disagrees with Malliotakis.
“Fearmongering and blaming policies that haven’t even gone into effect yet does absolutely nothing,” Brannan told this paper. “That’s not the job people elect you to do. You need to address the issues at hand and give the cops the support they need to do their jobs. Anybody can point fingers. That’s easy. But, as an elected official, your job is to solve problems. Your job is not to blame other people.”
Brannan continued, “I’ve gone a step further and put my money where my mouth is. I’ve offered $5,000 of my own money towards any information that leads to an arrest [of the person vandalizing cars in the neighborhood]. This is out of control and this guy needs to be caught.”