March 6, 2023
Hazel Sanchez: Lithium batteries are the source of another fire in New York City, this time leaving seven people injured.
Dan Mannarino: Also, what's next for the FDNY? After a major shake up within the department, there's a lot to talk about. So let's check in with Mayor Eric Adams on these topics and more including crime stats. Mr. Mayor, good to see you this morning. Thanks for coming back to PIX 11.
Mayor Adams: Thank you. Great seeing both of you.
Mannarino: So Mr. Mayor, let's begin first with the five alarm fire at that supermarket in the Bronx caused by these e-bike batteries that just spoke with Commissioner Kavanagh on PIX on Politics yesterday morning talking about the regulations on the City Council's passing. But what more can be done? People can still buy them, they're still for sale in stores where they're not regulated. Are you looking at options to maybe ban them all together? What are your thoughts here?
Mayor Adams: Well, first of all, hats off to Commissioner Kavanagh, she brought this to our attention a few months ago. And when you look at some of the videos dealing with these fires, you'll get a full understanding, it's actually an explosion. And what happened, when a delivery person or recreational user, they park their bike at their door, that explosion takes place, it stops your egress, it endangers your entire family. So one, we need real education to let people know how to properly store their bikes, should not be in their homes. Two, we need to go after those illegal lithium batteries. We like to call them the bootleg ones, so that we can make sure that people are not endangering themselves. And then I think it's just crucial that we zero in on those shops that are selling illegal lithium batteries.
Mannarino: So no ban on those kind of bikes or batteries?
Mayor Adams: Because we're not at that point right now. There's still an analysis to determine is it all the lithium batteries or is it just the illegal ones, the illegal charging. That is where it appears to be that the problem needs to be focused on at this time.
Sanchez: Mr. Mayor, can we talk about what's going on within the FDNY? There seems to be a lot of turmoil within the department. The commissioner just let go of two long-time deputy commissioners. There were a lot of demotions in leadership positions. Now she said to us, to Dan specifically on PIX on Politics, that she's just putting her own people in these leadership roles. But some insiders are saying that the environment is toxic over there and morale is down. What kind of conversations have you had with the commissioner about what's going on and what's behind all these changes?
Mayor Adams: Well, I think just that, change. Change is hard. I don't think anyone would tell you that anytime you bring in new leadership, there's a level of change, there's a level of shaken up until the glass of water settles. And I just have a great deal of respect for Commissioner Kavanagh, she understood being the first woman commissioner going into a field like this where you have a large number of men and women who are there to serve and protect the city. It's a difficult job being a firefighter. I see that every day. I was at a firehouse over the weekend talking to some of the men from Rescue 1. But I just have so much respect for the commissioner, her leadership. When you come into office, any office, I did it here at City Hall. You want to build a team that can execute the plan that you lay out. And that's what she's doing and hats off to her for serving our city, for taking this job and for continuing to lead New York City's bravest.
Mannarino: So full confidence in her, even with that looming lawsuit now from those demoted chiefs?
Mayor Adams: Well, no. There was a lawsuit that was put in place and the lawsuit was knocked down by the judge. I think they made it clear that she has the right to hire her team and put her team in place, I think we all do that. I don't know a person that takes over a leadership role and doesn’t do an analysis of who's going to remain on their team and who they are going to bring in new. We all do that no matter if it's a news station or if it's being the mayor of the City of New York.
Sanchez: All right. Well, let's move on to crime, Mr. Mayor. The NYPD crime stats for February of this year compared to February of last year's show a 5.6 percent decline. Major crimes within the subway system decreased, a 9.1 percent decrease February this year compared to February of last year. And although the reports show a decrease, it's not really that huge of a decrease. So do you foresee the numbers to continue to go down?
Mayor Adams: You guys kill me. [Laughter.] Let's open our hearts up to good news. We got a decrease. We don't have an increase. In February of last year, we had almost 40 percent in some of our crime areas. We stated we were going to put the plan in place with our subway safety plan. Even the passenger satisfactory subway survey is showing that people are feeling better about their subway system. Ridership is back. You don't see encampments on our subways anymore. 4,000 people that were homeless, over 1,000 stayed with care, many of them went on to other areas. You're seeing a difference in the city and you're seeing a decrease in shootings, double digit decrease, double digit decrease in homicides. Now those other areas are also going down. These police officers are working. They are consistent. We need help to make sure we continue to take dangerous people off our streets, particularly those extreme recidivists. But we need to be in a celebratory state right now. What we said we were going to do, we are actually doing it.
Mannarino: And everything takes time for sure. But there is an area of concern that we're hearing from local shop owners, especially some of these illegal cannabis shops that we're seeing an increase in shoplifting and crimes within stores. So you have made some comments, Mr. Mayor, about telling folks to take off their… It's so funny, used to tell people to put their masks on to get into a store and have people patrol that. Now you're telling people to take their masks off when entering a store. How are you going to ensure that that actually happens to capture somebody on a camera? Who is going to be monitoring that? And what if they don't?
Mayor Adams: Well, believe it or not, many of our stores, they have camera systems, and we have an extremely elaborate camera system connected to the New York City Police Department with their own camera system. Let's be clear, some of these characters going into stores that are wearing their mask, they're not doing it because they're afraid of the pandemic, they're doing it because they're afraid of the police. We need to stop allowing them to exploit the safety of the pandemic by wearing masks, committing crimes. You saw what happened over the weekend when an innocent store owner was shot and killed. The person had a hazmat suit on and a mask. He wasn't trying to protect himself from the pandemic.
So we are asking the partnership, we will do our job of apprehending these guilty people, we'll do our job seeking them out, but to have our stores make a clear indicator that you're not allowed to wear a mask coming in. Once you're inside the store, you can put the mask on.
Mannarino: Yeah. I just have a quick question on that because the same question I had in the beginning of the pandemic of who monitors putting a mask on when going into a store, who is to monitor if they go in with it on now with taking it off?
Mayor Adams: That's a great question, Dan. Here's what happens, if you tell someone that you can't wear your mask coming in the store and they do it anyway, you know what that does? That allows you to say, let me look at what's about to happen here. Because if someone is violating the basic rules, they may be there to violate a substantial rule as to commit a crime. Right now you are unclear of who's coming in. So if someone came into my store and I tell them please take off your mask as you come in and they are unwilling to do so, now I'm a little concerned. I'm going to be operating differently. That's all we are trying to do, empower the store owners, the storekeepers so they can play a role that we are going to do as police officers.
Sanchez: Yeah. Mr. Mayor, we want to switch topics before we let you go and talk about something that we've been covering here very in depth at PIX 11, the animal tranquilizers, they're calling tranq here on the streets. It's on the rise here. The FDA cracking down on imports of certain tranquilizers. What are you hearing about the drug infiltrating New York City?
Mayor Adams: I am really concerned on where we are as a country, not only that new drug on the streets, but also fentanyl. I've been stating this for a while and I'm surprised the national government has not stepped in and put in place a real examination of drug usage on a local level. We know what heroin did to us in the '60s, what crack cocaine did to us in the '80s and early '90s. When you look at this new drug and fentanyl, you are going to see a substantial impact on the quality of life, the number of drug overdoses that are taking place. Now you have a new drug being introduced at the same time. We really need national leadership on this issue, and we're going to do our job here locally. But this is a concern to all of us, this new drug that is now on the scene. It's highly dangerous and it could also add to the problem we're having with fentanyl.
Mannarino: All right, Mr. Mayor, appreciate your time on all of these topics. And because of you, I now have a smoothie every single morning handy with me. You can see my little personal blender.
Sanchez: He's getting stuff done, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: Thank you. Take care.
Sanchez: All right. Thanks again for your time.