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Transcript: Mayor Eric Adams Calls in Live to WABC's "Bernie & Sid in the Morning" Radio Show

December 6, 2022

Sid Rosenberg: All right, well, thank you for that. That does bring us to the man who's in charge of this city, and a lot of good news the last month in terms of numbers and crime, and that is the Mayor Eric Adams. Mayor Adams, good morning. How are you, pal?

Mayor Eric Adams: Quite well. Quite well. Good to speak with you this morning. And I think that that case that was just spoken about really is an indicator. This is a career criminal with several arrests. I'm going to be brief. We were up to about 3 a.m. trying to locate him before he carried out another homicide. But he is the poster child of just a failing system of keeping dangerous people off our street. No matter how many times police officers carry out their job, this was a bad person who just had one desire and that's to inflict harm on innocent people.

Rosenberg: You are right. And that is part of the frustration, especially this audience, Mayor Adams — which is for the most part Republican, conservative — with you. And I try to explain to them that it's Kathy Hochul's policies, and Andrew Cuomo before her, that the legislators up in Albany do not pay attention when you go there and try to reform some of these cashless bail laws. But let's get it on record. When these things happen, it disgusts you. You're not happy about it. And if you had the power to change it today, you would do it. Yes?

Mayor Adams: No, without a doubt. And I know that people tend to get caught up on the exact politics of it. But let me tell you, Governor Hochul has been a partner. Some of the incremental changes we have been able to make, if I didn't have her assisting me, I would not have been able to do some of the things around discovery. Our transit plan was really with her. We need to get those lawmakers who just don't have a real touch with what's playing out on the streets, we need to get them aligned to what everyday New Yorkers want around public safety and even the mental health initiative that we just rolled out.

Rosenberg: Right, which I want to get to here momentarily, which I happen to be a fan of. Our mutual friend, mayor, Bo Dietl, was on with me about an hour ago. He's been talking about the idea of prosecuting gun arrests who are convicted felons through the federal courts. 15-year jail terms for convicted felons. This way you don't have to deal with the liberals and the Democrats who are making your life difficult here in New York. What about the federal government getting involved with some of these gun laws? That's Bo Dietl's idea. What do you think?

Mayor Adams: I think Bo is right in line with the roles we can play. Knowing that you're facing federal charges really play out well on the streets. People are really concerned when the federal government gets involved. We met with many of the federal prosecutors earlier this year, and we're going to continue to ask them to be a partner, particularly in those cases where you know individuals that are just repeated offenders. That's who we want to narrow in on. There's just a small number, Sid, small number of people who are committing a large amount of our crime in this city.

Rosenberg: That is true. A small amount that is ruining the party for everybody.

Mayor Eric Adams with me on this Tuesday morning, which I appreciate very, very much. So your friend, the former chief of police, Joe Esposito, who's a big fan of yours by the way, he sent me all these crime stats. He wanted me to know that the transit crime is down 28 percent over the last 28 days. And then these numbers came out as well. It's in today's New York Post: 33 percent decrease in shootings, 14 percent decrease in rapes, 6 percent decrease in burglary, 5.5 percent decrease in grand larceny. You've removed more than 7,000 illegal guns from the streets. Murders and shootings are down double digits from this date last year, respectively. So there seems to be a lot of stuff working. Mayor Adams, why do you think that's the case?

Mayor Adams: A combination of... And we knew from the start that we had to turn around the ocean liner of violence, and it could not have been done instantly. Number one, we had to let police officers know that we had their backs as they carry out their jobs. We were not going to allow people to denigrate those who are placing themselves in harm's…

Rosenberg: Oh, let me stop you for one second. When you talk about having the police officers' backs, I will tell you this. Criticism, especially here for the cell phone stuff... you claiming that there's five cops gathering around in the subway on their cell phones. You're about to place stickers on these cell phones so you know they're on city phones and not their own personal phones. So there are folks who think that that's kind of a slap at the cops, just so you know.

Mayor Adams: Well, yeah. What would be New York without criticism?

Rosenberg: True.

Mayor Adams: I mean we got 8 million people, but we have 35 million opinions. Think about this one moment, Sid. When I spoke — first talked about years ago using cameras for police, many people criticized it. And I knew that over 80 percent of the times when a police officer uses a camera, he is shown to have done the right thing. And now people are embracing the cameras because they realize it shows that these officers are doing the right thing and people are able to see firsthand.

So now let's look at the stickers on the phones. The public is not aware that police officers are now doing much of their jobs on cell phones that are department issued. So one of the top complaints we get is that, "Hey, why are we seeing all these officers on these phones?"

So now to show that these officers are doing their job as police officers instead of writing in memo books, they're doing that. It's a brilliant idea. I didn't think of it, but I wish I would have, to show that, listen, I'm on my phone doing my police job so we could remove the perception, because perception is reality if we like it or not. So this is not a hit at police officers. This is to show those officers that are doing their jobs. They're on their phones carrying out the police work that's needed to be done.

Rosenberg: Was that idea maybe your police commissioner, Keechant Sewell, who I actually met for the first time, Eric, on Friday night at that great dinner for John and Margo Catsimatidis at the Tunnel to Towers dinner. But again, here at least on this station, a lot of criticism directed at her that the police commissioner is often MIA. Where is she? What would you say to those folks?

Mayor Adams: Listen, man, let me tell you something. I am a huge fan of Keechant. She's just a grinder, nose down, no nonsense. We have not had, what I believe in law enforcement across the country during these times, a commissioner like her. And I'm really happy. I speak to Bill Bratton, who's just a good friend. And I think about his days when he was here. Keechant is focused. You don't need to see your police commissioner on every interview, every advertisement to think that they're doing the job.

She just put together a great transition. You got Chief Maddrey moved up to chief of department. Chief John Chell has now moved up to chief of patrol. You're just going to see a lot of the quality of life issue, a lot of the things that we saw previously just not going to be accepted in the city. And that's reflected in crime. Remember, it was the police commissioner that drove the train to see the numbers that you just talked about, and she was very clear that we were going to turn that ocean liner around.

Rosenberg: Mayor Eric Adams here on this Tuesday morning. Of course your homeless initiative is being talked about all over town. And I will tell you one of the reasons why we left New York City — you know this, we've had personal conversations — is because of the homeless, because they're scary. To be honest. I got a 14-year-old son. And whether they're violent or not, they look violent. That's the bottom line. And they do scare law abiding people. Now you come up with a pretty good plan here, but even some of your best friends, people like Jumaane Williams, critical of this plan, Mr. Mayor, saying we don't have the infrastructure for it. “Don't turn cops into doctors.” What is the long-term plan like continued care for some of these homeless people? Some of your critics saying, "Listen, congratulations Mr. Mayor, we like the fact you're trying to do something, but your plan a little too pie in the sky." Your thoughts on that?

Mayor Adams: Well, listen, to my knowledge, all great things that happened started out as pies in the skies and it compelled people to start looking upward in the right direction. If you notice, the criticism by some is that we don't believe we have enough space. We don't believe we have enough infrastructure. That's what the criticism is. Think about this for a moment. If we are stating we should leave people on the street who can't take care of their basic needs and they are in danger to themselves, and the reason we are leaving them on the street is because we don't believe we have the right infrastructure in place, that's an indictment on all of us. I can easily say, "Let's just ignore this. Let's just punt the ball somewhere else." But no, I didn't get elected as mayor to run away from hard things. I got elected to face hard things.

We have to make sure people who can't take care of their basic needs and they are in danger to themselves because of that, their mental health capacity, that they're getting the services that they need. And I need help from the federal government. I need help from the state government. There are things I can do here that we are going to do. This is not a police-led initiative. This is a mental health professional lead in this and we're already doing it. What I did last week was give clarity to what the law allows us to do. I gave clarity to it because too many of us who were doing this work didn't have that clarity. When I'm on the subway system, when I'm walking the streets, I'm speaking to those who are on the front line and they didn't have the clarity and I gave clarity to it.

Rosenberg: Well done. Now Mayor Adams, I do want to talk to you about Rikers Island. I do like the fact you want to keep it run by the city. The federal government has no right running that. But I also think it's a wasted space. There's a lot of land out there on Rikers Island. That could be a spot, for example, where maybe you put some of these homeless people. Instead of talking about shutting down Rikers Island and putting prisons in Rockaway, no thank you. Let's make use of the space on Rikers Island. How about that?

Mayor Adams: I think there's a lot of creativity that can go into that space. I think that's one of the most untapped resources in our city, Rikers Island. I think that we must have a real conversation on the prison and jail population in the city to make sure whatever we do that's going to cost billions of dollars, that is going to get the desired results that we need.

I don't think those who made this decision had a plan B in mind, and it is my obligation not to put this city in a space where we don't have a proper plan B to deal with Rikers Island. And we're going to continue to engage in real conversations on what are alternatives. And if we move forward with the current City Council mandated law, how do we do it correctly?

Rosenberg: One more, mayor, and it goes back to the crime. And again, congratulations on the newest numbers, which really, everything is down just about except for one thing, hate crimes. Now I know you went to Greece and you took part in an antisemitism conference, which I thought was terrific. Just yesterday you saw that on Staten Island, a father and his son shot by BB guns just at the supermarket doing nothing wrong. The hate crimes are skyrocketing in this city, whether it's the Asians or the Jews. I know you've talked about combating that, but on a practical level, Mayor Adams, how do we really stop it or at least limit some of these hate crimes?

Mayor Adams: Well said, Sid. And it concerns me and alarms me and I have had several conversations this morning around that and there must be a multi-pronged attack to these hate crimes that we are witnessing. We're not going to just be able to police ourselves out of this. We must stop the pipeline of hate that we're seeing. One, those who are arrested, we should have a no plea bargaining rule, meaning, if you committed a hate crime, we should not allow you to plea bargain down to harassment. You should be charged with that hate crime and get hit with the full extent of the law.

Second, we cannot downgrade and attempt to cover up when the hate crime happens. This is what I have my — the police commissioner is doing with our hate crime unit. We are going to call it as we see it and not try to ignore it. Third, we need to be creative. Think about it, you and I had dinner breaking bread together. We need to have other groups across this city and stop living in silos and learn from each other. These various groups. I have something called Breaking Bread, Building Bonds. We did it as borough president, a hundred dinners across the city, 10 people at each dinner. No two persons came from the same background and they talk to each other.

We need to have a thousand dinners like that so we can have 10,000 ambassadors of people talking with each other. Then we got to teach this in schools. Many of our children are growing up in isolated, segregated communities and that hate comes from ignorance. And we need to be forthright on every front, dealing with the pipeline of tolerance, dealing with those who are intolerant now, and make sure that we are forceful to sending out the right message when not allowing them to get away with showing hate.

Rosenberg: That is terrific. On the way out here, Camille Varlack, Sheena Wright, I guess congratulations in order to both those ladies?

Mayor Adams: Yes. We're making an announcement later today. Let me tell you, Sid, I'm a tough guy to work for.

Rosenberg: That's good though. That's good.

Mayor Adams: I am so driven. People tell you it's sun up, sun down. I am driven and I love this city and I am not going to allow this city to spiral out of control. When I pick a team member, they went through the gauntlet of, can you keep up with the pace of Eric Adams and what every day New York is. I'm a symbol of every day hard working New Yorkers that wake up in the morning, pull up the gate in front of their shop, sweeps up, cleans, work hard so their children can move forward. Anyone that's part of the leadership of this administration, they must embody the energy of the everyday New Yorker that want our city to be the great city that we know it can become and they're going to be two members of the team to push that forward.

Rosenberg: Well you know Mayor Adams that I talk to a lot of folks on the air, off the air in this city, and this is bipartisan now. It's not Republican or Democrat. This is just New Yorkers who really want to see this city fixed. And the more people I talk to... I won't blow smoke up your ass. We're past that, you and I. The more people I speak to, I swear to you, the more people that are saying, "I got to tell you, this mayor, he's doing things right and he truly cares." Listen, not even a year in, we're starting to see some progress here, some big time progress, especially with the crime stats. Congratulations and once again, thanks for coming on this morning. Keep up the good work. I'll talk to you later.

Mayor Adams: Okay. Take care.

Rosenberg: All right, pal. Take care. There he is, the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams.


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