NY Crime Drops
December 4, 2017: Transcript: Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner O’Neill Host Press Conference To Discuss Crime Statistics
Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: Alright. Good morning, everybody. First and foremost, I’d just like to thank Mike Baker – Inspector Baker – for hosting us this morning, and his NCOs. And then as everybody knows Chief Gomez made an announcement a couple weeks ago that he’s going to be leaving towards the end of December. I’ll have plenty of nice things to say about him over the coming weeks. But I just – first, Carlos, I’d like to thank you for everything you’ve done for the city.
Chief of Department Carlos Gomez, NYPD: Thank you.
Commissioner O’Neill: Personally – on a personal level, everything that you’ve helped me with over the last 14 months, I don’t think any of this could have been accomplished without you.
Chief Gomez: Thank you.
Commissioner O’Neill: But I’ll have plenty more nice things to say about you.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Just a warm up.
Commissioner O’Neill: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for being here. In a moment you’ll hear from the Mayor, and then Dermot Shea will give you the rundown of November’s crime numbers. And then we’ll take a better look at how the city’s faring as we approach the end of the year. We really can’t overstate how remarkable it is, how we continue to push crime down.
When I say we, it’s not just the NYPD. I talk about that all the time. It’s everyone that lives, works, and visits here and all our partners in law enforcement. I’ve been in this business a long time – 35 years next January. In a month. I can’t believe it’s going to be 35 years.
I’ve been going to CompStat since 1996 and to have a year like we had last year in 2016 was pretty amazing. But the fact that what we’re doing this year continuing that trend and making those decreases go even deeper is really nothing short of amazing.
We’ve seen the lowest number of index crimes here since the ‘50s and we’re – with informed, engaged, and empowered communities, we’re going to keep pushing those numbers down even further.
I get asked all the time, especially by you guys, how far can we push crime down. And I think working with everybody in the city and working with all our partners, we can keep pushing those numbers down.
We didn’t get here by accident. Nothing happens by accident. We owe a great deal to the effort of the men and women who put on a uniform every day, go out and work hard fighting crime, and keeping people safe – the cops out there today in this precinct, all around the five boroughs, and also the thousands of other cops we came before them over the past 20 or 30 years.
More recently, though, we’ve seen people in neighborhoods all across the city really step up and take active roles in helping us. New Yorkers are understanding that public safety is a shared responsibility. We say it all the time and what it means is this – no one knows a neighborhood, a street, or a block better than those who live and work there every day. These are the good people who know exactly who the bad people are.
And increasingly, it’s the good people who are strengthening their relationships with the NCOs – the neighborhood coordination officers – their steady sector cops and everyone else who works in a busy command like this.
And it’s working. People are calling 9-1-1 or waving down police cars when they want to report something. They’re calling or texting their NCOs on their cell phones when something isn’t right. And we need that opportunity to investigate and they give us that.
In my opinion, it’s not just that people should call when they know something’s not right, it’s that – and I strongly believe this – they have an obligation to call because we’re all in this together.
We’ve been saying for nearly four years now, it’s a relatively small percentage of people in this city who are responsible for most of the violence. And as we continue to identify the small universe of criminals – and it is very small, we’re talking about only a few thousand people – we’re taking them off the streets with laser-like precision.
We’re constantly working very closely with our District Attorneys, our US Attorneys, to pre-indict these individuals for a host of violent crimes and we’re taking them off the streets. We’re seeing more and more meaningful prison sentences at the end of it all. It’s that method of precision policing, that’s the vehicle within our neighborhood policing philosophy that’s leading to lower and lower crime rates even past already historic lows.
As we sit here this morning, we are 51 homicides lower than we were at this point last year – 51. And the raw numbers through last night are 263 homicides versus 314 last year. Think of the families kept intact, the lives not disrupted or ended. And when it comes to shootings, which account for 52 percent of our homicides this year, we’re 207 lower than we were last year.
That’s incredible. It really is. It speaks to that brand of precision policing and says that the hard working men and women of this police department are out there every day, every night, and are doing their job.
So, thank you for being here this morning, and I’d like to turn it over to Mayor de Blasio.
Mayor: Thank you very much, Commissioner. And congratulations, it’s a great thing to be able to, month after month, offer my congratulations for sustained progress to you and all the leadership of the NYPD, and especially to the men and women who have done this amazing work – truly some great progress we’re going to report on today.
I also want to take a moment upfront to talk about Carlos Gomez, and I’ll have other opportunities too as well. But I want to start now because it’s been just a wonderful experience working together. You’ve been a great Chief of Department and it caps a great career.
And, wow, to come in the role and contribute to this kind of progress – I hope you feel great satisfaction because you’ve done something amazing here. And you know I remember very vividly the day we named Carlos to this role. You know some people literally personify the American dream and you are one of those people, and the dream that people think of when they think of New York City.
You know, classic immigrant story and a story of personal perseverance and success, rising up through the ranks, making a huge impact all over the city. Since Vanessa Gibson’s here, I will note a particularly big impact in the Bronx, and one of the people who really did the most to make the Bronx a safer place.
So, I just want to thank you. When we all started out together four years ago, neighborhood policing was just the beginning of an idea. Now, it’s a living breathing thing that’s made a huge, huge impact and it’s going to get better all the time.
And Carlos Gomez is one of the people who brought that great idea to life and made it work for all New Yorkers. So, Carlos, congratulations and thank you.
Chief Gomez: Thank you.
Mayor: Let me just thank as well – I mentioned Council Member Vanessa Gibson, the Chair of the Public Safety Committee, thank you so much for being with us in all the work we do together. Thank you, Senator Brian Benjamin, for being with us, and your partnership.
I want to say this is a precinct that has been outstanding. Congratulations to Inspector Mike Baker and all the men and women under his command here in the 3-2. They’ve also done a great job of working with neighborhood partners including the Crisis Management System.
There is a reason for what you’re going to hear in a moment – the outstanding progress made in this precinct. It was one of the earlier precincts to take on the NCO program and was one of the precincts that really was in the early waves of the neighborhood policing initiative. And this one has a lot to show for it.
So, we wanted to be here to really give them so much great for what they’ve achieved.
Look, many things had to happen to get us here – obviously having 2,000 more officers on patrol than we had two years ago. Again, thank you to Vanessa and the City Council for spearheading that. New training, new equipment – but really I believe most fundamentally the neighborhood policing strategy has been the leading edge of change.
And this precinct got the NCOs in October, 2015. It’s been seeing consistent reductions in crime ever since.
Comparing this point this year to the same point last year here in the 3-2 Precinct, overall crime is down over 11 percent, murder down 33 percent, rape down almost 50 percent just in the course of one year compared to the last, and that’s outstanding progress.
It is because real trust and real communication’s been built with the community. And as the Commissioner said, and we hear it every single day from NCOs and from other officers, this dynamic is leading the public to get more involved and to offer more information.
Our officers need information to be able to do their jobs as professionals the way they best want to do them and the way they aspire to do them. They need information. So, when a community resident points out a drug location or an illegal social club or someone who has an illegal weapon or they helped to identify a gang member and the activities that they’re undertaking, all of these actions help the police to do more and more. It is a force multiplier to have the people of this city constantly supporting the police with good information that leads to arrests and disrupts crime. And that’s what neighborhood policing is helping to achieve.
So, you know, I have heard this time and time again. An NCO develops a particular relationship – it might be a store owner, it might be a building superintendent, it might be with a young person – and that leads to information that stops a crime or leads to an arrest. That’s what we want to see more and more of as neighborhood policing deepens.
The 3-2 is just a fantastic example of how this works and we expect great things ahead for this precinct.
But let’s talk about the city overall. So, this month of November just passed, was the safest November in recorded history in this city. Overall crime down over seven percent, almost eight percent compared to last year. The fewest shooting and the fewest murders of any November in our history.
Shootings down 26 percent compared to the previous November, murders down 20 percent compared to the previous November. Here’s the bottom line, if these trends continue through this month, the people in this city will have had the safest year on record in over half a century. That’s the trajectory we’re on right now.
And I could not be more proud and more appreciative to all the leaders gathered around me and especially to all the men and women of the NYPD who have achieved this.
We of course – we’ve said it before – will never rest on our laurels. This department doesn’t know how to rest on its laurels. It only wants to keep making more progress. We’re safest big city in America. We’re going to go farther.
Just a few words in Spanish –
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, I turn to Chief Dermot Shea.
Chief of Control Strategies Dermont Shea, NYPD: Good morning everyone, just a little more word about –
Mayor: Have we stolen all your thunder?
Chief Shea: No, well, I have to say a word about Chief Carlos Gomez, who I have for the last couple years shared the ComStat meetings weekly with. And it was a privilege and an honor, I will say that. Anyone who knows Carlos knows that he has many loves but included in those loves are baseball and sports analogies.
Chief Shea: I thought about the point he is leaving the NYPD and what we have accomplished recently so I googled what sports heroes went out on top. And Carlos, I had to get a – I tried for the Mets, I didn’t wind up with the Mets.
Chief Shea: So I got Joe DiMaggio, 1951 after winning the ninth straight World Series, ninth World Series not straight – hung it up from baseball. So Joe DiMaggio never pushed, Carlos as you’ve never won a World Series, Joe DiMaggio never pushed robberies down 21 straight months and so tremendous – our loss, truly our loss. Here’s what Carlos’s team has accomplished recently in the NYPD when we look at our statistics.
Nine straight months of reduced index crime, 15 of the last 16 months we have knocked down index crime in New York City. 21 straight months reduced robberies, shootings down 12 of the last 13 months. We’ve had 52 days this year without a shooting in New York City. And for those of us that have been around for a while that is unbelievable. In just two years we have doubled that number. 52 days this year no one went to a hospital in New York City after having been shot.
Arrests down 22 straight months and when you start to talk about what you’ve heard the precision policing, the neighborhood policing and the strategies coming together, it’s not just about the crime victims. It’s about how we are getting where we are going – arrests down 22 straight months.
There is still more work to do and we remain focused on what we have been preaching for the last four years – focus on small numbers of people whether we are talking about sex offensives, property crimes, violence or this month I will talk about elderly crime. Small numbers of people doing numbers that occasionally spike up.
For the month of November murders, 20 recorder murders – that’s down from 25, it’s a 20 percent reduction. Of the 20 murders that we recorded in November, 13 of the 20 where by gunfire, two where by arson, one was by a vehicle and four where by cutting instruments. So we continue to see the majority of our murders committed by firearms.
Rape. We have recorded 111 rapes – up from 96. That’s a 16 percent increase. On the rapes, particularly disturbing when I look at the rapes – we’ve had – when you finished August in New York City we were down seven percent rapes for the year. September we were up four rapes, but October and November – two months in a row, we have seen double digit increases percentage wise in rapes. That coincides with a lot of the news media coverage of late. Very difficult to say the role that plays in it but that is two months in a row of double digit increases.
Robberies – November down nine percent. Felonious assaults down 13 percent. Burglaries down seven percent. Property crimes side – grand larcenies down five percent, stolen vehicles down 12 percent. When you add up the index crime for the month of November, down eight percent overall. It’s a reduction of over 600 index crimes.
And that now brings us to the shooting incidents – down 26 percent in shootings for November, 48 versus 65, 17 fewer shooting incidents. On transit related crime – up nine percent, 232 versus 212. It’s an increase of 20 crimes. And it’s being driven by grand larcenies. We had an increase citywide in transit for November of 26 grand larcenies.
And when you talk about the recidivism on certain crimes – this is one that we will be dealing with our partners in the very near future. And how do we tackle small numbers of individuals – whether it is cutting pockets of sleeping passengers or pick pockets on the F train that drive those numbers so we will be having those conversations shorty.
Year to date, that brings us to now – murders, and these numbers that I’m quoting are slightly off the Commissioner’s because I stop the clock on November 30th. Through November 30th – 259 murders versus 312, down 17 percent, 53 fewer murdered through the 30th of November. And of the murders through November 30th, 126 by gun and that’s down 55. So we are 55 fewer people in New York City shot and killed this year. Rapes –through November 30th year to date down two percent. Robberies down ten percent. Felonious assaults down four percent. Burglary down eight and DC PI can follow up with all the specific numbers behind these percentages.
Grand larceny is down three percent year to date. Grand larceny now is making up 45 percent of our overall crime in New York City. Stolen vehicles are down 11 percent. And that brings the total index crime through November 30th with one month to go down six percent this year. It’s a reduction of over 5,100 crimes. And as we have said before, we are well on our way to finishing below 100,000 crime for the first time.
Shooting incidents, year to date through November 30th down 23 percent – 211 fewer incidents, 245 fewer victims more importantly. Transit crime up one percent year to date and it’s an increase of 13 crimes city wide in transit. In transit, what are we seeing? 67 percent of the crime in transit, different that the city – much more is grand larcenies. And again, when we talk transit we talk specifically three types of grand larcenies – snatches, pick pockets and we talk the lush workers, property taken when someone is asleep or they put down a bag unattended. What drives it, the pick pockets and the unattended property, not the snatches.
When you look at transit related crime Brooklyn is up 58 grand larcenies and the Bronx is up 33 grand larcenies. So again when we have these follow up, take our temperatures, where are we, what we can do better as we look forward to next year – Brooklyn and the Bronx, grand larcenies driving the city wide increase in transit so we will be having out meetings with our partners on those topics.
Housing, year to date down seven percent and just as a summary where we are with one month to go city wide, 5,100 plus crimes down. Every borough of New York City is down and index crime and it remains – every index crime in New York City is down. Thank you
Mayor: Well done.
Unknown: Okay we’ll start with any questions specific about crime and then we can move on to other topics. Crime questions?
Question: What do you attribute the increase in rapes to? You mentioned the media’s coverage, can you talk about that a bit more?
Chief Shea: Sure, we’ll so we’re down two percent in rapes year to date. What I don’t like is that at the end of August we were down seven percent. So when you zero in on these last three months, September, October, November, September was – off the top of my head I think we were four rapes up. We see fluctuations in many crime types but October and November we’ve seen double digit increases. Now that does coincide with, obviously what’s been going in news the last couple of months.
We had 111 rapes for the month of November. When you look at those 111, and I have, there’s nothing directly that I can contribute and say, here we go this is exactly why it’s increasing. But we do see that coinciding at the same time we have a lot of media coverage. We continue to see a lot of rapes that are being reported outside this period, outside of 2017. So, when we see a rape that ‘I was raped in 2010 and now seven years later I’m reporting it’, we encourage that because we want to get as much statistical information as we can to try and combat this crime.
But just a rough breakdown of what we saw this month, and I think it’ll give you an idea. 111 rapes. 21 were committed by the boyfriend. 21 were – was no force per se used but it’s a rape by law because of the age of the parties involved. So this is young girls having intercourse with an older male, consensual but they cannot consent because of the age. That’s 21 incidents of that. Nine were committed by family members. That’s the uncle, that’s the step-father excreta. Nine out of 111 were committed by strangers. And that’s consistent with what we see over the long year. Less than ten percent of rapes are committed by strangers. The largest category, and it’s a big bucket unfortunately, this is some of what we run into is known-to. The individual are known-to, but it could be too many to list at this press conference, the variety of whether it’s dates, whether it’s meeting at a bar, whether it’s social media or internet involved. We had some incidents that met on Tinder. But certainly not driving it. It’s a little of everything.
Can I point to increased out of year reporting this month, no. But it would be difficult to ignore what’s been going on in media the last couple of months. But we are certainly – I can tell you that the same three months we have a very significant increase in our rape arrests. And I would like to see zero rape arrests because we have zero rapes. But that’s just a quick overview of what we’ve been seeing.
Question: [Inaudible] people who reported the rapes this month, are they reporting rapes that happened –
Chief Shea: Both.
Question: – this year or was it past years.
Chief Shea: We generally see, and Marica I can get back to you, off the top of my head I think it’s in the neighborhood of 15-20 percent of the rapes, but I can solidify that after, occur out of this year. And that’s something – we frequently see rapes reported late. For – for obvious reasons.
Question: Along those lines, are – is the detective squad getting the sense that survivors have more confidence that they’ll be believed now in the context of the news reporting you’ve been talking about whether it’s the post- Weinstein effect, etcetera.
Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah just, Andrew, it’s – so far this year, these are statistics, we’re up to about 30 cases where people have made complaints outside of this year. So that’s 285 verses 255. We’re seeing that happening now as we talk in real time. Whether they think they can finally get resolution, I hope that’s the case to be honest with you. This – we point to certain statistics and we wonder whether if that’s what it is, we can’t say it. But it certainly merits discussion, these numbers and people coming forward. And that’s what we want them to have. So, that’s what I have to say about it. It’s just that it looks that more – 30 more people have come forward in the last year. That’s good news. And we hope they find resolution. There’s nothing worse than this that could happen. These are rapes alone.
Question: Is there any kind of tweaking of a strategy or a campaign either to get more people to come forward or to – more prevention or education?
Commissioner O’Neill: I think working with neighborhood policing and our NCOs and more –Bob has put more people into Special Victims. I think that’s having people come forward which is what we want. You know, each rape that is reported is fully investigated by the seasoned professionals in Special Victims.
Question: Can you just expand upon the number 30. You’re saying that these people, they would see the coverage, they would read about all the coverage that we’ve seen for the last couple of months and they would say, hey maybe that happened to me and –
Commissioner O’Neill: We can’t speak to that. We hope that’s the case. But we did see a decided increase in people coming forward from past years. So what you’re saying, we can’t answer definitively. At least I can’t. But were seeing people coming forward and having faith in the NYPD. And that’s what we want to happen.
Question: [Inaudible] number 30 [inaudible] clarify that’s –
Commissioner O’Neill: 286 – I’m sorry 285 thus far this year outside the year complaints. Verses 255 last year. So it’s an increase of 30 aggregate.
Question: So these are old cases.
Commissioner O’Neill: These are old cases outside – that happened outside 2017.
Question: [Inaudible] outside the year cases [inaudible] last year or –
Commissioner O’Neill: I can’t go – I’m not going to go into dates if it was –
Question: You don’t have previous [inaudible]
Commissioner O’Neill: I can’t give you the year by year. I can’t give that to you. This is the number that I have right now.
Question: [Inaudible] increase in the transit crimes along the same lines too, more reporting, combination of just more crimes, more reporting?
Chief Shea: So when we see – when we look at the transit crime it’s up one percent for the year. I think I gave you the number already, in terms of overall crime it’s a fairly small number. Two thirds of the overall crime is grand larcenies on transit which is what we normally see. When you look at breakdowns on what’s driving it two things that keyed, at least in my mind, was there was a fairly significant increase of grand larcenies in two boroughs. And that being Brooklyn and the Bronx. You know, we – it’s not out of the ordinary to have fluctuations throughout the city in particular crime types. For example earlier this year we had a Transit District 11 in the Bronx, we had a transit spike that, you know, call the parties in, what are we doing, what do we have to do resource wise, and quickly got that under control. But, when you look at transit overall its grand larceny driven and what we see is pickpockets doing a lot of crimes. There’s probably a small number of crimes that are recorded top-side, if you will, that occurred on transit, we just can’t prove that because people discover property missing later.
But, I could tell you that a tremendous amount of work gets done by the Transit Bureau. Their field intelligence officers, their anti-crime units in plain clothes, as well as the uniformed officers. They know firsthand who these pickpockets are. These are career criminals. They wake up every day, they go to work, unfortunately their job is to go onto the transit system and do pickpockets. So it is a cat and mouse game that has been going on for quite some time and you know, I get daily briefs on some of the work, and I see Chief Coogan over there, that the men and women that work for him do. A lot of outstanding work going on below ground in New York City. And again, when you look at the ridership, when you look at the historical trends in transit, New York City transit system is incredibly safe. When you look at the crimes that are occurring we want to see zero, and that’s what the Mayor expects of us, and that’s what we’re always shooting for. But we do see fluctuations from time to time.
Commissioner O’Neill: You need to put that in perspective too. I think there’s five to six million people that ride the subway each day and there’s – [inaudible] what is it six – six index crimes a day in the subway. So it’s one in a million. Those numbers are really low.
In the back row?
Question: On the rape statistics, you said that there’s been an increase in arrests for rape-related crimes, and then also is there any indication – and this number may not be available – but on the rapes that were reported for past years, the 285 this year or the 255 last year, how does the percentage of the people who have been arrested for rapes that were reported after they occurred?
Chief Shea: You’re a little too far in the weeds. I can certainly get back to you on that. This is what I’ll say – rapes are down, just to say it for the third time, year-to-date in New York City, two percent. We have seen an increase the last three months. Most particularly in the last two months, double-digit increases. Over that same time period the last three months, with that rise in rape complaints we have seen a significant rise in rape arrests the last three months, which you would expect. Overall, for the year-to-date, I believe the rape arrests are down. Remember that rapes are down year to date, and remember it takes times, so as time goes on Bob Boyce’s detectives will be making additional, I can guarantee it, rapes. It just takes time for these things to play out, and we are still about three weeks, three-and-a-half weeks left in this year. So last three months a little uptick and a rise in rape arrests for that same time period.
Mayor: Let me just add here – first of all, we really want to encourage reporting. Crucial that anyone who’s been a victim feel they can and must come forward, and that they will be trusted, they will be supported. Remember, God forbid this happens to anyone, if the perpetrator is not reported, then they could strike again. So I understand this is often a really wrenching, difficult, horrible situation that people are put in – and particularly women are put in – but reporting gives the NYPD a chance to stop the problem and to bring justice, so I want to really encourage that. And I think it’s also a moment in history where obviously many, many people and particularly many women have decided to no longer remain silent, and that is helping to protect everyone else. So I really want to encourage people to come forward. I also want to note with tremendous appreciation a separate but related reality.
The NYPD is doing something extraordinary – I’ve talked to a lot of precinct commanders about this – in the way it addresses domestic violence, which tragically does interplay with rape quite a bit. The NYPD is now very aggressive in terms of returning to a family that has a domestic violence condition and constantly checking in, showing visible NYPD presence literally at their door step to send a powerful message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated and that the NYPD is watching. This is also how you stop the next tragedy from happening, so I think NYPD has shown extraordinary sensitivity and extraordinary persistence in following up on any situation like this whether it’s rape or domestic violence or the horrible connection of the two. We really want to encourage people to come forward for your own good but also for the good of others.
Commissioner O’Neill: Tony?
Question: Commissioner Shea, Chief Shea rather, the shootings are – about half of the homicides are done by gunfire –
Chief Shea: 52 percent, yes.
Question: Historically how does that stack up and what are the other methods in terms of [inaudible]?
Chief Shea: Historically, 55 percent if the number generally – give or take a percentage point or two – 55 percent of the murders in New York City are committed by gunfire. It’s a little less this year. We’ve had, you know, we’ve come up every month and told you exactly what we’re doing – focusing in on the worst of the worst, focusing in on individuals that repeatedly are showing up with guns, whether its search warrants by John Miller’s FIOs or Terry Monahan anti-crime units making a car stop and arresting gang members, or it’s gang takedowns with Bob Boyce. Everything is coming together, and you’re seeing – I believe the number I quoted was 55 fewer deaths by gunfire this year. In addition to the homicides by gunfire, homicides by cutting instruments down 14 with year, so that’s another bit of very positive news. Domestic homicides down this year. I was told to keep it short, but I can go on and on and recite statistics. There is a lot of good happening in New York City, and that’s the point I wanted to – Carlos Gomez, I’m envious because he is clearly going out on top.
Question: Who can address what’s been going on in this precinct? Why the numbers are so impressive and what are you tackling specifically?
Commissioner O’Neill: Terry Monahan can talk about that, Juliet.
Chief of Patrol Terrence Monahan, NYPD: We have the C.O. here, Mike Baker. We can probably talk a little bit later afterwards. But the 3-2, again, it’s been up for just about two and a half years with neighborhood policing and if you talk – a lot of our NCOs, NCO sergeants are out there, and these are men that are dedicated to the neighborhood. They know the people. They know the residents. They know the 99 percent of the good people from the one percent of the bad. When incidents happen – I know our squads had some shootings where our NCOs have sat down with them, looked at video and said I know that kid, I saw him, and we’ve been able to solve a lot of cases along that way. It’s that cooperation between the ground level cop on the street with the detectives up in the squad working together with the community, everyone joining together and kind of resolving, getting that one percent off the street. There’s been some gang issues here. There was a very good takedown done by one of Bobby Boyce’s teams – Jimmy [inaudible] – they took out a good number of gang members, I believe the good fellow crew, so there’s still some ongoing investigations. There’s still some people out there that we need to remove.
Question: Does that contribute more to the crime numbers? The gang activities?
Chief Monahan: As everyone here has said, this is a combination. This isn’t one specific thing. It’s the precision policing, it’s the relationships, it’s everyone working as a team together to resolve the issues – the community, the cops on the street, the detective up in the squad – one solidified, unified force working together to make this a better community.
Commissioner O’Neill: Hey Juliette, we’ve – this became a neighborhood policing command back in September of 2015, so that was phase two, we started out with the original four and we went to the bigger commands, and the men and women in the 3-2 have embraced this. If you talk to the NCOs, if you talk to the precinct commander, if you talk to the people in the community, it’s a new way of living. It hasn’t always been like that up in the 3-2, so I think that’s really helping them.
Question: What do you think engendered the trust? What’s going on here about –
Commissioner O’Neill: I think – I think its personal relationships. You know the way that we changed the model. It’s not only the NCO’s, it’s not just the Neighborhood Coordination Officers, the sector cops, they have a, you know, a third of their day when they are not answering 9-11 calls, they can actually build, you know, established relationships and build on that. As the years go on, it’s going to get better and better.
Mayor: Hey Juliette, I want to add to that, you know, again I am the layman up here, and so I just talk to everyday people and ask them what they’ve experienced. And I also ask these guys to tell me from their perspective what they are trying to elicit in their relationship with a community.
So, I’ll give you a great example – the – I’ll give you two. One, I heard this constantly with Public Housing Residents. They now, I go on town hall meetings and everything, they point out their NCO, they speak to them about – as their – they still talk about their NCO, right? There is a total sense of this is an officer who we know, who we like, who we feel connected to, is looking for us, we’re looking out for him or her.
So it’s very personal, which is really a big difference of the model of the past, but I’ll give you the other example on a vertical patrol as a sort of something that used to in the past often be a very tense dynamic, so now something like that is with the NCO’s who know the people in the building leading the way. So they know, Mrs. Smith, and Mr. Jones, and whoever else, right?
And they are saying hello in the hallway because they are already have a relationship and people know each other, so when you are doing a patrol when everyone understands, they feel respected, they know that you know they live there, but also be able to know who doesn’t live there more easily, it changes the whole dynamic.
So I have been really impressed at how this very human dynamic, the numbers are powerful, the strategies are powerful, it comes down to humanity in the end. Someone knows there officer, it’s a whole new day, and the officer knows them, by first name. And that’s something as simple as the fact that more and more people are saying hell to their officers, thank you to their officers, makes a huge difference.
Commissioner O’Neill: In the second row, hold on, right there.
Question: Yeah, so the CompStat data is showing hate crime reports up by nine percent as of November 25 to December 2, what can you say about what is maybe driving the continued increase this year in hate crime reports, and is there anything you guys are doing differently in terms of how you investigate it [inaudible]
Commissioner O’Neill: Hey Bob you want to talk about that? I think the numbers have actually leveled off since the beginning of the year.
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, NYPD: The numbers have – yes, exactly right Commissioner, the numbers have leveled off significantly. About this time last year, we had a big increase, it’s – so we are going against those numbers right now, so we are down substantially, we still see anti-Semitic issues, but not what they were this time last year. So, and I hate to use this analogy, but there is a decrease in our increase. That’s the best way to say. Is that, we’ve seen it, really, the numbers dramatically. We still have incidents, I had incidents in the Bronx yesterday in a nursing home, it made no sense to anybody, but I think that was fueled by mental disease, personally. So we are on top of it, we see the statistic decrease, we are happy with that. We saw the bulge and now we are – it’s kind of like getting a benefit of that bulge we saw about this time last year.
Question: A lot of kudos for Chief Gomez, but that opens up a position at the end of the month –
Unknown : We are on crime right now and then we will move on, alright? Anyone who is crime?
Commissioner O’Neill: Dean, just for the record I would have answered your question.
Mayor: Wait, wait, wait, we saw hand go up, let’s – let’s finish the crime questions.
Question: I just have a quick question about whether you have any idea or can talk about a bit about the motive behind the Golden Krust Founder suicide over the weekend and whether that firearm was licensed in New York City?
Commissioner O’Neill: The firearm was licensed to him through our License Bureau, as you know he was a notable businessman within the city. This happened 5:00 pm Saturday night, it was a shock to everyone involved, clearly it is a suicide, we have a suicide note which I would never divulge to anybody, that’s personal. But it’s clearly shows that he was in crisis at some point. So, one shot, and heard by people who responded immediately, and that’s what we have right now.
Question: Does the Mayor know about this question, and then I will go to the other one. I mean so many people knew Lowell Hawthorne, I mean I’ve interviewed him a number of times –
Question: – big smile, likes to joke. I mean – your reaction? He is a leader up in their in the Bronx and of course the city.
Mayor: And he achieved something great. I mean it is a beautiful immigrant story, create a great business, one that is pretty legendary in the neighborhoods of New York City. I’ve eaten many a patty myself.
And you know created a lot of jobs for people, and a pillar of the Caribbean community, and involved in the community in so many ways, it’s a shock. It’s a total shock. But you don’t know what goes through people’s minds, you know, and that’s – what kind of personal tragedy, what kind of situation leads someone to think they have no other option, and as Chirlane would say, there is always a mental health component too, and a lot of times it does not show itself. You know, someone can be a pillar of community and wear a nice suit and one thing or the other, but still be grappling with a mental health issue because, generally you would say, even if you come upon hear times you wouldn’t take your own life. Something else has to be going on, but what a horrible, horrible loss for the community.
Question: The city took – you announced earlier this year that the investigating drug overdoses as homicides. And the few homicide numbers that you gave today, or the few homicides that we say today, I’m wondering if those investigations account for any of those homicides? Can you talk a little bit about how that’s been now that we are in December?
Chief Boyce: So I’ll address it really quickly. Our program was to disrupt distribution. Police play a role in this, but not the entire role obviously in reducing opioid overdoses, so our role was to investigate each one. Bring them to fruition, bring cases which we have done, and we will continue to do.
Last night I got 45 keys of heroin in Jersey. This is something we do all the time. We have 84 kilograms recovered in November, alright we are off to a good start in November. Thus far this year, 508 kilograms of heroin, some 71 – over 71 kilograms of fentanyl, coming from different areas. Heroin coming from Mexico usually by truck. Fentanyl coming through the mail – both private and public mail systems in from China. We fight that battle every day. So we take down a lot of cases in this city on narcotic uses. We start from the beginning, we just lost a teacher in the Bronx this past weekend – I am sorry Thursday. Same exact thing came out of nowhere. Alright, so it’s a big problem for us. Something that the men and women in the narcotic squads, and our advanced narcotic squads do every day – disrupt local distributors and address trafficking through networks that we’ve forged with our federal partners.
Question: Do you have a number on the investigations?
Chief Boyce: I do but I have to pull it out of this thing, it’s all on this. I tell you what for the month we’ve taken 14 – November, 14 drug organizations down for the month of November. Seven gang, 14 drug.
Commissioner O’Neill: Dean.
Question: I’ve got kudos for Chief Gomez.
Commissioner O’Neill: Do you want to ask that question again?
Unknown: It’s Joe DiMaggio.
Mayor: Chief DiMaggio.
Question: Obviously with the Chief retiring, that opens up a big position in the Police Department and maybe a few others. Tish James as Public Advocate publically said last week she would like to see woman moved up to some of these key positions, number one, number two etc. And some Latino paternal organizations are saying they want to make sure that they’re represented at those top ranks, you know the top three or four. Your response to folks [inaudible] as well. People really speaking out publically about the kind of person they would like to see at the top.
Commissioner O’Neill: We are constantly looking to build leadership. If you look at our commanding officer ranks you’ll see that and as we go up, go up the ladder you’ll see that also. We have a Police Department that reflects the diversity of the city. We want to make sure that we have that at the executive ranks also. There hasn’t been a final decision made. But I will guarantee you the person that gets the job will be the most qualified person.
Question: I have a crime question. Earlier this year you reorganized the Vice squad to focus on victims of sex trafficking and a couple of weeks ago there was a woman who jumped to her death during an operation. I am wondering what the outcome of – is – if it’s been finished. What the outcome of the IAB investigation is and some of the numbers and contacts somehow the re-organization has impacted the rest?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, that was force investigation did that. That was a considered death in custody. Although we were not, I don’t think we were in the apartment. Bob you want to talk a little bit about what the Vice division has been doing since –
Chief Boyce: Sure. We’ve re-engineered just to address human trafficking. They’ve gone up on
a joint task force with the FBI. We’re identifying locations throughout the city that particularly one was talking about was a problematic spot for us in Queens North. We have others around the city. We see both organized ranks and we see both smaller groups doing human trafficking as well. Something that I sit down, I have a meeting each week with the Vice commander. We brought back Vice division to its – to the staffing that’s necessary to address. We’ve specifically detailed them with, this is the most important thing they do. So they’re not doing taxed cigarettes, they’re not doing smaller operations. They are addressing human trafficking. And there is a whole group of issues for them to look at. We have Asian human trafficking, we have Central American, we also have gang members who are doing it as well. He has a large task in there, but it’s getting done. And so we’ve seen a lot of, a lot of headway getting made there since we started the unified investigative model.
Question: And was that a smaller operation? Was she –
Chief Boyce: No –
Question: [Inaudible] organized.
Chief Boyce: I don’t like to speak ill of anybody who took their life. But that was clearly done, and clearly done within the protocols that we use to make those arrests. So we were trying to shut down the location. It wasn’t specifically targeted to this young lady. We wanted to shut down this shop, this thing that it was happening in this massage parlor.
Question: And were the numbers with that Chief Shea?
Chief Shea: Numbers as to?
Question: [Inaudible] prostitution Vice arrests?[
Chief Shea: I’ll echo, I don’t have specific numbers but I’ll echo what Bob said. This is a – it’s a problem that we really made it a focus coming into this year to attack this problem. People are praying on – many times you’re talking girls as young as 13 years of age. I’ve seen it in every borough of New York City. And we’re not going to rest until you know we really make headway and eradicate this problem.
I can tell you that there is a definite link between some, some of the rape numbers that we report to you, and there is human trafficking. There is a number of young girls that have been raped multiple times this year. And that’s a direct link to human trafficking. But I can tell you, and I apologize I don’t have specific numbers on this topic. But I have never seen more positive police work than I have seen in 2017 on this topic. It is almost on a weekly basis and it doesn’t always make the news. But on a weekly basis it seems that we are rescuing a girl out of either a motel, out of an apartment somewhere in New York City that’s being held under circumstances. Often times they’re lured, often times you have that toxic equation of sometimes group homes, sometimes missing girls and then that winds up after talking to people on the internet and getting over their head. They think they’re going to meet some friends and have a good time, and next thing they’re trapped in an apartment.
So again, I got to give Inspector Klein a lot of props, because he has really moved the needle significantly in a short time in 2017. As well as the entire – you know many these investigations have begun right at – with a 9-1-1 call to patrol and patrol responds and recognizes, because of additional training that’s been given. recognizes a situation for what it is, and they hold it down and get the ball rolling. But there has been a lot of positive movement on this. But we’re far from the finish line.
Commissioner O’Neill: Ashely, we’ll get you some hard numbers.
Question: Thank you.
Commissioner O’Neill: Yep, in the back row.
Question: On the topic of all rapes being reported Paz de la Huerta’s lawyer has complained that the DA is not acting on those allegations against Harvey Weinstein. I was wondering if the NYPD – do you guys feel like you have case? Can you respond to that complaint?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, Chief Boyce will talk –
Chief Boyce: Sure. So, I’m in weekly contact with both Cy Vance and his personnel. I spoke to one this morning. That case, I’m promised so far, is still going forward – I’m not promised, we talked about it. It’s going forward. Right now as we speak, there’s been no determination of where it’s going to go or what timeline has been done as far as when it’s going to go to the grand jury.
So, I can’t speak to Ms. Goldberg. I know she’s an ally. We want everybody cooperating with us as we go forward in this case. I’m told by DA Vance and his top echelon that this case is going forward right now.
I have two detectives in LA right now. I’ve sent them to Paris. I’ve sent them, pretty much, around the world. So, this case is an active case. We’re going to keep going forward.
Question: For Chief Boyce, can you tell us anything about this drug overdose of the teacher on Thursday. What kind of investigative procedures does that kick in when you find that?
Chief Boyce: Sure. I don’t want to give what my techniques are, Lisa, but right now we have an unstamped back of heroin and a syringe. The syringes – he just bought that day at Rite Aid. We have a receipt in his pocket for that. We’ll go back through phone records to see where he bought these items from. It was a surprise to everybody at the school.
And when we say we’re looking at it as a homicide scene, we do do that, we go through a complete rundown of his life. We’ll speak to his family, everybody who knew him, his closest friends to see where he could have purchased this – this heroin.
And we’ll see also if it contains any fentanyl. Right now we don’t have that. It takes a couple days. So, the big problem in this city is the heroin and the fentanyl combined together that increases the potency of it, and that’s what’s killing people. We don’t know right now where he bought it.
So we will – it’s a whole big investigation as far as where his phone was [inaudible] and we’ll follow that to see where he might have purchased that.
So, that’s where we are with the case. We do this each time. We have heroin squads. Bronx is a big issue for us. It’s the number one place we’re having most of our overdoses.
So, we have a lot of people working on this effort.
Mayor: And just – hold on a second. Lisa, I just wanted to say, it’s a very painful situation obviously for that school community and it’s a reminder, you know, that when it comes to addiction it can strike in all sorts of places.
You would not think a teacher who has a good job and, you know, a secure future is the kind of person who would end up with an overdose. This is, to my understanding, the first time we’ve ever had something like this with a teacher certainly in anyone’s memory.
So, it’s very painful for that school and everyone in it but it also a sobering reminder that the opioid crisis knows no boundaries. There’s no class or economic distinctions. Addiction is addiction and it’s something we have to fight at the root.
And it’s another reminder that if anyone is suffering from addiction or if someone in their life is suffering addiction, one thing they can do now is call that number – 8-8-8-NYC-WELL. They can get help. There’s treatment available right this minute.
But people need to pick up that phone or call on behalf of a loved one. Maybe if someone had been able to do that for this teacher, we could have saved him.
Question: On the topic of sexual misconduct – this whole thing with the Metropolitan Opera [inaudible] Levine coming out. Have any victims contacted the police or is there any [inaudible]?
Chief Boyce: Right now, we’ll keep a close eye on that. No one has come forward on any of the recent high-profile cases other than Harvey Weinstein. That’s the only that persons have come forward as victims, is the Weinstein case. That’s all I have right now. None others.
Commissioner O’Neill: Marcia.
Question: Just wondering if you could speak a little bit more about your decision to increase the sex crimes unit, why you did it and if you’re satisfied with the size of the [inaudible] –
Commissioner O’Neill: I mean this is what we do all the time. We take a look at how we deploy people – all 36,000 people and 16,000 civilians. It’s important that each rape, no matter what the classification is, is fully investigated. And it’s something that we have to constantly – when we put people into Special Victims, we have to make sure we select people that are right for that job. So, that’s an ongoing process. And as we see – we saw the numbers starting to climb a little bit, we thought it was important to make sure we put more seasoned investigators in there.
Question: [Inaudible] things over the weekend, very quickly, horrible situation in the 1-0-6 I guess over a parking space dispute – people killed, run over. And also in the 6-6 Precinct, a grandma shot inside her own home –
Chief Boyce: It’s not her own home. It was a catering hall in the 6-6. There was a one-year-old birthday party there. It’s on pretty good video. We have an image of that person, we believe it was accidental. He put his coat down, it fell, and a firearm went off, and struck this lady in the leg. We believe people know him. They were all known to each other at this catering hall.
So, we’re going forward with the investigation right now. We still have a ways to go. At some point, I may put out the image of the individual because he actually walks over and helps the victim and then leaves.
So, we’ll think we’ll find out who it is right now.
Going into the 1-0-6 case, Sunday morning at 4:30 am on Liberty Avenue – 127 Liberty Avenue – we have a closing of a hookah bar – XS Hookah Bar – Hookah Lounge, excuse me. One male – two males are out front in a car, another two males pull up, back in and hit the car. A fight ensues after that – a fist fight whereas the driver of the white Hyundai whose name is Adrian Harry, 27-year-old male, stabs another male in the car and then tries to flee.
The person with him was also in a fist fight as well. He ends up on the sidewalk. Mr. Harry then takes off, drives back around, and mounts the sidewalk, and then runs down six people one of which was DOA, who was – excuse me – pronounced on the scene.
That person pronounced was the person in the car with him. There’s a little twist there we didn’t know there until this morning, some early morning hours. So, others went to the hospital. One is still in grave condition. We’re hoping he survives his wounds. He was hit – some severe head wounds.
Mr. Harry later on showed up at Jamaica Hospital with kind of like a b-s story, if you will, that he was stabbed someplace else. Detectives were quick to put him on the scene, bring him back, and he admitted to the entire event. So, right now he’s charged with murder-two.
There was another car who followed him. We have that male as well. Unknown if he’s going to be charged because there was a gray vehicle – a Rouge, I believe – that was following him at the time. It’s not the vehicle in the original accident out front. It’s the vehicle that came to their aid.
So, that’s where we are with the case right now. Mr. Harry is in custody. He has no prior arrests, neither does the individual with him who was that person on the scene. They’re actually neighbors. They’re known to each other. His name is Ricardo Chattergoon. He is a 24-year-old male. He was pronounced at the scene. But they were together at one time.
Question: Chief Boyce, in terms of – going back to the suicide of the businessman [inaudible] I know you can’t disclose, or you don’t want to disclose what’s in the suicide note, but there have been reports that he was bedeviled by certain financial problems [inaudible] can you say if that’s part of the investigation?
Chief Boyce: It will be but if you read the note, and I’m not going to read it you’re right, it’s handwritten by him. People in his family identified that’s his handwriting. And it’s about a legal-side issue where he pretty much states what’s going on with his life at that time. So, other than that, I’m not going to say anything more than that. It’s a horrible tragedy for his family and the city, by the way.
So, we’re not going to go any farther. And it’s not something that I do. That’s very personal.
Unknown: Two more police questions then we’re going to move on, please.
Commissioner O’Neill: Hold on, one at a time. Got two more – you got the second one.
Question: You talked about Carlos going out on top, given the near-record or record pace for homicides right now, what is your thought process about your own future at the NYPD? Are you here for the long-term? Are you thinking about going out on top?
Commissioner O’Neill: I – I know Dermot said we’re on top but –
Listen, I love what I do. I love being a cop. As long as I get asked to stay at this job, I’ll stay. I just – the men and women of this police department are the best in the world and I think the way we’ve changed things over the last – since I became, since I started working with Commissioner Bratton, I think the city has a real bright future. So, I’ll stay as long as the guy sitting next to me wants me to stay.
Question: Do you want him to stay, Mr. Mayor?
Mayor: He’s doing a great job. I will, though, continue to say what I say to you guys all the time just for symmetry – assume continuity in this administration. When we have personnel announcements, you’ll hear it. But he is doing a great, great job.
Question: Getting back to Harvey Weinstein, we were talking about the 30 more people who have come forward to report past rapes this year and how that shows faith in the NYPD. What’s your message you’re sending to the people if Harvey Weinstein is not prosecuted?
Chief Boyce We’re not saying he’s not being prosecuted. I don’t know – I don’t understand that question.
Question: [Inaudible] about that?
Chief Boyce: Well I can only speak for the NYPD and I do talk to the District Attorney of New York and we’re in total agreement of where we’re going with the case at all times. There’s a lot here that we cannot speak about and we’re not going to speak about. So there’s a lot to this case. This is no small issue. But we’re going to keep going forward because we believe there’s other victims out there. Whether they’re in New York, LA, London, or anywhere else in the world, we’ll go forward with the case. And we’ll share, because we speak to Metropolitan Police Service of London quite often. And as I said I have two of my detectives in LA now. So it’s not over. This is no small undertaking. We’ll go forward.
Question: Thank you Bob.
Question: How many other cases are you investigating besides Ms. de la Huerta’s case?
Chief Boyce: Not going to say that right now.
Unknown: Thanks all, going to move on to other topics.
Mayor: Other topics. Ashley?
Question: Mayor, you announced that you imposed some limitations on the number of street fairs that could take place in the city under the – arguing that it effects police overtime. This precinct which I live in, there are lots of street festivals and parades and probably it’s not going to go over well here. Can you talk about the logic – or the reasoning behind this decision besides overtime?
Mayor: I would just say I think some of this is being overstated. The concept here is that we’ve got to look regularly at what makes sense. So I think there was a period of time where the size and duration of a number of public events became a real challenge. And actually, you know, everyone here knows I didn’t always agree with Michael Bloomberg but on this one I think he did something smart by saying some events needed to be smaller or less duration. Some didn’t make as much sense as they might have in the past.
So it’s just constantly looking at the situation because there are real costs in terms of traffic, in terms of police overtime, etcetera, excreta. But I think what’s being presented is more ridged than what we’re saying. We’ll keep looking year by year at any proposal. There certainly is going to be opportunity to evaluate if something else makes sense at any given point in time.
Question: Mayor, when do you expect the monument and statue commission to come through with their recommendations?
Mayor: By the end of the year. That’s the current thinking. By the end of the year. So, three weeks, four weeks.
Question: I actually have two questions, Mr. Mayor. The first one is if the [inaudible] of [inaudible] fire department [inaudible] some racially insensitive tweets: ‘I liked you about as much as Hitler does’ [inaudible] sick of picking up these Obama letters [inaudible]
Mayor: Yes, I’m familiar with them.
Question: How do you feel about [inaudible]
Mayor: This situation has been looked at very carefully. I’ve spoken to Chief Nigro about it throughout. Chief – I’m sorry, Commissioner Nigro. The original comments are unacceptable. The only way someone can continue in our employment if they think that way is they’ve got to really reevaluate their thinking and what it means to be in public service in the most diverse city in country.
There have been very systematic measures taken to ensure this induvial gets that new understanding and since that, my understanding is he has performed appropriately. I also am someone who believes in redemption. If someone does something wrong and then they fix it and they don’t recur they still should have a right to peruse their career. That being said, if there is any further incident it will be dealt with very harshly.
Question: My second question has to do with the building [inaudible] I guess it’s Midtown on East 58th Street. The City Council decided to stop construction but construction was stopped after 95 percent of the foundation had been finished and they were 10 days away from finishing it. What do you think should happen at that location? I mean is this going to be like, you know, a construction site that’s never going to be –
Mayor: No that’s not my assumption.
Question: [Inaudible] be coming down?
Mayor: I – I’m farthest thing from a technical expert on land use matters. But from my understanding the action the Council is taking, which I certainly understand what’s motivating it and we’ve been working with the council on this, was trying to recognize how out of context this building would be with everything around it. And I am sympathetic to the neighborhood concerns on that point. And we have tried to work constructively with the Council on this.
But my understanding is you’re still talking about a very large building that can be built on that site. I think it’s something like 50 stories. So, I can’t speak for the owner but my understanding is they certainly have the opportunity to build a major building on that site.
Question: You wouldn’t allow a smaller building to be built –
Mayor: It’s not me. It the land use process.
Question: But what would your feeling be about if he agreed to build something a lot smaller.
Mayor: Again, I’m speaking very broadly because I’m not in the details of the process. I think the community concerns were valid. I think what the Council did was try to create some boundaries and it sounds like there’s still the opportunity for the developer to build a large building, just one that’s not as out of scale with the community as the original plan.
Question: While we’re talking about land use, Council member Chen, the Council recently passed a bill of her’s that would allowed your office and Borough Presidents but really the idea is allow the Council also to move land use applications to the commission without the [inaudible] process. The idea being that they could sort of pre-empt the Sutton 58 tower that Marcia was talking about and also Two Bridges Towers, those [inaudible] super tall, you might say they’re out of context towers. Do you think that the Council should be able to do that?
Mayor: I have not seen the legislation so this is one I want to be measured about because I just haven’t seen it. I think the current land use process, even though it’s elaborate, has often led to good outcomes and balanced outcomes so I’d be careful about disrupting that. But I’d have to see the legislation to give you a better answer.
Question: Two part things on lead paint. First one, NYCHA learned about remediators not being certified in August and from what I understand your office learned about that a week ago. Can you explain why there was that lag as far as NYCHA informing you guys. And, I mean at what point does such things – something like that happening is Shola Olatoye be held accountable for something like that. That kind of oversight.
Mayor: First of all I commend you for getting closer to the pronunciation Olatoye. It is the – it is the second syllable. No you were good, you were closer than many. Olatoye. Took me a while to get it too.
So look, my goal for the admiration is, even though I have 400,000 employees and an $85 billion budget, my goal for the administration is that anything that I need to know personally gets to me on a timely basis. That did not happen here. I am certainly disappointed in that. On the other hand I can tell you that there are – it’s more than once given the complexity of government that something doesn’t travel to me as well as it should.
I’m going to take measures certainly to make sure that that communication flow is better. And to the previous point that we’ve all talked about, when I recognize something is different than anything I’ve said publically or then what I understood, I’m going to try and do a better job of noting it publically. Because I think you guys deserve that and I think the public deserves that.
So, take this as a teachable moment for me.
But, I still come back to the substance of the matter. What I care about is, when something is discovered, and we’re talking about big, complicated organizations and things are discovered all the time, especially about the problems of past practice, I want it acted on. The most important thing to me is act on it, recognize it, act on it. And, the Chair did that and I think she did the right thing with that.
So look, going forward I want us to be very clear and consistent with the residents, transparent about everything we’re doing. But I am satisfied that the inspections we need to be taking now are happening, that the training that was required for the workers is happening, and that we’re on the right track now.
Question: It took four months for her to act on it, didn’t it? I mean it’s happening now, not in August.
Mayor: Again, my understanding is there was a close proximity between her understanding that there was a particular challenge and acting on it. I want to remind you, every one – and I’ve been through plenty of governmental agencies and transitions and one thing and another, you receive what was given to you from the previous administration. If something was fundamentally out of whack, and it was not identified by employees, by the transition process, by the way in a transition process the previous administration is supposed to admit if there’s a problem. That didn’t happen. The internal career leadership did not identify the problem. It had not been a public matter, hadn’t been a matter that came up in an oversight process. You would like people to be able to figure out things despite all that, but I want to be consistent that sometimes you don’t see a problem because there’s nothing to indicate it.
When – the real test is once you know something is wrong, what do you do about it. And in this one, on the original problem, once it was identified, the inspection problem, it was acted on. When the training problem was identified it was acted on. I’m satisfied about the way that the chair saw problems and addressed them. I’m particularly satisfied at her overall performance, and this is central to my thinking. And again I’m happy to – whenever anyone wants to understand what I’m thinking, I’m sitting right here, I’ll tell you – I look at housing authority: decades of disinvestment by the federal government; I think a lack of interest at City Hall in the previous 20 years in the future of the housing authority, I think they tried to create a distance from the housing authority; bad management practices that were not addressed properly for a long time. Chair Olatoye came in. She worked with us to bring down crime. She worked with us to speed up repairs, to intensify investment, to bring in private financing to rework the fiscal status and put it on a firm footing. I mean I could go down a whole long list – bring down the unneeded scaffolding – I mean there’s a whole substantial body of work that moved consistently in the right direction. This is aberrant, but this needs to be fixed clearly.
Question: Mr. Mayor, following up on that – who is going to do the lead testing of these children and when?
Mayor: So I’ve asked Deputy Mayor Palacio to determine the best methodology. Obviously, Health and Hospital Corporation and Department of Health are available. We’re trying to figure out the best, easiest way for it to be done. My understanding is it does need to be done in some kind of healthcare facility, but we’ll have that shortly.
Question: My understanding is – and if this is wrong, then [inaudible] – but my understanding is the Health Department doesn’t know if a children has tested positive for elevated lead levels unless it’s notified by a medical provider.
Mayor: As opposed to what, Mara? I’m not clear how else are they supposed to know?
Question: This is what I’m getting to. Several doctors that I’ve spoken to have said that a best practice would be if whoever is doing the abatement or the remediation, if you see lead dust or lead paint, if a worker sees that in a NYCHA apartment or any apartment that that person should contact the Health Department to let them know that that family needs to be tested. So the question is – is that part of the city’s protocol because it’s hard to know. When you call the Department of Health they say it’s a NYCHA issue. If you call NYCHA, that say it’s a Department of Health issue.
Mayor: First of all, I’d say another thing we’ve learned here – and this is something we learned a lot in the beginning of the administration in other matters, totally different matters – we learned there were some areas where we’ve got to get different agencies to sit down and get onto one strategic plan. I remember when we went through the first snowstorms, one of the most glaring realities was the fact that Sanitation, PD, and Transportation were not really on the same page and we had to fix that. Here, I think there is something we have to do to improve the communication and coordination between NYCHA, Department of Health, Health and Hospitals, and probably Law Department as well on how we want to handle all of these things. As to what happens currently, I want to check that with Dr. Palacio, and we’ll get back to you later in the day. Clearly special attention is given to some kids, but I don’t know all of what triggers that special attention, so let’s come back to you on that.
Question: Governor Cuomo, is he vulnerable from the political left do you think in the coming election?
Mayor: I am not a pundit, but I will say this. You know, there was that great phrase from Howard Dean in 2004, 2003-2004, and I really – I try so intensely to try and understand all the changes happening in our society, and I think an underestimated watershed moment was when Howard Dean emerged on the national scene with the simple phrase, when he said ‘I’m from the democratic wing of the Democratic Party.’ And you will remember way back then that that elicited a lot of energy and interest, and I give him a lot of credit because I think he started something that then fueled a lot of what Barack Obama did, and then fueled a lot of what Bernie Sanders did. I think there’s a real interesting connection between all of these points. For quite a while, the progressive and reform wing of the Democratic Party has been ascending and wants democrats to be consistent Democrats – not Republicans lite. And so the simple point here is when it comes to this state, there’s something wrong in this state. There’s something wrong in the state, and people are sick of it. And that’s what we need to address. It’s not about personalities, it’s about the Democratic Party not functioning like the Democratic Party, and Albany being broken, and that has to be addressed.
Question: Would you again try to help them get the line of the Working Families Party?
Mayor: I’m not going to talk about the election next year yet. That’s not what’s in the front of my mind right now. So let’s see what emerges, and there’s time to work on that, but I’ll tell you on a substantive level what we need to have addressed – sadly a lot of thing you probably remember very well, the commitments that were made in 2014, I’m still waiting for those commitments to be fulfilled – campaign finance reform at the state level, public financing, Democratic State Senate. Call me when those things are achieved, will you, Rich?
Question: Two questions. The first is – now that it seems clear or pretty clear the tax cut is going to pass Congress, what will the effect be on New Yorkers of the loss of the SALT exemption and what can you do in terms of policy to deal with the fiscal impact?
Mayor: So, your assumption – by conventional wisdom your assumption is perfectly fair. I mean it’s, we’re all – I shouldn’t say we’re all. Many, many people in this city and this state and this country are deeply troubled by the vote that was taken in the dead of night without the final text having been written by the United States Senate. It doesn’t conform with anything we’ve seen historically on something of this magnitude, but I would challenge the assumption only this way. I think the next step in the process is more complicated than people might imagine. Give the last round to Mitch McConnell, but this ball game ain’t over. And the challenge for the Republicans is now they have to ask a group of their House members to vote against their constituents’ interest in the sharpest possible fashion – literally voting for that double taxation, that taking of the right to deduct your state and local taxes that people have enjoyed for over a century.
You know, remember all those votes in the Congress for years and years against Obamacare when it really didn’t count? And then when it came time that the vote was forever, suddenly people had to think a little differently? Any House member who votes to raise immediately the taxes of their constituents in a very big way is taking their political future into their own hands, let alone the fact that they’re not serving their constituents very well. So this ball game ain’t over – that’s the first thing I would say. The second thing I would say on the pure numerical front, New York City – our estimate is 700,000 New York City residents would pay more taxes essentially immediately, and those are overwhelmingly working class and middle class people. So it would be horrible for this city, it would be horrible for a lot of other parts of the country.
By the way, it’s not just New York, New Jersey, California. There are other parts – hundreds of millions of Americans who benefit from the ability to deduct state and local taxes. This is much more widespread reality than is being recognized, and there are – I know for a fact congress members in Colorado, in Texas, in you know all sorts of states that are not on either coast who have to make this decision about what they’re going to do to their constituents, and it’s going to be a tough one. So our job is to fight it. I’ve been working with fellow mayors around the county. There are a lot of Republican mayors – I really, this is a really important point – a lot of Republican mayors and Republican local officials who think this is horrible and are telling their Republican congress member not to do it very openly. So our job is to stop it. If we can’t stop it the impact is going to be very negative on the taxpayers of the city.
Question: The second question I have is on May 11 of this year, regarding Joe Ponte you said he would pay for every mile and every gallon of gas, and you said that would be going back to when he started employment in 2014 “from the day he came on board, absolutely, tolls, mileage, gas the City should be made whole for all of it.”
Question: On May 11, on the same day, the people at City Hall were working out a very different arrangement with him. He paid only $1,790 for only gas and tolls in 2016, and paid nothing for mileage. In fact, you allowed him to take it as added compensation.
Mayor: Well, Willie, I just – Willie, so far.
Mayor: Hold on, hold on – listen, this is complimentary.
So far I think a lot of your summary is right, just don’t put me there if I wasn’t there.
Question: Your press office told me that.
Mayor: Your press office didn’t – my press office didn’t tell me that I sat there working out the mileage formulas because that’s not what I do for a living. I said – your first quote I believe in and subscribe to this hour. Everything that needs to be paid back must be paid back. I’m a little confused at how the Department of Correction came up with their final figures myself, but the silver lining here is the Conflict of Interest Board can now make sense of the final outcome because they have not yet ruled on what final restitution should be.
Question: I haven’t asked my question yet.
Question: You said at the time you must pay mileage in everything going back to 2014. It wasn’t the Correction Department that did this. It was City Hall that did this, because he was a commissioner.
Mayor: Again, I’m only saying what I know.
Question: Ok, well what you knew at the time, they told me, that you approved of this arrangement. Why did you say publically he would pay for –
Mayor: I said it. I just said it a moment ago.
Question: Say it again because I did not –
Mayor: I think I said it really clearly so I’m not going to repeat it. Andrew?
Question: You’re back on the [inaudible].
Mayor: Nicely done. We are all learning together.
Question: In some of the NYCHA complexes there are petitions going around to save her job, do you think those petitions are necessary given that you voiced total confidence in her?
Mayor: Yeah, they are not necessary from my point of view. I have total confidence in her. I think this area is an area I want to see fixed, I want to see more work done to resolve this issue once and for all, and I want to make sure going forward that we are all better about notifying the public and notifying residents when there is an issue. But again, if you are talking about overall performance, and what she has done for 400,000 people for four years now, and how much better NYCHA is than it was four years ago, she is absolutely the right person to continue to lead.
Question: On that subject, I have two quick lead questions. Did the NYCHA Chairwoman tell Alicia Glenn, whom she reports, that she was intending to certify to HUD that NYCHA was in compliance with the lead in October 2016?
Mayor: Again, I want to be careful about you asking me about other people’s conversations. I am not familiar with the details of who talked to who when. I am familiar with the fact, and it’s been verified by the HUD regional director at the time, that upon recognizing the problem, she proactively reached out to the HUD regional director to report it, that was exactly the right thing to do.
Question: I guess I’m just confused about what went in the process of signing a certification, you know, that she and HUD both new wasn’t accurate.
Mayor: Yeah, look again, the certification had 21 or 22 different elements and my understanding is, you know, the process around the total product was accurate and appropriate. This one, I think it’s bluntly a debatable point, perfectly fair point to say, well, you know, shouldn’t this be sort of red-lined even more. Certainly an arguable point, but what I feel strongly is, that if she self-reported in advance of the certification, and it’s been confirmed by HUD, there was no mal-intent, was the exact process, bureaucratic process, as good as it could have been. Of course you could say, hey you should put, you know, a neon sign around that. I’m perfectly satisfied that the underlying intent was correct, and HUD was fully aware of what was happening.
Question: Just to follow up on Maura’s question about the mechanics of lead testing of children in the City. Obviously NYCHA is not the only landlord that’s dealing with old buildings in New York, it’s an old city. A lot of apartments may have lead. Has there been any thought given to perhaps requiring lead tests for school age children, or, you know is there some potential way for the City to better determine, if NYCHA wasn’t following Local Law 1, it’s totally possible that smaller landlords may have not as well.
Mayor: Well I think it’s a very fair question. I think in the scheme of health challenges – I don’t belittle – look I think the needs of children are the first thing that motivates me, and witness that Pre-K was my number one objective in the first term, and 3-K is my number one objective in the second term, so lord knows the health of children is right in the front of my mind. I think there is a lot of health issues and other challenges that kids face that are bigger and more consistent that we are trying to address. I think the fact is that we have seen a constant decline, thank God, in lead poisoning. So, it’s a fair question to say is there something we need to do more of in terms of either enforcement or testing, I will certainly bring that back with a whole of heart, and ask my team, but I think if you look at the last four years, the focus has tended to be where the problems are greatest, and in some areas what we don’t see problems moving, there are still – their big and not changing well enough. We want to focus there. This one – again I am happy to go back and ask if the health professionals who I will be led with – led by I should say starting with Doctor Palacio. If they think there is a need for more extensive testing or if the housing professionals think there is a need for more extensive enforcement. But I think the underlying issue for us is thank God we see a decline in this area of public health concern overall because the numbers keep going down. Okay last two, okay.
Question: Quick question on lead paint again. When you learned about it that the labs and testing did a couple Monday’s ago that you know there was an announcement made that testing would happen. But there was no notification that there was the labs that [inaudible]. Do you at this point – and you know I mean as a dad putting yourself in the shoes of – do you regret not doing that, putting out notifications for tenants and saying you know look for the past for years it’s been happening?
Mayor: Yeah, I am – I think I said that last time. I am happy to say it again. As a dad the most important thing was that upon or first let me start as a dad. As a dad I would be pissed off that back in 2012 someone stopped it. So we should take all the heat you guys are giving us because your questions are perfectly valid. But I do want you to ask the question of the people who were in charge in 2012 from City Hall down to the leadership of NYCHA on down. Why did they allow the testing to stop? If they had not allowed the testing to stop we would have received the handoff and kept it going. That being said, of course we should have figured it out. The important thing to me is once it was figured out the exact right thing was done. The residents were notified we were going do this – these inspections, we’re coming and we’re going to fix anything that we find. That’s the tangible thing that matters most. I’ve said previously in retrospect I wish what we had done was – I should have come back in front of you guys and said okay what I heard before was wrong; here is what I know now. We should have said to the residents in the addition to the fact the inspections are coming we want to inform you of the whole picture. I want my entire administration to do a better job at things like that, of giving people the whole picture including the parts that we’re not so happy about. But again I am a materialist not in the sense I want material possessions, in the sense that I care about the material reality. The material reality is the right order was given and the apartments were reached and the children were reached and thank God we have seen nothing in the way of the health crises that we worried about in terms of our children. Go ahead.
Question: Thank you. The other week Mayor you called the proposal to extend term limits pandering colleagues about the Speaker candidates. On Friday at NY1 debate one of the candidates said that one justification that he believed that candidates should have a third term which that would let them vest in the city pension which takes 10 years, eight to twelve. I was wondering –
Mayor: Got to give him points for honesty.
Question: So if you could just react to that more [inaudible] about [inaudible].
Mayor: The people have spoken and then spoken. Marcia correct me, today it’s been three times, right? They’ve spoken, they’ve spoke, they’ve spoken again. Ball game over, three strikes you’re out. We’re not going back. So I believe in pensions, so if you want a pension and you do eight years as a City Council member, work for the city in some capacity for two more years. There is lots of great jobs with the City of New York. But you cannot violate the public will. The public has spoken. Thank you everyone.