October 8, 2019
Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill: Everybody ready? Good afternoon, everyone thanks for being here. In a moment you’re going to hear from Mayor de Blasio and then you will hear from our Chief of Crime Controls Strategies, Lori Pollock, and she’ll go over the September crime figures for you.
Hope you got a chance to watch and cover the recruits’ swearing-in ceremony we just had. Every time we hold one and we do that four times a year, it really does take me right back to 37 years ago. I think it does the same for all of us. I think about the oath every cop swears and what those words mean, and we think about what it means for young people to choose to dedicate themselves to a life of service. Policing is not just a profession, it’s a calling, and that’s evident, every day, when we see and hear all the incredible things our cops are doing out there throughout the city. We’re fortunate here in New York because we don’t have recruitment issues as some of the other cities and other police departments have around the country. At 697, this is the largest class of probationary police officers we put in one class since our January class of last year when we put in 785.
To me this shows the ongoing high level of interest New Yorkers have becoming part of something that truly matters in our society. Each of the young men and women who we saw in the auditorium today made the decision to do this. These young people felt – 60 percent of whom are New York City residents – want to make a difference and they want to do good. I’m confident that six months from now, when they graduate, having undergone the best police training our nation provides, have studied the law and the tenants of neighborhood policing, they’ll do just that in every community throughout the five boroughs. For us, having the ability to be highly selective in our hiring process means we get to choose the finest app candidates from an already great pool of applicants and it helps us to make sure the NYPD continues to best reflect the city that we serve. More than 23 percent of today’s new recruits were born outside the United States in 40 different countries, and this group speaks 28 different languages, to me that’s really remarkable. Today’s NYPD not only speaks French, Italian, Spanish, and all the various Chinese dialects, but also Bengali, Urdu, Arabic, Creole, and American Sign Language. We truly have a police department as diverse as our great city.
Before I hand it off to the Mayor, I just want to commend our cops, our intelligence analysts, and every member of the NYPD for ensuring another successful U.N. General Assembly, which we’ve just wrapped up. A lot goes into the security and the safety we provide each year in conjunction with our law enforcement partners at the U.S. Secret Service, and all the other agencies involved. Don’t forget despite that, that large event that goes on each and every year, there are still millions of New Yorkers calling 9-1-1. We always respond, we always help, and we never lose focus of our primary mission, and that’s fighting crime and keeping people safe. It’s a huge responsibility. I can tell you that no other police department in our nation so aptly balances traditional crime fighting coupled with the constant evolving threat of terrorism than the NYPD. Today almost 700 new recruits joined our team and we’re looking forward to all the great things they’ll do when they hit our precincts transit districts and police service areas early next year. Mr. Mayor?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you very much, Commissioner. Commissioner, to you, to the leadership team here from the PD, and to all the men and women in the NYPD, congratulations for exceptional efforts in the month of September. I want to echo the point about the U.N. General Assembly. We as New Yorkers get kind of used to the idea that the NYPD will handle this massive, global gathering and we sometimes don’t take time to think about how much effort goes into that, but I watched very carefully Commissioner, I think you and your team, all the men and women in the NYPD did an outstanding job, once again making the General Assembly come off without a hitch and keeping everyone safe, so thank you for that.
This morning was really a joy, the huge class, 697 recruits to see the new energy coming into our department. To see the hope on the faces of so many of these good young people who have made such an important choice. I got a chance to spend time with four of the recruits after and hear their life stories and it was really inspiring. They are in it because they want to serve others and they think this is the very best way to do so. So this is a very good day for our city and the Commissioner talked about the extraordinary diversity of the classes coming in.
Two things really jumped off the page for me, in addition to all the languages spoken, all the different experience people brought, the fact that 27 percent – I think that’s right Commissioner - of this class is women. That’s really good for the NYPD and really good for the City of New York that more and more women are choosing to join the NYPD and we want to keep encouraging that. And also the fact that 60 percent of this class lives in the five boroughs, so more and more people policing in and around communities that they come from. I think that’s really, really helpful in the era of neighborhood policing, and it is crucial to understand that this new generation coming into police department, they hear about the philosophy of neighborhood policing and they get it. It makes sense to them, it’s something they want to be a part of, it’s something they’re going to help us to build and make stronger, so it’s a really good day for this department.
But against a backdrop that we all know has been really tough. Friday was a really tough day for all of us at the funeral of Detective Mulkeen. There is a tremendous sense of loss and of – such a good young man taken so young, everyone is feeling that and it’s painful to see that, everyone’s got on their mind, at the same time the horrible news we received on Saturday morning of the killings in Chinatown, reminds us of what we have to keep building upon. We are the safest big city in America but we always have more to do, and we will be doing more.
When we look at the overall reality of September, we continue to see challenges to work on, but the big picture remains strong. Overall crime down 2.6 percent in September 2019 compared to the same – I’m sorry – for the same period, year to date September 2019 versus year to date last year, crime down 2.6 percent. That’s important progress and September ’19 itself – September of 2019 itself – saw the lowest number of shootings for any month of September in the CompStat era, so that’s a good sign as well. I want to continue to say NYPD will keep innovating, will keep working to figure out what the next things we have to do to keep getting better are, but again, the month of September we saw some very good results and some challenges we will bear down on, and Chief Pollock will go into that in just a moment. Let me just say a few quick words in Spanish.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, turn to Chief Pollock –
Chief of Crime Control Strategies Lori Pollock, NYPD: Good afternoon. As the Mayor said, overall crime increased 1.6 or the equivalent of 135 crimes this September, and overall crime year-to-date is still down 2.6 percent or almost 1,900 crimes. The murder number for the month of September was up one, 29 versus 28. Brooklyn North recorded almost a third of the city’s murders during September – nine versus six – with seven of those murders [inaudible] occurring between the 7-7 and the 8-3 Precincts. Two separate deaths occurred after being struck with vehicles, three people were fatally shot, and two died by force.
The year-to-date murder number as of September was 237 versus 241 which was a decrease of four. Since we’re doing this so late in the month, as of this [inaudible] the murder number at the time – the murder number right now in October is 13 versus seven, and the murder number at the end of the year as of October 8th is 250 versus 249, so that’s plus one.
To give a picture – paint a picture of what the citywide murders look like – domestics account for 16 percent – 40 versus 46. So, we’re down six. Housing – 17 percent of our murders. They are plus four this year. Gang related – 30 percent. Narcotics related – 11 percent. And because of the good work of our detectives, 65 percent of those murders either have an arrest or an identified perpetrator, and 54 percent were deaths by guns which brings us to shootings.
This month, as the Mayor said, was the lowest number of shootings recorded for any September – 67 versus 71. Sadly, Manhattan North bucked that record low and had five more shooting incidents this September than last year – 11 versus six. And these shootings are motivated by marijuana sales, narcotics, and gang violence. But five patrol boroughs had record lows for September.
For the second year in a row, Manhattan South recorded no shootings in September. The Bronx tied a previously low record from 2016 with 19 versus 20. Brooklyn North tied their previous low September with 17 shootings, a decrease of five over last year. Brooklyn South was in single digits for the first time in any September with eight shootings. And Queens North tied the previous record of one shooting for the month of September. This month of September, citywide, we removed 301 guns versus 227 – a 33 percent increase for an additional 74 gun arrests this month.
Shootings for the year, at the end of September, were up 34 – 607 versus 573. Again, we’re starting late so for the month of October we are down seven – 20 versus 27. And today, year-to-date – 627 versus 601. So, that’s an increase of 26. Brooklyn North is up four for the year. The increase is concentrated in the area of the 7-5 which is up 19 shootings for the year. The Bronx is up six shootings year-to-date. The 4-2 Precinct showed an increase of 12 shootings this year – 26 versus 14. Queens North – up 15 shootings year-to-date and that’s spread out across the borough. Manhattan North is up 24 shootings this year for a 41 percent increase for the year – 83 versus 59. And Manhattan South is up 14 versus six. Manhattan as a whole is up 32 shootings this year, primarily driven by marijuana, narcotics, gang violence.
The increases that occurred in Manhattan housing developments – 33 this year versus 18 last year, for a 15-shooting increase. And that’s spread out – Manhattan South is nine versus three, Manhattan North is 23 versus 15.
We have made significant arrests in Manhattan South related to violence in housing and we’ve also identified a box where we have deployed extra high visibility patrol and plain clothes patrols in Manhattan North in areas that are identified as vulnerable to more violence. We continue to work with the Mayor’s Office to prevent gun violence, to bring Violence Interrupters to all neighborhoods including directing the Mobile Trauma Unit to areas including the 2-3 and the 2-5 Precincts.
Our investigative components continues to prevent shootings by gathering intelligence related to retaliation and gun possession to be disseminated to our uniform and plain clothes officers who do the dangerous work of removing guns from our streets. Our long term investigations that are ongoing have a direct correlation to the violence in Manhattan North and Manhattan South. And we always pivot to domestic shooting fatalities because last year we had 16, this year we’re down to two. And year-to-date we’re up 59 guns versus 26 in our domestic gun referral program.
Rape was down last month and is up 26 crimes this month which speaks to the fluctuations in reporting – so, 173 versus 147. The increase is driven primarily by domestic rapes – 60 versus 34. 173 rapes – 150 are reported this year happening this year. Your printed crime brief has more extensive data regarding rape and UCR rape.
Robbery is up 11 percent this September with personal electronic devices the most common item targeted during robberies. Felony assault is down slightly during September. Domestic violence usually represents 40 percent of the total number however there was a decrease of 80 domestic assaults – 625 versus 705 which is now accounting for 36 percent of the total felony assaults.
Grand larceny had an increase of 55 crimes. The category of unattended property – left in auto, left in the back of your chair at a restaurant, on a bench – these types of thefts represent almost 50 percent of grand larcenies and they can be prevented by people being aware of their surroundings. Grand larceny auto increased 586 versus 513 – a 14 percent increase, and these are cars stolen not motorcycles, and very often that car is running.
I’d like to just take a moment to talk about burglary. It is again at an all-time low, falling below 1,000 for the first time in September with 857 burglary reports. This is the 12th consecutive month New York City has seen a reduction in burglary. These reductions are seen across the city with six of our eight patrol boroughs setting all-time lows in September and for 2019 year-to-date. Burglary is a crime that doesn’t discriminate and it is an intense violation when a criminal invades your home or business. The work of our NCOs, sectors, detectives, and evidence control specialist cannot be overstated. Burglary is a labor intensive crime which is solved between forensics, canvassing for witnesses, and scouring a neighborhood for video, and looking for stolen property often times with more than a day lag from occurrence to reporting.
Since the inception of neighborhood policing in 2015, there has been a 30 percent reduction in burglaries. In other words there are over 3,000 fewer burglary victims since the inception of neighborhood policing in 2015. So, thank you very much.
Commissioner O’Neill: Alright, we’ll take some questions on the September crime stats.
Question: I have a question about the hate crime statistics – two. The first is what constitutes other and the second is that I saw that there is a 92 percent increase in crimes against white people [inaudible] on that.
Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, NYPD: So, just broad numbers – when you look at the hate crimes through this week – plus 80 on the incidents. That comes out to a 33 percent increase. When you look at the arrests, we’re plus 25 on the arrests. It’s a 21 percent increase. When you look at the categories of crime, it continues to be anti-Semitic which is driving the overall. As to the other categories, as you can see from that sheet I believe we put out, we list many. What falls into the other category is when you have duplications. So you may have a crossover with more than one category and we’d be willing to break that out for you.
Question: [Inaudible] white people, I mean just because it’s the largest uptick is there any duplication with that as well?
Chief Shea: No, there is not duplication but we’re seeing really is no specific patterns, really, citywide in terms of that – percentage-wise, big increase, but in terms of numbers certainly not driving the city.
Question: [Inaudible] there’s no like specific neighborhoods where [inaudible]—
Chief Shea: No specific patterns.
Commissioner O’Neill: Any other questions about Crime Stats? Ashley?
Question: In September there was the shooting in the Edenwald Houses that preceded Officer Mulkeen’s death. I’m wondering if any suspects have been identified, have there been any arrests?
Commissioner O’Neill: Are you talking about the shots fired job the week before, Dermott?
Chief Shea: So yeah that, excuse me Ashley, that was on the 27th, a couple of days earlier. What was alarming about that incident from a deployment standpoint, from Rodney and myself in investigative, is the number of firearms. We believe there were up to five firearms at the scene of that shooting, not all deployed. In terms of the individuals, we are actively working on identifying who was out there, what role individuals had, and we will address it as we do everything: with precision.
Question: Commissioner, you mentioned that you all were in discussions with the Bronx District Attorney to release some of that body camera footage. What’s the status of that?
Commissioner O’Neill: We’re in discussions – this is an active investigation with the Bronx DA’s Office. So at some point, I’d like Chief Maloney and Chief Monahan to walk everybody through that shooting. Going to end up releasing some of it but certainly not to the point where right before Detective Mulkeen gets shot, just to what lead up to it.
Question: I asked you this question yesterday, and maybe something has changed in the last 24 hours. I’m wondering if Mr. Williams was identified as a suspect in that shots fired, or if he had anything to do with those groups that you believe to be involved.
Chief Shea: It’s a little preliminary but at this time no. But it’s an active investigation.
Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, Julia.
Question: Could you elaborate on the shootings related to pot sales. What is happening there that’s driving that?
Commissioner O’Neill: Sure. Lori, you want to go into that?
Chief Pollock: We just see, particularly in Manhattan North, shootings that involve either a, competition amongst dealers on the street, or rips where they’re moving amounts of money and marijuana and that’s resulting in one party robbing the other.
Question: Is this gang related, or—
Chief Pollock: Yes, yes.
Commissioner O’Neill: Yup?
Question: I’m wondering if there was anything more on the vandals who attacked the Williamsburg Synagogue on Rosh Hashanah.
Commissioner O’Neill: Let’s – we’ll get to that in a second. Anymore questions about September crime numbers? Yeah, Dave?
Question: Commissioner, you may have mentioned at the beginning when you were talking about the recruit class, I think you mentioned that 27 percent of the class is women. What is the minority break down of the class?
Deputy Commissioner Tucker: The class is minority. So, 27 percent – so whites are 34 percent, Hispanics 32 percent, African-Americans 17 percent, and Asians 13 percent.
Question: [Inaudible] go back to the hate crimes numbers. There was a big uptick in the number of Asian people who were targets, from one to nine. I’m wondering if a group in particular is being targeted or if what was one—
Chief Shea: The one that stands out with that one, if you think back earlier this year, that terrible incident in I want to say the 61st Precinct, where the individual went into the Chinese restaurant with a hammer and struck and killed multiple people. I believe that was four of the incident right there. Of the top of my head, the other five I don’t recall. That’s year to date but we can certainly follow up with you.
Commissioner O’Neill: Alright, any other questions about the September crime numbers? If not we’ll move on to off-topic police. Yeah?
Question: So just going back to the Rosh Hashanah vandals attacking a Williamsburg synagogue last week. Any updates on the investigation and the arrests?
Chief Shea: Yeah, so I’ll just dig a little deeper into some of the hate crime statistics. Citywide, year-to-date, anti-Semitic hate crimes are up 59, raw numbers, that’s a 53 percent increase, as I said, that does make up the majority of the overall citywide hate crimes. The number one precinct that we see is the 9-4, with 13. They’re up 13 versus three.
Specifically, just in the last couple of weeks, a couple that may or may not tie together. It’s a little ongoing in terms of the investigation but we have the incident you’re talking about where a crate was thrown through a synagogue window. We put out a poster of that. We’re asking the public for any information. On that poster that we put out you see a female in possession of the crate and actually flings it through, causing the damage. But that female is accompanied by another female as well as a male, at least. It’s interesting to note the female is there because then we have, in the 7-9 precinct, three incidents where individuals are targeted on the street by, it’s often described as interchangeable young kids sometimes, and there are at times males but it’s in these, at least, mostly females where they’re going up to – in one instance it’s a female, white, 22, in another incident it’s a female, white, 25, and pulling wigs off of their head. Then they have a third incident, also with female perpetrators where they go up to some young kids and start hitting their hair. Now, it’s unknown if they’re trying to pull the hair, it was in fact not a wig. So you have, in close proximity there the incident at the synagogue, you have these three incidents that I’m talking about, female’s the common denominator in them, and they’re actively being worked on by our hate crimes task force.
Question: And then, just to follow up, I know some Jewish community leaders and councilmen called on the Mayor and the NYPD to deploy more boots on the ground for the upcoming holidays.
Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, so Chief Monahan and Chief Harrison met with Councilmember Chaim Deutsch this morning. So I don’t know if Rodney or Terry, one of you want to talk about the meeting?
Chief Monahan: Yeah, I’ll jump in. We put out a lot of resources, especially tonight with Yom Kippur. Our counterterrorism unit is going to be putting out over 130 some-odd police officers at various synagogues throughout the city. I think over a quarter of them are going to be in Brooklyn. There’s been some overtime put out, we’re figuring a good 20-25 additional cars working in those areas, working around the synagogues, all night with their turret lights on. Our neighborhood coordination officers, in our steady sectors have been tasked to go and visit every one of their synagogues that are having services within their sector today. So we’re going to have a very large presence out in Brooklyn and throughout the city tonight through Yom Kippur.
Commissioner O’Neill: Hazel?
Question: What about once the high holidays are over, will we be increasing security in those predominately Jewish neighborhoods considering the uptick in anti-Semitic crimes?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, we’ll continue to work with community leaders and elected officials, the precinct commanders will work to make sure in conjunction with the NCOs to make sure that there’s – the people feel comfortable with the coverage that we have.
Question: Commissioner, do we know, and Mr. Mayor, if Randy Santos acted under the influence of drugs, was it mental illness, was it a combination of the two, and do you know if any new city or program, or initiative allowed him to be on the streets instead of waiting in jail for the cases that—
Commissioner O’Neill: Alright so why don’t we do this. Chief Shea will just give you a very general background on where we are with the investigation. We don’t want to get too specific because this is an ongoing case.
Chief Shea: So in terms of Mr. Santos, Saturday he was stopped – some excellent work by the officers – shortly after the horrific crimes took place. Throughout Saturday and into Sunday we worked very closely with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and were able to bring charges of murder for the individuals that lost their lives in that terrible incident. In terms of the mental state or capacity of the individual I don’t think that’s appropriate at this point. There is a forum for that to be worked out through the courts. We had probable cause to make the arrest and I would refer any questions regarding his mental state to the prosecutor’s office. I would ask, regarding Mr. Santos, to anyone with information about not just these incidents any other victims that may be out there. We have an active investigation into another incident where Mr. Santos may have played a roll, we believe he did. It occurred approximately one week before where he encountered a homeless person again sleeping on the West Side this time. So anyone with any other information, no matter how small, please call our Crimes Stoppers unit and we will funnel that to the appropriate detectives.
Commissioner O’Neill: Julie.
Chief Shea: In the other incident we had an individual that was sleeping, approximately just north of Chelsea Piers if you’re familiar with the area on the West Side Highway. The individual was woken up being hit by an object. There was a physical confrontation where the individual believes that the possibility exists that he was being attempted to be thrown over the bannister into the water. When you look back at that incident now, we have recovered, as we sit here today video of Mr. Santos, not close, but in proximity to that crime, approximately seven blocks away, within the distance that he clearly could have been at that scene. So that is an active investigation. Unfortunately in that incident the individual was asleep, we don’t have individuals that can readily identify him but we’re building that case as we go forward.
Question: And the condition of the individual?
Chief Shea: He’s stable.
Question: Stable as in the hospital?
Chief Shea: He sustained cuts to his chest, and if he was hospitalized it was not serious is my understanding.
Question: Chief, that victim reported it to police at the time at happened?
Chief Shea: Yes, ma’am he did.
Question: What day did that happen?
Chief Shea: That was on September 27th.
Question: Was the weapons recovered in that?
Chief Shea: No there was not a weapon recovered.
Question: What time on the 27th?
Chief Shea: That I don’t know.
Question: Any idea what –
Chief Shea: They were sleeping, I believe it was on the overnight. We can certainly get back to you.
Question: Do you know what he used to beat the men?
Chief Shea: No, it’s described in that case as a stick. Again, you have an individual that was sleeping that was, in my understanding, not readily capable of providing significant facts. Was awoken, you can imagine woken up from a sleep and under attack. So, we’ll go forward with the investigation. As again – again, I said we did not have anyone at that time. But, as we go forward a week and now we have Mr. Santos in custody and start piecing together pieces of this puzzle. We have him approximately seven blocks away, very clear video who we believe is Mr. Santos on that evening. And we believe he was responsible for that attack at this point.
Question: Why do you think this victim survived whereas the other four men didn’t stand a chance?
Chief Shea: That would be speculation. I’ll stay away from that right now.
Question: Can you describe where this man was sleeping?
Chief Shea: Yeah, he was on a bench on the West Side Highway, again just north of Chelsea Piers in the 20’s. If you’re familiar with it there’s a bike path, then there’s some trees, then there’s inside of a bike path a beautiful walking area.
Unknown: Last call.
Question: And Mr. Mayor, can you talk about Kendra’s Law, and you committed to enforcing Kendra’s Law in 2015 [inaudible]. Has it been an increase on the times that Kendra’s Law has been enforced under your watch in the last [inaudible] years?
Mayor: The numbers I have for, I believe this is all of 2018, but we’ll confirm this for you, was that Kendra’s Law was used 2,500 times approximately. So I don’t know the specifics of how that compares to each of the previous years. We can get you that. But the point is, I believe it is an important law that we should use whenever appropriate. We have to follow that law. It is one of the tools. And we’re going to use – we have been using Kendra’s Law, we will be using Kendra’s Law but there’s a lot of other things that we have to do even more of, and that involves more outreach teams which we’ve been building up over recent years, more investments in mental health professionals for shelters and other facilities. This is going to be a long effort to really reach people as early as possible in whatever their trajectory is. And that’s where investments are going. The goal here is to identify anyone with a problem as early as possible and act on it. Whether that’s using Kendra’s Law or any other tool we have.
Question: Are you aware we can see an increase in people in homeless in New York in the last year that could seem to suffer some mental illness. Why is there an increase at least visibly not only in the subway system, but only in the streets?
Mayor: I don’t know – from my information that I’ve been given. I don’t know if that’s the whole story. I mean what we know looking at the shelter system versus the street, the shelter system used to be much, much higher percentage of folks with mental health challenges and substance abuse challenges. We know that shelter system has changed profoundly and now more and more what we can call economic homelessness. The street has always been a place where the primary problems were mental health challenges and substance abuse challenges. The number of the street homeless in the last HOPE count actually went down. It’s still a very real problem but we know the Home Stat strategy is staring to work. We’ve gotten over 2,000 people in and they’ve stayed in. We’ve got a lot more to do. But I don’t know if we can say there’s been a change in the reality. I think the very sad truth is we’ve always had a substantial number of folks with mental health challenges on the street and that goes back to deinstitutionalization in the 70’s and the 80’s. What we have to do now that we’ve never done before, and we’re trying to do that through Thrive and other strategies is put in place consistent pervasive mental health services for people who are on the street, who are in shelter, but even more importantly before they ever end up in one of those situations.
Question: What do you say to the critics that say that the Chinatown murders are proof that that Thrive NYC isn’t working?
Mayor: I think that’s an absolute misunderstanding of what’s going on here. We have a very tragic incident here. But not one from what we know so far that could possibly have been predicted from what we saw in this case. Now, there’s a full investigation going on, as we learn more we’re going to say what we can say. There are privacy laws obviously. We have to be careful about that. But in any incident we want to know what we can learn from it. We want to do things differently. If there’s something we need to do differently but no, I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding going on here. We – with mental health, you don’t get a road map, you don’t get a – the easy dynamic of knowing what’s going to happen with a human being. What we know is there’s a lot of people with mental health challenges who are not getting treatment. And we have to change that at the foundation. That’s the whole concept of Thrive we’re going to deepen that constantly. Because a lot of people if we could reach them early, again, they’d never end up on the street. They’d never end up violent if we could reach them early enough.
Question: Mr. Mayor, sad to say that the New York Post published a very scathing report about ThriveNYC. How would you respond to that in terms of what you know about it firsthand?
Mayor: Well, I would say that I don’t turn to the New York Post for facts and the truth is that ThriveNYC is an attempt to do what has never been done before, which is to create pervasive access to mental health services in New York City. It’s never been done in this country. It should have been done a long time ago, it should have been in done in this city a long time ago. It will not happen easily because we’re trying to right something so wrong, you know, that mental health and physical health have never been treated the same in our society and that’s part of what we’re paying for now. This is something that should have been done a long time ago, very deeply. But we’re going to constantly change that reality by having a whole lot more mental health professionals out there. A lot more access to mental health services, a lot more information so people know where to turn, a lot easier ability for people to turn for help. And we’re going to keep doing that and it’s already reached hundreds of thousands of people, it’s going to reach a lot more.
Question: Mr. Mayor, is this specific crime - the murders in Chinatown – inspiring a shift in policy when it comes to either homelessness or mental health or policing, but is there a specific change in policy that will result from these murders?
Mayor: No, until we have more information. The fact is and I’ll speak for myself and the Commissioner can speak in terms of his efforts with PD. Right now we have an investigation that, until we know all the facts, we cannot judge what changes we might make. Once we get all the facts, we might see something we want to do differently. But right now the goal is to get every homeless person off the street which is through the Home Stat strategy which has actually been working and we finally are seeing a reduction in street homelessness. We’ve got a lot more to do, and particularly in the subways. In terms of public safety in general, obviously the strategies generally are working, and we want to keep deepening them, but they’re working. In terms of mental health we’ve got a lot more services to a lot more people earlier and that’s what Thrive is attempting to do. So the basic strategies are the right ones, but we’re going to learn from this case and see if there’s something we have to do differently.
Question: [Inaudible] I want to ask you about NYC Safe, it’s an initiative you rolled out in 2015 with various services for mentally ill people. I’m tempted to know if you can tell me how many people have interacted with that service since it began. And if you know if Randy Santos – I know in the past, the city was able to say that certain suspects were involved in New York City Safe and the programs it offered.
Mayor: NYC Safe involved coordination of key agencies including the Health Department, involving on health information, and there are privacy laws, so I don’t think it is appropriate in certain cases to talk about what happened with individuals. But we can talk about the broad strokes of what we’re learning for sure. So in this case we don’t have all the facts yet, they’re still being put tougher by PD and others. In the overall situation we’ll get you the exact numbers but we know that a number of people were identified and constantly monitored and got mental health services, which was the goal of it. But we can get you an update on how many have been covered.
Question: You don’t have any – because the –
Mayor: I don’t have the latest numbers.
Question: [Inaudible] the actual data [inaudible] data.
Mayor: Again, we’ll get you what we can within the law.
Question: Mr. Mayor, yesterday I spoke to the director of Thrive who said that somebody can be removed from the street if they are a danger to themselves or others. Obviously, Mr. Santos has a history of violence. So why couldn’t he have been removed?
Mayor: I have to turn to PD from what they know so far, and again it is a preliminary investigation. Each case is different, so I just want to caution. I think – I said this last night on NY1, there is – we had to have an honest conversation as New Yorkers. I think a lot of people would like the easy solution just anyone who seems to be a problem is removed and sent to a mental institution. That’s what happened in this state, and this country for decades and decades. It led to horrific outcomes for a lot of people. And then all of that was turned around with deinstitutionalization which then was done so poorly, it led to the modern homelessness crisis. So we don’t want to go back on that merry-go-round. We need to be really clear about that moment where someone is a danger to themselves or others where they should be forcibly removed from the streets, where they should be compelled to get treatment, versus a situation where there’s other tools we have to use. We have to be careful about that because we don’t have endless capacity to put people in mental institutions, because that can have huge negative consequences itself and because it’s a country of laws that respects individual liberty. So that’s a really fine line. But in every case, just to finish the idea. In every case the question is, was that standard met? And with Kendra’s Law for example there are very specific standards in the law. You had to have been hospitalized for example – one standard is you have to have been hospitalized multiple times for a mental health condition. These are the things that we need to look at in this case. Would it have been the kind of conditions to trigger the use of Kendra’s Law? As I said we use it frequently. We have to look at each case, and whether it’s the appropriate thing to use.
Question: Is there a data base for people who are trouble or violent, that they are tracked. How does anybody track people who have the potential again –
Mayor: So before the last few years, to the best of my knowledge there wasn’t. And that’s why we created the NYC Safe approach that Katie was just referring too. That tracks people to make sure they are getting treatment or they may be appropriately incarcerated or in a mental institution or whatever it may happen to be. That again has to be done with respect to the law, to privacy rights, to individual liberty. But it’s the first time we’ve ever had the capacity to actually monitor to make sure people are getting the treatment they are supposed to be getting. There is much more to do. But at least we have something that gives us the ability to do that now.
Question: And where do you draw the line and say this person has gone over the line and is a threat to himself and to others?
Mayor: Each case –
Commissioner O’Neill: Every case is individual. We do have, the NYPD, on our end we do have the co-response units. Where we have two police officers with the mental health professional that they go out each day and visit people proactively to see that things are continuing to be okay for them and if they are in need of additional assistance. But it’s a difficult call like you said, how do you draw the line? We’ve had interactions, I think he was arrested six prior times right? And a number of sealed arrests also, [inaudible] bring him into the criminal justice system those determinations need to be made.
Question: So in Mr. Santos’s prior interactions with NYPD, I think they number up to 14 or 17. Does the NYPD keep any record of how often arrestees are sent from psychiatric evaluation? And the second question I want to ask is, where, what’s the status of the identification of the fifth victim? Do you have a tentative name, are you doing dental or DNA to try to figure out who he is, where that is?
Commissioner O’Neill: We have him with six arrests and a number of others are sealed arrests. And I think we have one [inaudible] where he was removed. I don’t know when the year is, I have to give you a check on that information. But this information that, that we compile and after we arrest them, we work with the prosecutor’s office to figure out what the proper avenue is here for this person that we arrested.
Question: Yeah, right but in any prior incidents, was he taken to Bellevue or a similar hospital for a psych eval before he was placed under arrest?
Commissioner O’Neill: I would have to get back to you Ashley.
Question: And the on the ID of the fifth victim?
Chief Shea: Within the last 12 hours we believe we have an identification on the fifth family. The family has not yet been notified.
Question: Do you have any – can you say anything about his age, or race and any prior contacts with NYPD –
Chief Shea: He’s a male Hispanic, approximately 39 years of age and I will leave it at. And we’ll have it probably soon as soon as we can make a notification to family.
Question: And what’s his condition? Is he in the hospital [inaudible]?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yes, second row.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you said earlier that you don’t trust any facts that you read in the New York Post. So I was just curious why you would go on Fox News and other News Corp channels to promote yourself if you are accusing one of their major properties of being in factually inaccurate.
Mayor: I’ll happily answer it when we do this.
Unknown: We’ll finish police off topic and then –
Commissioner O’Neill: A reset.
Question: Mr. Mayor, do you have any reaction to the hearing, Middle Village, I think it was last night on the homeless shelter –
Mr. Mayor: Again we are still on police off topic. Let’s finish that and then we will go to other things.
Question: Commissioner, you said you would be having a separate update about the Edenwald Houses incident [inaudible]
Commissioner O’Neill: Yes.
Question: Do you have any details to offer about why [inaudible] Williams was stopped in the first place? Did he have a gun out? Did they –
Commissioner O’Neill: I want to give you a full briefing on it, I don’t want to do it piece meal. Okay.
Question: What is your response to the Bronx DA releasing a list of cops with credibility issues and do you think other DAs should do the same?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, Deputy Commissioner Hart will speak about that. Ernie?
Deputy Commissioner Ernest Hart, Legal Matters, NYPD: Let me give you a little bit of a background. 2014 the Police Department itself organized an adverse credibility finding committee in an effort to understand why courts, federal and state courts were finding credibility problems with some of the testimony that police officers gave in the past. When we look at each adverse credibility finding, we determine, first of all whether or not we agree with it. If we do there is a – could be training, could be reassignment. If there’s really purposeful wrong doing, then it would be referred to Internal Affairs and or the department advocate. This is an issue that we understand that we take seriously and just want to make sure that police officers understand what is expected of them could be they are nervous, could be a lot of reasons. So we do take this seriously and you know we are continuing to look at it.
Question: Do you think other DA offices should follow suit?
Deputy Commissioner Hart: It’s not a question of whether or not they should. It’s a question that we have to deal with and we are.
Question: Commissioner, there’s been some debate about the department’s use of facial recognition. Some efforts to regulate, both proposals to ban government agencies from using it as with San Francisco or just to require the NYPD to [inaudible] information about all its technology. Can you speak to why this kinds of technology is useful to the department and how would you react to proposals to ban [inaudible]?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, I’d absolutely be opposed to a ban. I think it’s a tool that we use. Again, it’s not – it’s a lead. No one is being arrested solely on a facial recognition hit. There is so much video in the city, New York City today that to not use facial recognition would be irresponsible. It brings justice to a lot of the victims out there, enabling us to use that. And to eventually using it as a lead to apprehend people who are doing other people harm.
Question: I was wondering if you are changing police training in an anyway as a response to the incident with Detective Mulkeen?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah Chief Shortell will speak about that. Theresa is the Chief of Training.
Chief of Training Theresa Shortell, NYPD: Okay. Excuse me. So this week we’ve started an advanced tactical pistol course, all the anti-crime cops are going through the course together as a team. And this is certainly going to help us with the tactics that we see as a concern. We also tactical videos that are going to be going out on a bi-weekly bases. Again we identify tactics that we see are a concern and we put it out there. We also, last week opened up the tact center, the tact centers are over in the 1-11 Precinct. It’s a borough based tactical training that will give us a footprint throughout the city. And these tact centers will be opened up throughout the city as we move on.
Question: Chief Shortell, how many officers are we talking about when you say all anti-crime cops? And can you just generally help the public understand what you mean when you say advance pistol training?
Chief Shortell: So you’re asking how many for plain clothes are anti-crime?
Question: How many are going through this training that you are speaking about?
Chief Shortell: Well the training, just to let you know, is going to be two instructors to one MOS as the ratio. Which is a hands on ratio. And probably about 900 anti-crime cops in plain clothes in the precincts and then we are going to be doing the other various units also.
Question: Can you help the public understand what you mean when you say advanced technical pistol training?
Chief Shortell: It’s any issue that we see as, could be gun retention, it could be, chasing somebody versus surveillance on somebody. Anything that we as a concern, we try to share best practices you know from borough to borough. Any lesson we learn in the Bronx, we don’t want to repeat it in Brooklyn and vice versa.
Commissioner O’Neill: Dave.
Question: Commissioner, [inaudible] in Battery Park. Has the Police Department interacted at all with Alec Baldwin and his family [inaudible]?
Commissioner O’Neill: Not on this, on other cases.
Mayor: Drop the mic there. Very good. Wow. He saw that pitch coming.
Mayor: You good?
Commissioner O’Neill: Ashley you need clarification on anything?
Question: It was my fault. I’ll ask [inaudible]
Commissioner O’Neill: It’s okay.
Question: Following up on his question though, did the Baldwin’s have anything to do with the cease and desist of [inaudible]?
Commissioner O’Neill: Is that driving our enforcement down at Battery Park City? No.
Question: What’s that?
Commissioner O’Neill: Is that driving our efforts at Battery Park?
Question: Well the announcement today that you had sent out a cease and desist order –
Mayor: This has been an ongoing reality. We’ve been after this company for a while and that’s just the beginning. If they continue to ignore our enforcement efforts we will try and put them out of business. You can quote me. Yes?
Question: Yeah. I just wanted to fall back on the other question I asked. You know, you’ve routinely say things about New York Post, you don’t believe their reporting, they are inaccurate, they are wrong, the facts can’t be trusted. I mean they are owned by the same company that you used to boost your own presidential campaign?
Mayor: That’s your way of seeing it respectfully. I don’t see it that way. I’ve said very openly. And first of all, everything you said about my statements on New York Post, absolutely accurate. It is an ideological newspaper period. And not given to the facts. The Fox Network, I’ve said very clearly, I don’t agree with what they say but they do give a platform to folks who disagree with them to speak directly to their viewers and their viewers matter. We are talking about millions and millions of Americans who just because they watch Fox doesn’t mean they don’t matter and they aren’t people with open minds and aren’t people that we, I’m speaking now as a Democrat and a progressive, that we shouldn’t be talking to. So I’ve been real clear about that if they give you a chance to talk to their viewers, in an open way, that makes sense to take advantage of as with any other network. It’s very different than what happens on the print side.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you sound a little bit like President Trump when you talk about –
Mayor: No –
Mayor: No, because you can’t – respectfully, I just think that’s such a jump and I don’t know how anyone could legitimately say that. The President attacks the media writ large in wildly inappropriate terms. He doesn’t believe in our Constitutional system, he doesn’t believe in our democratic approach, he doesn’t believe in independent media. How on earth could anyone call the media an enemy of the state when it’s thought of by the founding fathers as part of the guarantees of our freedom. That’s very different than acknowledging that a particular outlet has a consistent ideological bent and is willing to work the facts in the name of their ideology. If we can’t have that conversation out loud, there’s something wrong with our democracy in another direction. So, each one of your outlets is very different and I can see that, Donald Trump can’t see that. It’s not even close.
You had a question before?
Question: Yeah, I was going to ask about your reaction to the controversial hearing last night about the homeless shelter in Middle Village. I think you reacted on Twitter to –
Mayor: Yeah, but let me put it in my own more personal terms. So, I was a City Council member and I represented a district in Brooklyn that was overwhelmingly homeowners and very tight-knit communities. I understand why anyone that when they hear of a homeless shelter coming in why they’re worried at first. Our job is to answer those concerns, to make sure that the shelter is done in a way that’s safe, that responds to the real and legitimate community concerns. At the same time, we’ve established clearly that every community has to have the shelter capacity to handle the amount of people that they put into our shelter system. And when it comes to that community board, that’s the whole idea – to reflect the reality. I think the last time I saw it was something like a couple-hundred people come out of that community board, go into our shelter system on a consistent basis, therefore there has to be some shelter in that community. We want people to be closer to their home communities, we want them to get back on their feet and get out of shelter, and every community has to be a part of that. This was, from what everything our team could see, the best place to put a shelter, but we’re going to keep working with the community to try and make it work as well as possible for everyone.
Question: So, Mr. Mayor, why are you dismantling a shelter – the one on West 107th Street –
Mayor: Not dismantling a shelter, respectfully – that’s not what’s happening. It’s just changing who’s going to be in it.
Question: But this is a community that has welcomed shelters, this is a community where [inaudible] are working and then training. So, why are they getting moved all over the place –
Mayor: Because just the reality – so, again, I’ll set the stage overall. A lot of you have reported on, rightfully, some of the problems in the shelter system, including what’s wrong with the cluster sites, what’s wrong with the hotels that we pay for by the day. The whole goal from two years ago to now is, get out of those sites, build the capacity around the communities all over the city that need them. But, in the meantime, we see changes within the population of people in shelter and we have to respond to that. Of late, it’s been more single men, and we have to, by law, find them a place, and we don’t have limitless options. So, when we see the composition of the population change, we have to act. If we didn’t have to, of course we wouldn’t. I appreciate that shelter and I appreciate what the community has done with it, but, at a certain point, if you’ve got more people of a different gender, you have to do something about it.
Question: Mr. Mayor, I have a two-part question on early voting. I’m just wondering what you make of the city’s preparations so far [inaudible]. And also, my understanding is that the DOE only [inaudible] schools on Saturday – that they [inaudible]. Principals are feeling caught off guard. I’m wondering if you think that [inaudible]?
Mayor: Well, a couple of things. First of all, you’re right that 61 is better than what they originally proposed at the Board of Elections, but it’s still not as good as what I thought it should be and what we were willing to fund them for, which was over 100. So, I hope we can keep making progress. This year is just a warm up, next year there’s going to be possibly the highest turnout we’ve seen in our lifetime. I am very concerned that the 61 may not be enough. In terms of promotion, there better be a lot of it, it’s a brand new thing. I’m thrilled – early voting is a fantastic thing. I’m not happy with the Board of Elections for their skimping on the sites, but I’m very happy with the State Legislature for passing the bill. We have to promote it in a big way and that means the Board has to do better outreach than it historically has done. Of course, our Democracy NYC effort will also do a lot of outreach to people to let them know. And then on the schools – I had not heard that. I mean, I’ll check in with the Chancellor, but I think a month to get ready is a decent amount of time and we’ll do our best to work with it.
Question: Mr. Mayor, Battery Park ticket sales have [inaudible] what has been accomplished over the last few years in dealing with, you know, fighting people selling false tickets? And if Alec Baldwin is not the prompt for what you announced today, then what specifically – was there anything specifically that prompted –
Mayor: First of all, no, this has not been resolved and I’m not happy about it. I don’t think my colleagues here are happy about it either. We need to be more aggressive. The ideas we’re talking about that are coming out today did not spring up in the last 24 hours, I assure you. We can get you some of that history. But there’s been real efforts at enforcement. They haven’t gotten us where we need to go, which means we have to be more aggressive.
Question: Just to follow on that – I think what my colleagues are trying to ask is, did Alec Baldwin’s publication of his getting scammed play at all into the announcement this morning? Or is it complete coincidence?
Mayor: Yeah, there’s nothing I know that suggest that, because, again, this idea had been in the works already. But again, we’re happy to get you the chapter and verse.
Question: Mayor, the homeless issue – you spoke to people’s legitimate concerns about homeless shelters in their neighborhoods, but you have videos of people saying that shelters should be burned down, calling homeless people low-lives, saying, “Get the f out of here,” etcetera. Especially in line with the recent murders, do you have a reaction to that kind of rhetoric?
Mayor: It’s entirely unacceptable. I mean this is – these are human beings. There’s a phrase – ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ What we have to educate the people of the city about is that the vast majority of homeless people in shelter right now are there because they simply couldn’t make ends meet. And that means these are working people, these are folks who were trying their damnedest and just couldn’t afford the rent or just didn’t have the kind of job that gave them enough money to keep going. And our job is to turn them around, their lives around, get them to affordable – get them back on their feet. We’ve done that with over 100,000 people in the last six years.
So, no, there’s no place for that kind of rhetoric. I don’t think that’s what most people think. I think that might be a few people and they’re being whipped up by some negative voices. But most people that I’ve talked to across the city – remember I’ve done 65 town hall meetings, I’ve heard from plenty of New Yorkers about their concerns on this – they just want to know they’re going to be safe. They want to know the quality of their life in their community is going to be okay. And it’s our job to make sure that that happens.
Question: Mr. Mayor, Cuomo said that there are –
Mayor: Who said? I’m sorry –
Question: The Governor said that there was a vaping-related death in the Bronx – the state’s first death. I was wondering if you were aware of that.
Mayor: I had not heard that.
Question: Back to the homelessness issue and Thrive. Your office announced yesterday some outreach teams into the Chinatown community. We’ve had several reporters out there and we’ve spoken to some police and nonprofit sources who say the teams aren’t visible. So, I’m wondering how you measure the impact. And then on Thrive, this question was asked in a way earlier but are you considering moving or refocusing it to help the seriously mentally ill?
Mayor: This has been asked a bunch of times and answered a bunch of times, and I’ll try and do it again. There’s a big part of what Thrive does that is focused on the seriously mentally ill and the whole underlying idea is to not say we’re going to focus on a few people but to create a consistent ability of people to access mental health services from the beginning. This is the only way we solve the bigger problem. It’s like if you said, you know, we’re only going to put police where there’s been the most violent crimes and not have police everywhere else. You have to protect everyone. You have to serve everyone. In the case of mental health, unlike so many other things, the earlier you catch a problem, the more chance it never becomes a serious problem or context of violence. So, it’s not an either or. We’re going to continue to deepen it as a citywide way of getting people access to mental health services across the board.
On the Chinatown situation – that just started in terms of getting those outreach teams out there in bigger number. They should be visible and people should feel their presence. If there’s something more we have to do, we’ll do it.
Question: And you said violent – you know, we don’t just put cops in violent places but don’t we put more cops in violent places? So, shouldn't we put more resources to help the seriously mentally ill?
Mayor: The point is that we have an aggressive approach to the seriously mentally ill right now and we’ve got huge, huge numbers of people with mental health challenges. So, again, the number of people estimated in this city to have a mental challenge is over 1.5 million and they have to be served. And if we don’t create a consistent system, we’re going to continue to pay for it. That’s just the problem we’ve had. We never had mental health services available to people the right way. So, we’re going to do that while also attending to the most serious cases. That’s why we have NYC Safe, that’s why we have a host of initiatives that are focused on people with the greatest need.
Question: [Inaudible] follow-up [inaudible] about NYC Safe. I know previously it was DHS doing outreach. I want to know is the NYPD also involved in redirecting people [inaudible] –
Mayor: When you say redirecting – I’m sorry.
Question: Not redirecting but encouraging people and monitoring people. I know that was the plan in 2016 to have the NYPD involved and I want to know –
Mayor: Well, again, let’s – we’ll get you the details about how it works, again, while respecting the relevant privacy laws. But the idea is that pertinent agencies are able to pool information and that there’s a central point to ensure that people get the follow-up they need. But we’ll get you the mechanics of it.
Question: [Inaudible] point through DHS, Department of Health [inaudible] –
Mayor: The Department of Health is the most crucial piece of the equation because they have access to the kind of information that is needed to glue all this together and, again, protected by privacy laws. So, we’ll get you more on how it works while at the same time, again, respecting those privacy laws. Let’s see if there’s a last call here. Going once, twice, thanks everyone – sorry, Rich, go ahead. Get that hand up higher, Rich. You were hiding there.
Question: I can’t resist asking this – since the president [inaudible] referred to himself as a very stable genius in the past, very recently he referred to his great and unmatched wisdom following the withdrawal of the troops from northern Syria. What goes through your mind, Mr. Mayor, when you hear these things [inaudible] what do you think?
Mayor: It’s sad. It’s not believable that we’re going through this. I look at it sometimes – I just can’t believe this is happening to America. And there’s no president in history who would have said those things. So, I mean, here’s a bipartisan statement. Right. Of all the presidents in the history of this country, literally not a single one of them would ever have said those things. And if they had they would have been considered a national embarrassment and there’s something wrong with us that we’ve gotten used to it. So, I don’t – I think it’s a temporary condition. I think it’s going to be over soon. But, no, we can’t ever go through this again. It’s embarrassing to us as Americans, it undermines our position in the world, it’s destroying people’s faith in their government. How can anyone say that? In a million years, I couldn’t utter those words. I wouldn’t believe them myself.