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Stringer unveils sweeping public safety vision to combat surge in violent crime, cut bureaucracy at One Police Plaza, refocus resources in precincts to address gun violence

Surge in shootings, violent crime comes as NYPD crime-solving rate hits historic low — with NYPD detectives solving less than half of homicides for the first time since 2002

With growing administrative and executive bloat at 1PP and declining precinct resources, Stringer proposes scaling back One Police Plaza, refocusing NYPD resources on solving serious crime, preventing gun violence, and investing in communities

Stringer: “At this critical moment, when the future of our city hangs in the balance, we can’t afford reactionary leadership… The next mayor must redefine our approach to public safety with a comprehensive, decisive, and forward-thinking plan — and that’s exactly what I will be ready to do on Day One at City Hall.”

Video of the press conference available here.

New York, NY – City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer today unveiled a sweeping vision for public safety to refocus NYPD resources and responsibilities on addressing serious and violent crime. Standing at One Police Plaza, Stringer outlined a series of reforms that would decisively stem the recent uptick in shootings and assaults by bolstering proven crime-solving, violence-prevention, community investment programs while cutting back on bureaucratic bloat.

Stringer’s proposals include:

Comptroller Scott Stringer said: “Public safety is foundational to our recovery as a city, and I will be the Mayor to lead the greatest city on earth out of its greatest crisis. At this critical moment, when the future of our city hangs in the balance, we can’t afford reactionary leadership. And we can’t afford to turn back the clock to the Guiliani era of policing. The next mayor must redefine our approach to public safety with a comprehensive, decisive, and forward-thinking plan — and that’s exactly what I will be ready to do on Day One at City Hall.”

Stringer’s public safety reforms come as the city faces a year-over-year surge in shootings and homicides — even as overall levels of crime continue a downward trend. As of May 9, 505 people have been shot citywide in 2021, compared to 275 victims by the same point last year — in the midst of the pandemic lockdown. Compared to last year, major crimes are down 6% citywide and up 8% at NYCHA complexes.

At the same time, the Police Department has been solving a historically low share of crimes. Clearance rates for major crimes are at historic lows, with NYPD detectives solving fewer than 50 percent of homicides for the first time since 2002, according to quarterly data from the NYPD and the annual data that it reports to the FBI. Clearance rates for “larceny theft” are currently hovering near 10 percent — their lowest since 1995 — and overall clearance rates reached a lowly 21.1 percent for all major crimes in the third quarter of 2020. Equally troubling, these solve-rates vary widely among various communities within the five boroughs, with 84 percent of all homicides involving white victims solved between 2013 and 2017 versus only 63 percent of those among Black victims.

The City’s failure to solve crimes undermines the legitimacy of the police department and enables the cycle of violence to continue. The police must be accountable to the communities they serve, providing some closure to victims and their families and an opportunity for justice and healing.

Stringer’s new proposals follow a comprehensive report released by his office in February, “Blueprint for Public Safety,” which outlined public safety reforms that would move responsibilities away from the NYPD, address serious crime and the recent increase in shootings, strengthen accountability and civilian oversight of the NYPD, and reinvest police dollars into communities. Last June, Comptroller Stringer detailed ways to achieve recurring savings of more than $1.1 billion from the NYPD that could be reinvested in communities. Some but not all of these proposals were adopted by the City Council and the Mayor.

Redesigning and Decentralizing One Police Plaza

In recent years, the NYPD has become excessively centralized, specialized, siloed, and unresponsive to the needs of communities and — it has been given responsibility for far too many social service and quality-of-life incidents, primarily in response to 311 and 911 calls and protocols. In order to reduce this bloat and insularity at One Police Plaza and refocus resources on reducing gun violence and solving serious crime, it is time to redesign and decentralize the department.

Stringer’s plan includes:

Stringer noted that despite dramatic decreases in crime over the last decade, the NYPD’s budget has steadily increased — especially its spending on upper management. Between 2011 and 2019, major crimes fell by 10 percent, felony arrests by 11 percent, misdemeanor arrests by 56 percent, and criminal summonses by 82 percent. However, this dramatic reduction in crime and frontline police activities did not translate into departmental savings. Instead, it accompanied new bloat: the NYPD budget grew by $1.1 billion, and overtime rose significantly. Over this same period, while Operations staffing — including in precincts and borough commands — fell by 4 percent, Executive Management personnel rose by 37 percent (from 2,859 to 3,910) and its budget rose 74 percent (from $408 million to $711 million).

As a result, the top-heavy department proved slow to respond to the recent spike in shootings precipitated by the dislocations and destabilization of the pandemic.

Delivering True Public Safety

While tackling bloat centralized at One Police Plaza, Stringer’s proposals would more effectively distribute resources to local communities, precincts, and proven programs that interrupt cycles of crime, poverty, and incarceration, and keep young people away from violence.

In full, the restructuring plan will include the following components:

A Broader Vision for Public Safety Reform

The new proposals released today build on Stringer’s broader public safety agenda which includes: 

Moreover, accountability cannot just occur at the “back end,” after an infraction takes place or misconduct is alleged. It must also occur at the front end, initiating public review of new rules and regulations, improving transparency and scrutiny of police activities, prescribing a “duty to intervene” among fellow officers, and reforming surveillance, technology, and data practices and programs.​​​​​​​

Scott Stringer grew up in Washington Heights in the 1970s. He attended P.S. 152 on Nagle Avenue and I.S. 52 on Academy Street. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Marble Hill and John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, a CUNY school.

Stringer was elected City Comptroller in 2013. Prior to serving as Comptroller, he was Manhattan Borough President from 2006 to 2013 and represented the Upper West Side in the New York State Assembly from 1992 to 2005. He and his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, live in Manhattan with their two children, Max and Miles.