November 29, 2016
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everyone. I want to start with a few points about Vision Zero, and then turn to our Police Commissioner and a number of our colleagues here. The bottom line is – Vision Zero has just begun. Vision Zero was originally identified as a fundamental change we could make in this city. We recognized two years ago that the reality of traffic safety in our city had to be addressed, that we had almost as many traffic-related fatalities in the year as we had homicides; and we took very aggressive action, beginning in 2014, to change that situation.
What you saw in 2014 and 2015 was a radical change. The number of traffic fatalities, particularly fatalities among pedestrians, started to shoot downward because we did things that needed to be done. We reduced the speed limit in many parts of the city. We added speed cameras around our schools. We changed traffic patterns and designs. And most importantly we added a tremendous amount more of NYPD presence and NYPD enforcement in areas such as speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians in intersections.
This approach has yielded very important results for many reasons. It has started to change the behavior of drivers. That is one of the number one things that we see. Drivers are increasingly aware that if they break the law – they put people’s lives in danger – that there will be consequences. That’s why this point right here – your choices matter – is so important. This is a message to all drivers – and I say this as someone who has spent decades driving around this city – it’s a message to all drivers that there will be consequences if you speed. There will be consequences if you fail to yield to pedestrians. There will be consequences if you drive at the wrong speed in a school zone.
We believe that Vision Zero and the enforcement efforts related to Vision Zero are changing the behavior of drivers because increasingly they understand that there will be real consequences for [inaudible]; they’re going to have to pay for the wrong behavior. And you’re going to see stepped up enforcement as we go into the holiday season – checkpoints, for example, to make sure we fight drunk driving and other reckless behavior. And we keep saying this is about protecting our children, this is about protecting seniors. We have to get a change in the behavior of drivers for the safety of all.
Now, we have had a very targeted effort in the last month. We announced, as daylight savings was coming on, that we had identified a particular challenge around the rush hour – the evening rush hour. As that rush hour occurred in a darker context because of Daylights Saving – we saw that that was a time that was really vulnerable. A lot of pedestrians were particularly vulnerable, drivers had not fully made the adjustment, and that we were going to do a lot of additional enforcement. We had a strong public education campaign, but most importantly additional enforcement to help prevent the kinds of things we had seen in past years.
Commissioner O’Neill and Chief Chan will go into the results of that effort, but I want you to know in front of that, focused enforcement had a big and positive impact. It helped us reduce the number of fatalities in this sensitive time of year when people are driving more in darker hours.
We’ve also moved personnel to where the problem is more effectively. And that’s why the announcement today about the use of precision policing with Vision Zero is so important. We’re focusing on the places where we have the greatest danger of crashes, where we have the greatest danger to pedestrians in particular. We’re focusing additional resources on those locations and at those times. And we’re making sure that there is stepped up enforcement, stepped up consequences on the kind of behaviors that put people in danger.
So, we know – we all know that here in this building, almost a-quarter-century ago, CompStat revolutionized policing in this city and was the reason we got safer. We’re now applying that same approach to keeping people safe on our streets. And it is already starting to have a very, very positive effect.
But I’ll end where I began – Vision Zero has just begun, you ain’t seen nothing yet. This is just the beginning of something that is going to go much farther. We’re going to continue to deepen enforcement for months and years to come to drive down the number of fatalities. And all the good work at the Department of Transportation – changing traffic patterns; redesigning streets; adding more islands for pedestrians to stop at so they are safe; slowing down the traffic signals so that pedestrians have more time to cross the streets – all of these will have a big impact in the years to come.
What we have seen after the first two years is real progress. There is much, much more to do. And NYPD has been leading the way. And now that the principles of precision policing are being applied systematically to Vision Zero we believe you’re going to see additional progress immediately in the months to come.
Let me just say a few words in Spanish before turning to the Commissioner.
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, we turn to Commissioner O’Neill with my great thanks for the extraordinary efforts the NYPD is taking on Vision Zero.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill: Thanks, Mr. Mayor. Thanks, everyone, thanks for being here. Today, we’re here to reinforce what we’ve long stressed about an important decision everyone has to make when they travel around the city. And now that we’re in the midst of the holiday season there’s millions of tourists here and there’s more vehicular and pedestrian traffic than usual. And those decisions that we make as we travel around the city have taken on an even greater significance.
The Mayor spoke about Daylight Saving Time – the program that we started at the end of October. Daylight Saving Time ended earlier this month. I joined the Mayor and Commissioner Trottenberg in raising awareness about the dangers that come when we turn those clocks back – the sun setting early in the day coinciding with the afternoon rush hour. It’s the dangers that face motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians in the fall and winter months.
I’m pleased to report, in these last few weeks, we’ve seen a great improvement compared to November, 2015. I’m going to give you the numbers for October 27th to November 27, 2015 as opposed to 2016. We’ve had a double digit decrease in fatal collisions. The raw number is 14 this year versus 30 last year. This is a downward trend all of us here want to see carry through next month and into the new year and beyond that.
But in order to realize that, we have to acknowledge that December is historically a perilous time of year on our streets. More hours of darkness make it more difficult to see for everyone. So, again we’re calling on all New Yorkers to take on an active role in their own safety. I just spoke – I speak about shared responsibility all the time when it comes to crime and it has to do with traffic also.
Two years ago, Mayor de Blasio signed into law a 25 mile-an-hour citywide speed limit. Every driver has to make sure they adhere to that. It saves lives. And we’ve said before, NYPD officers are out there enforcing the rules of the road especially in our most well-traveled and most collision-prone locations. We put more officers out there during that time period. If you commit a violation, you will be pulled over, and you will get a summons.
Drivers have to take extra care while turning when pedestrians are in congested crosswalks. Double-parkers blocking bike lanes will be summonsed. And don’t forget that bicyclists are expected to adhere to the same traffic rules as vehicles.
Pedestrians have to do their part also. Don’t cross in the middle of the block were lighting may not be as bright and drivers aren’t expecting to see you. Chief Tom Chan will give you some stats of what we’ve done over the last 30 day period. I think you’ll be impressed.
And regardless of your mode of transportation – car, bike, or foot – put your phones down. I was travelling southbound on West Street, I guess about a month ago, and we were travelling with the light, of course, doing the speed limit, and there was a young woman attempting to cross the street. She had her headphones in, looking at her phone. I’m pretty sure there was a newspaper in her hand too. And she stepped out into the street and somebody pulled her back. So, you have to – you know, putting that phone down might possibly save your own life.
And lastly, it should go without saying – if you’re going to drink, don’t get behind the wheel. We’re going to increase our sobriety checkpoints all across the city. If you’re going to drink, call a cab, get yourself home safely. A little pre-planning this holiday season will go a long way to keeping everybody in New York City safe.
So, I’m now going to turn it over to Commissioner Trottenberg. Polly –
Department of Transportation Commissioner, Polly Trottenberg: Thank you. Thank you, Commissioner O’Neill.
As the Mayor mentioned, a month ago we stood in this same room and we talked about the dangers of dusk and how in the evenings in the fall and winter, that represents, by far in a way, the most dangerous time of the year on our roadways. And together, our agencies, took a multi-prong approach. You’ve heard from Commissioner O’Neill about all the incredible enforcement that NYPD has been doing with a particular focus on speeding and failure to yield.
At DOT, we’ve been stepping up as well. We ran an ad campaign with ads in radio, drive time and we’ve introduced some new, compelling 15 second TV spots to amplify the enforcement message. And if you were watching political coverage or football on ESPN, you’ve probably seen some of these ads.
Since October 27th, we’ve also worked with PD and our outreach crews to hand out hundreds of thousands of Vision Zero palm cars to drivers and pedestrians reminding them, again, to make safe choices.
I also want to emphasize, this year, we finished up with a record number of street redesigns, as the Mayor mentioned, that help make our roadways safer for pedestrians to cross, give them more times, give them pedestrian islands, and a number of new bike projects including 18 miles of protected bike lanes. You’ve heard of some of them – Pulaski Bridge, Queens Boulevard, Jay Street, Amsterdam Avenue. We’ve also stepped up and put brighter LED lighting in 1,000 – what we call – high-risk intersections around the city.
And you’ve heard the statistics – for the last month, between October 27th and yesterday, New York City experienced a total of 13 fatalities. And obviously, we mourn every single one of those fatalities. Those aren’t just numbers for us. Those are our friends, our families, co-workers, our fellow New Yorkers but it’s a notable drop from where we were last year where, as Commissioner O’Neill mentioned, we had 30 fatalities. So, we’ve seen some progress. We’re very encouraged and we’re going to keep working hard at everything we do.
Commissioner O’Neill: Thanks, Polly. Tom Chan will give you some of the enforcement numbers. Chief Chan –
Chief Thomas Chan, NYPD: Thank you, Mayor de Blasio. We’d also like to thank Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero Task Force that’s been working closely with us, Commissioner O’Neill and Commissioner Trottenberg, and also our elected officials – Council’s Transportation Chair, Ydanis Rodriguez. The Dusk to Darkness safety initiative, a combination of Vision Zero – through the education, the engineering, and also the enforcement has had an effect.
Our officers have been deployed throughout the city with targeted enforcement on hazardous violations at collision-prone locations. The somewhat of a precision policing model where we’re targeting, through this Dusk To Darkness, where we have collisions between 1600 hours and 2100 hours or four o’clock in the evening until 21 which is nine o’clock in the evening – we’ve asked more officers to concentrate and also do enforcement during those hours when we feel that the pedestrian population are more vulnerable.
We’ve conducted a number of initiatives in the month of October – from October 17th through the 23rd – resulted in 3,915 speeding summonses, an increase of 114 percent during that period compared to last year. During the month of October, also, on 24th through the 30th, we conducted a cell phone and also texting initiative which was conducted citywide resulting in 2,381 cell phone summonses and 1,526 texting summonses representing an 84 percent and 179 percent increase in those particular areas.
Following in the month of November, we conducted a pedestrian safety initiative – right-of-way. We targeted that violation – right-of-way – from November the 14th through November the 20th, we issued 2,257 summonses were issued for failure to yield to the right-of-way to the pedestrians during that period. That was a 147 percent increase compared to last year. That was during that month after we announced this Dusk To Darkness initiative.
In other areas that we’ve concentrated – we targeted tinted windows. We increased that summonses enforcement by 12 percent; the right-of-way, as I mentioned before; hazard violations overall by seven percent. Other areas that we took a look at [inaudible] reinforcement, we were up 16 percent compared to last year and also for 511, which is for suspended license. We increased that by 24 percent.
In conjunction with that, we also had, as an education process, we erected 12 different VMS signs – Variable Message Signs – throughout the boroughs and in Manhattan, giving information to our motorists, educating them that one of the leading causes of traffic fatalities for our pedestrians at intersections are vehicles that are turning in particular, left-turning vehicles are probably more problematic – three times as likely to cause an injury and its more dangerous for the pedestrian because the vehicles are making turns faster.
So, the point is that we have been sharing this information. We do have another scheduled initiative in terms of pedestrian safety initiative, that’s scheduled December the 5th through the 11th. We’ll be conducting that initiative and targeting right-of-way for our pedestrians but throughout the whole city and our officers are zeroing on the third [inaudible] because when it gets darker it is much more difficult for the drivers to see the pedestrians so we want to make the drivers aware. And again, drivers beware – yield to our pedestrians who are crossing in our streets.
Commissioner O’Neill: Okay, thanks, Tom. Jess Tisch – Commissioner Tisch is going to talk about Traffic Stat 2.0. Jess –
Deputy Commissioner Jessica Tisch, NYPD: Alright. Of course, you’re all familiar with NYPD’s CompStat process which aggregates our weekly crime statistics culminating in a Thursday meeting where the police commanders gather to discuss crime strategies. Less known is the Traffic Stat process – similar concept mirroring CompStat but for collisions and Vision Zero.
So, today we are making public, on our NYPD website, the analytic engine that we, at the NYPD, use to look at to our collision data – the tool that drives our Traffic Stat. It’s designed to provide unprecedented access to NYPD collision statistics, essentially, to give the public the data and the tools that they need to view, map, and analyze NYPD collision numbers so that the residents of this city get a timely sense of where and when collisions are occurring.
So, on the screen above me is a look at Traffic Stat which works in very much the same way as the public CompStat and will be made available immediately following this press conference.
In the left panel, you see the digitized version of this Traffic Stat book – the same book that this department uses to analyze collisions at the weekly Traffic Stat meetings.
So, how does it work? Well, we can choose to view the citywide Traffic Stat numbers or we can look by borough, precinct. For purposes of this demonstration, let’s hone in on a specific patrol borough. So, let’s look at Manhattan North which represents the 19th through the 34th Precincts. So, the panel on the left side of the screen displays the Traffic Stat numbers from the week ending Sunday, November 27th – that’s this Sunday. This panel provides counts for total collisions, collisions with injuries, total number of injuries broken down by occupants, pedestrians, and bicycles, as well fatalities.
If we click, for example, on the week-to-date total collision number of 330, the system will map those 330 collisions to the exact location. You can see that in the middle panel. Now, the panels on the right side of the screen allow us to analyze or break down those 330 collisions. For example, we can look at the 330 collisions by patrol borough, by precinct, by hour, by day of the week, by collision type, and by contributing factor. This is what the Mayor is talking about with using precision policing to inform our strategies.
If we look at the day of the week, for example, we see our highest volume – this is Manhattan North last week – of 69 occurred on Wednesday. If we look by collision type, we see the majority were sideswipes. And if we look by contributing factor, we see most were caused by driver inattention or distraction.
Each number on the Traffic Stat book is clickable which means that each number can be mapped and analyzed using the various charting tools.
So, how can you access this tool? Traffic Stat will be made available at trafficstat.nypdonline.org or as a link on the NYPD’s website. It will be available on desktops as well as on your mobile devices. I encourage you to check it out as you’re leaving.
A few additional things to note – first, timing of disclosures. The website is going to be updated every Tuesday. So, essentially, the public will, for the very first time, have access to the week’s Traffic Stat numbers even before they are discussed by police executives at the weekly Friday Traffic Stat meeting.
Second, the date is subject to change as collisions are investigated. Numbers hit the Traffic Stat book as soon as the collision report is entered into the system. The number of fatalities or injuries, for example, are subject to change, and those changes reflected in subsequent weeks’ Traffic Stat numbers just as you’re used to with the CompStat books.
Third, this tool is a close cousin of the unprecedented CompStat tool that the NYPD has been providing to the public since February of this year. As far as we’ve been able to research, no other police department in the world provides the public an analytic engine like this one for collision mapping and review.
We are committed to continuing to enhance this tool over the coming months and years, in fact, this website is powered by the very same technology that the NYPD itself uses to analyze and report on collision data as part of the Traffic Stat process.
Commissioner O’Neill: Thanks, Jess. Now, I’d like to introduce Ydanis Rodriguez. He’s a Council member – a City Council member. He’s the Chair of the Committee on Transportation. Ydanis –
Commissioner O’Neill: Thank you, Ydanis. We’ll take some questions on this topic now.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you mentioned earlier about stepped up enforcement during the holiday period – you mentioned checkpoints. Can you go into a little more detail on the checkpoints? What will officers be looking for and where exactly will they be?
Mayor: I’ll turn to the Commissioner and Chief Chan. I just want to say I am a strong believer in checkpoints. I think we’ve lost so many innocent people to drunk driving and checkpoints send a powerful message that we will not tolerate drunk driving and that there will be consequences. And as the Commissioner said, there are so many things people can do rather than get behind the wheel when they are drunk. So, we’re going to make very, very clear to people that there will be consequences and checkpoints are one of the strongest most visible ways to do that.
Commissioner O’Neill: We’ll increase our number of sobriety checkpoints. We have many different units that do this. We have the Strategic Response Group – use to be the taskforces. We have citywide traffic and we also have at the precinct level. I’m not going to tell you where we are going to have the checkpoints.
Question: Commissioner, we just did a story about several hundred thousand people evading the red light and the speeding cameras by putting plastic on their license plates. Are you aware of this, obviously? And what is being done to prevent that in the future?
Commissioner O’Neill: I’m aware of it. I was aware of it before the story In the Daily News this morning. There are a couple of things in the City of New York that really bother me and this is one of them. So, in the last two years it will be the end of December, we’ve written 42,000 summonses for this infraction and we’ll continue our enforcement.
Mayor: Let me just add one thing to the point – if people do that we are going to catch them and we are going to penalize them. I want that to be very, very clear. This is another area where we’re going to deepen enforcement and there will be more consequences. So, if someone has one of those covers I would advise them to get them off real quick because the NYPD is coming.
Question: Do cops check for that at checkpoints – like are they told to do that?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yes they are and when vehicles are moving and we’re going to make sure that we’re not part of that offender list also. We check within all the precincts and all our different units to make sure none of our official cars have them and none of our private vehicles have them. And if they do, they will be facing disciplinary action.
Question: Mr. Mayor, the number of traffic deaths is falling, but it is falling slowly [inaudible]?
Mayor: We’ve all understood that Vision Zero was a radical goal and for a good reason. We had to change behavior fundamentally; we had to fix the things we could fix. And I think one of the things that became clear as we started down this road was so much of the danger was addressable. And there were so many tools we had that weren’t being used. We didn’t have enough cameras around schools. We had a speed limit that was too high in many palaces. We didn’t have enough NYPD enforcement. We didn’t have the right traffic designs. So, I think the power of the Vision Zero idea is it says fix all the things you can. And I’ll borrow a famous phrase, physician heal thyself, you know, let’s do all the things we can do to push that number down. The initial results are amazing. What has happened in just over two years is unbelievable numerically? And again, you’ve seen what this latest initiative was able to achieve in the last month. So, I think it is right to set a very high goal. And as I said, we’ve only just gotten started. There is going to be a lot more where that came from.
Question: Mr. Mayor, the Commissioner just gave an example of a distracted pedestrian crossing the street. Are there any kinds of educational campaigns aimed at pedestrians or for bicyclists who are – you know – going the wrong way on bike lanes or not adhering to traffic signs or traffic lights?
Mayor: Absolutely. The bottom line here, first and foremost, cars are the challenge – vehicles are the number one challenge because of their size and their speed make them the single greatest danger, but bicyclists have to get the message. They need to follow traffic laws too and we have had targeted enforcement of bicyclists and we will continue to deepen that. This is, again, to hit on all cylinders, if you will, is going to be a constant deepening of enforcement. And bicyclists who violate traffic laws do a disservice to all other bicyclists and they certainly can endanger people. So, we will ticket them as well.
Deputy Commissioner Tisch: The Traffic Stat data is really designed just to give the public the same information that the NYPD has about where collisions are occurring; what type of collisions are occurring; what hours of the day they are occurring at; what types of collisions. It’s about transparency. It follows an initiative that we had with our CompStat process. We made all of the CompStat data available and digestible for the public, so that they can use it in ways that benefit them. And so, this was really about transparency and providing as much data as we can to the public on our collision reports.
Mayor: And I think, look, obviously anytime that we help the public to see where there are particular problems – you know – we make ourselves accountable in the process. This is why this precision policing approach is so important. Traffic Stat is about identifying times and places where we have a persistent problem and going at them. We want the public to see that in real time. We want the public to hold us accountable for the changes we have to make.
Question: It’s a question for Chief Chan. What is the correlation or relationship between the places that targeted enforcement is happening and where we are seeing crashes not happening this year?
Chief Chan: Locations that the individual precincts are targeting are priority intersections where they’ve had collisions and also, priority [inaudible] roadways where they had collisions. So, again, they are looking at the data and individual precincts are actually reviewing their data on a weekly basis; where they find where the collisions are occurring that there is a cluster. Now, certainly if they are going to take a look at it [inaudible] shopping occur they will possibly do more enforcement because, again we have shoppers descending on a specific area to do shopping – a commercial district and things of that nature. But this s certainly based on data, on information where the collisions have occurred the last 28 days. They will identify and then adjust their program in terms of enforcement and education. And we’re working with our [inaudible] partner.
Commissioner Trottenberg: David, I just want to add one thing to that. And we are going to get you the numbers. We were just looking at the data this morning; we are seeing – as we laid out with PD – our Vision Zero priority corridors and intersections where we’ve focused resources enforcement, resources engineering, education we’ve actually seen some pretty dramatic declines in those corridors visa vie the non [inaudible], but we’re just putting those numbers together. I’m going to get them to you today.
Mayor: And the other point – just to make the CompStat parallel again – is just like CompStat came up with a revolutionary idea of focusing on where crime was happening, when it was happening, what the specific patterns were so that you could put police in those areas in a targeted strategic manner. That is what Traffic Stats is allowing to do; when we see problem locations and reoccurring problems that is where you’re going to see a lot more enforcement.
Question: The numbers comparing October to November, this year and October, November last year are very impressive. Transportation Alternatives is saying that the number from January through November, this year versus January through November last year aren’t as encouraging. Can you respond to that? And tell me about how this Traffic Stat might be some sort of response to that.
Commissioner O’Neill: If you look at our year-to-date numbers at one point we were actually up for fatalities. We are down now, 209 last year to 204 last year. So, the reduction is smaller than the reeducation – much smaller than the reeducation in that one month period, but this is what we do. We take a look at the data available and we deploy our resources accordingly. And this is why we are getting such a significant decrease in fatalities for that one month period. And the second part of your question?
Question: Traffic Stat, how does that figure into this whole [inaudible]?
Commissioner O’Neill: What Traffic Stat is something we have been doing internally for almost 20 years now. That is a meeting that Chief Chan chairs. They do it – I think they do it every week, Tom. They bring in the precincts that re up in collisions and the executive officers have to explain what their strategy is to decrease the number of collisions and the injuries and fatalities. That has been going on for a long time.
Question: Can you share with us some of the specific areas where there have been [inaudible] collisions?
Commissioner O’Neill: Yes, Tom do you want to talk about some of the – or Polly – the problematic intersections or roadways.
Chief Chan: Sure. What happened is that every borough has a list of identifying priority intersections and [inaudible] roadways. For example, I’ll use Atlantic Avenue as a high volume, particular roadway. They do have a high number of collisions and things of that nature. But every precinct and every borough has identified priority intersections and locations so that the precincts know exactly where to go to and they – again, I mentioned on a weekly basis we look at our data and then we adjust our enforcement, our personnel. So, in other words today they may be working at 34th Street and 6th Avenue, tomorrow they are going to shift up to 42nd Street or closer to Rockefeller Center where the tree lighting is and things of that nature. So, our game is constantly changing, but you’re going to see our officers out there doing enforcement.
Commissioner Trottenberg: I’m sorry – just to add a little bit more, you know, in addition to the enforcement efforts, I just want to emphasize the engineering where we put together our Vision Zero pedestrian safety action plan for each borough where we mapped out the corridors and the intersections where we saw the highest crash rates and fatalities rates. You can see that online, and we’ve been targeting our reengineering work there – Queens Boulevard is a big example. We’re just now putting in work around the Manhattan Bridge. We’re going to be putting in a bike lane on Delancey Street, so areas where we see high rates of fatalities and injuries.
So you can go map online where those rates are and see – we, in addition to what PD is announcing today, we have actually another interactive website called Vision Zero View where you can go online and see mapped out all the priority corridors and all the work we’ve done – redesigning projects, traffic singles, audible pedestrian signals, leading – all the work that our agencies have done together around those corridors.
Unknown: One or two more on this topic.
Question: [Inaudible] enforcement in cars parked in bike lanes also be ramped up and if so will [inaudible] NYPD also sort of turn a lens on itself [inaudible] flagrant offenders of double parked cars [inaudible].
Chief Chan: What happened is that – when we took a look at the bike lane enforcement this year, we’ve issued close to 60,000 parking summonses in that particular realm in terms of vehicles that are blocking the bike lane and I anticipate that we are going to continue to do so, but again we certainly discourage our officers from blocking those lanes and committing violations and causing a problem for our bicyclists.
Question: So, Mayor Giuliani famously led a crackdown on jay-walking admitting that he sometimes jay-walked himself. Is jay-walking a problem – mid-block kind of accidents are they minimal or is this a big issue in New York City and is there any plan to have a de Blasio crackdown of jay walking?
Mayor: Let me start and then turn to the experts. I think the central point is the greatest danger comes from vehicles and that’s where we need to put our energy. That’s where we need to put our focus. We have so much more that we need to do to stop reckless and illegal behavior by drivers. That’s the core of this. I think, of course, pedestrians have to be responsible too, and the example the Commissioner gave – something we have to figure out a better way to address – I see it constantly. People looking at a device or you know with their ear phones in and absolutely oblivious and literally walking into the middle of traffic against the light. We’ve got to figure out a way to go at that more effectively. But you know going at the root cause is the important point here. The root cause is reckless and illegal behavior by vehicles.
Commissioner Trottenberg: Can I just add to that Rich? One thing the Mayor mentioned – why we have such a big focus on speed. I mean, just, as a given the driving environment in New York City is unpredictable for a whole bunch of reasons and that’s why our particular focus on 25 miles an hour – we went back and strengthen nearly 100 school camera locations because in the end if you’re driving at a safe speed, whatever is happening on the roadways – because surprising things can happen – you’re much less likely to have a collision or if you have a collision and you’re going at a slower speed it’s much less likely to end in fatality or serious injury.
Commissioner O’Neill: I don’t know what methodology was employed for that, but I do know that we stand by our numbers. This is how we deploy people, and this is how we keep people safe. And obviously if you look at the crime numbers this year we have 17 less homicides, 106 less shootings, and I think over 3,600 less index crimes so the reduction in crime is real. Dermot, do you want to add to that?
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Dermot Shea: I would just say that we are very confident in the review process. We have a rigorous review process, similar to the traffic related incidents that we just discussed. We rely on data. We rely on quality data. So there isn’t a day that goes by that as the information is coming in, it’s being processes with [inaudible] accordingly and as I said there’s several levels of review process. These numbers are real. These lives are real. We’re very proud of the work that we’ve done, and we don’t operate in a vacuum. I think if you look across we make fewer arrests you can confer with any of the district attorneys and they’re processing less arrests. We have fewer shooting victims. The hospitals have fewer shooting victims. We have seen continuing trending in New York City at a level – at some rates that we haven’t seen before of reduced crime, all-time lows in stolen vehicles, burglaries, robberies, shooting incidents. This is real.
Question: Mr. Mayor regarding the arrest yesterday of an ADA who was forging wire taps, will you be encouraging the district attorney, the Brooklyn District Attorney, to look into her cases to see if there’s any malfeasance or fraud with that regard?
Mayor: Not familiar with the details, but obviously if there’s any crime that’s been committed I don’t have to encourage. I assume the District Attorney will follow up on that aggressively.
Question: Commissioner, given the advance in technology at the NYPD when will the public finally be able to submit FOIL requests via email instead of snail mail and is that at all a priority for you?
Commissioner O’Neill: Transparency is a priority for me. I’d have to discuss that with [inaudible], and I’d get back to you.
Question: [Inaudible] so hard to do? That’s a really old fashioned way of submitting [inaudible] –
Commissioner O’Neill: I understand that. This is an issue. I’ve been here for two months now [inaudible] take up and make sure we resolve that with [inaudible].
Question: Commissioner and Mr. Mayor, I’d like to hear both of you on this if you don’t mind. How would you assess morale in the department right now? Commissioner you’re about two months into being commissioner. Commissioner Bratton had said at various times he felt morale was pretty low. How would you asses it right now and you as well Mr. Mayor?
Mayor: You want to go first?
Commissioner O’Neill: You know what, I’ve come up through the ranks, been a cop since 1983. There are ebbs and flows with moral depending on what goes on around the city and what the sense of appreciation that the police feel from the residents of the city. I think we’re in a good place now. It can always be improved, but we look constantly to make things better for our policy officers as you – we’ve updated the fleet. If you take a look at what we’re doing with the station houses, we’ve done that also. We’ve given everybody a smart phone. There’s all sorts of things we’re doing for police officers. And the number one thing that I do is that I respect that the work that they do, and they know that because I’ve come up through the ranks. So, I think that having a police commissioner that’s come up through the ranks I think that’s appreciated by the vast majority of the members of the New York City Police Department who continue to do an outstanding job every day.
Mayor: I think there’s a lot of appreciation out there for our police officers, and I think it is coming out more and more, for example, when we see the extraordinary efforts that our officers made on Thanksgiving Day as an example or in the aftermath of some of the threats that we’ve seen around the world. There’s tremendous appreciation for how the NYPD protects people from any terror threat. I hear that from the public all the time and I hear it from the officers that I talk to that they get those thank-yous and they appreciate those thank-yous.
I think neighborhood policing is making a big difference. Again, I talked to the NCOs and I talked to neighborhood residents who work with them. And there’s a lot of mutual respect and a lot of appreciation and it’s stated quite frequently. I know our officers appreciate that. And I agree that having a leader who came up through the ranks means a lot to our officers. I’ve also heard that from many officers that they really appreciate that their leader experienced everything that they experience, and they know that Commissioner O’Neill has their back.
Question: All of that might be true, but the ongoing contract issues around pay demoralize officers who can’t provide for their families etcetera without increases in pay. Where does that factor in?
Mayor: We have again – we have one of the most generous compensation packages anywhere in the country when you include everything including very, very important pension and other benefits that we provide on a very high level. We’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. Every other police union is under contract now. Every other uniform service union is under contract. They did that because they believed they were getting a good deal for their members, and their members ratified those contracts. So the door is always open to the PBA to work with us on that same set of principles, but I think you know our police officers looks at everything around them and are very aware of the fact that all the other police unions and all the other uniform service unions have come to an agreement with the city.
Question: Since the press conference that you held a couple of weeks ago now about security at Trump Tower have you had any discussions with the Obama administration or incoming administration about that price tag or the overtime which is looking like it’s going to be pretty hefty –
Mayor: Yes, look, we’re going to work very, very hard to get very substantial level of reimbursement, and I feel good about our chances based on the history of reimbursement and that was in situations that were much less substantial than this one. I had a conversation, as I mentioned a few days back, with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. I’m going to be doing follow up conversations with other administration figures. We’re putting in the paper work now for the first tranche of reimbursement. Also, I will be speaking with people on the Trump team. This is going to take place over the next few weeks. I think in the course of December we’ll be able to give you a much better picture of how this is playing out.
Question: Sense of how much you are currently asking for that tranche, that dollar amount?
Mayor: No, it’s not time to offer those figures yet. We’re still working on those.
Question: Can we have the breakdown of how you are [inaudible] –
Commissioner O’Neill: I’m sorry, could you repeat that? I didn’t hear it.
Question: [inaudible] rundown of the [inaudible] –
Mayor: You’ve stumped us all – [inaudible].
Question: Trump Tower follow up – I’ve been wondering if there’s been any discussion or plans for parades that go down 5th Avenue and how that would play out going forward? [Inaudible]
Commissioner O’Neill: We still have yet to resolve our long term plan. We have that short term plan in place until the President-elect is inaugurated. So we’re going to have to – that’s going to be a part of the long term plan.
Commissioner O’Neill: These parades have been around – I think St. Pat’s for over a century.
Mayor: Thank you. We’ll do other topics in just a second.
All right. Here we go. Other topics? Other topics? Anything here? Yes, Jen?
Question: Mayor de Blasio, we have a story today in the Daily News about Governor David Paterson saying that [inaudible] primary if someone ran against you, and that there was no one with courage that was doing that? I just wanted to see what you thought of that – that Paterson seemed to be sort of encouraging someone to run against you in a primary?
Mayor: Don’t pay any attention to it to tell you the truth.
Question: Mr. Mayor, would you – obviously the emails that a couple news organizations had sought were released on Wednesday, almost a week ago. We’re here today. So, when you speak with Jonathan Rosen, for example, or other agents of the city, do you discuss – do you ask them ahead of time if their relationship with clients may affect their judgment, the advice they give you at City Hall?
Mayor: You know, those conversations are rare to begin with, and I’m absolutely certain that there’s no representation of clients involved in those discussions. And these are folks who I have known for years and years who have been providing me advice that I long ago came to the conclusion was objective, thoughtful advice. But it’s just advice. I listen to advice from many quarters, and I make the decisions. Yeah?
Question: Comment on whether the Grammy Awards will be coming back to New York City?
Mayor: It’s nothing – nothing formal yet. We are hopeful. There’s a process underway. We would love to get the Grammys back in New York City. I think it would great for New York City, and I think they belong here. But there’s more work to done before it’s final. But we are – we are certainly rolling out the welcome mat in every way we can. Marcia?
Question: Going back to the emails, which show that at times, BerlinRosen was writing press releases or suggesting quotes that some of your supporters could give on various issues. I wonder how you could allow them to create, in a sense, a shadow government, and that you allow them to effectively run parts of the City when they’re not on the City payroll?
Mayor: Marcia, it’s not even close to that. And I think those – that phrase is honestly ridiculous. These are individuals who advise me for years and years. They’re offering ideas. There’s nothing about that that is out of the ordinary. Everyone who holds high office has advisors, and they offer advice. And again, I make the decisions.
Question: Would suggesting quotes and saying that you’re –
Mayor: Suggesting quotes is something –
Question: [Inaudible] writing press releases –
Mayor: Marcia, I’m glad you find it so interesting. It’s absolutely normal that outside advisors offer ideas on how to talk about things.
Mayor: Normal thing for people to offer ideas. Go ahead, [inaudible].
Question: We’re here for a 10:30 press conference presumably because you want as many people as possible in this city to know about Vision Zero. But in the last several weeks, there have been several instances where the City released information or news at a time that made it less likely for people to receive that information. I’m just going to run through a few examples. The day before Thanksgiving, late in the day, you released hundreds of agents of the city emails. A week earlier, you withheld the release of the November financial plan until 5:30 p.m., when it was less likely to make the newscast, or get space in the next day’s newspapers. And then the night before the presidential election, City Hall put out the word that the City had spent millions on defense against various investigation, and that the Health + Hospitals chief was leaving. Given all of that, if you believe an informed public is essential to democracy, how do you justify these tactics that your [inaudible] of burying the news?
Mayor: Each one is different. There were different circumstances for each one. And you’re asking the question now because they were all made public, and they’re all part of the public discussion. I think it’s absolutely normal.
Mayor: Again, I don’t – I’m sorry – I just don’t see the import in it that you see. Each one’s individual. And we’re happy to discuss them at any point. Go ahead?
Question: There’s an email from you to some of your staff and Jonathan Rosen in March 2014 about Jason Collins, where you say the Nets are back in Brooklyn, do we want to do anything to honor him? [Inaudible] Rosen, since he represents Barclays Center. And then Rosen goes on to make advice about how to do this. How is that not a conflict? He’s representing [inaudible] –
Mayor: It’s not a conflict at all because look, if – if he had nothing to do with the Barclays Center, he I think would have given the exact same advice because what people were responding to was the extraordinary, historic moment of Jason Collins’s joining the team and all he stood for as a civil rights figure. And that’s what that was about.
Question: Is that supposed to be sufficient for the public – that you don’t think he would have given any different advice whether or not [inaudible] –
Mayor: I’m absolutely convinced that the highest standards were adhered to. Everything we did – I said it last night, I’ll say it again. Everything we did, we did with legal clearance for the way to approach things – in the case of Campaign for One New York, with pre-clearance from the Conflict of Interest Board. I am convinced everything was done appropriately.
Question: Mr. Mayor, I’m wondering if you can recall how many, if any, [inaudible] by the conversations reviewed have a general [inaudible]. And what the content of those were [inaudible]?
Mayor: Very few. I don’t – I’m not going to try and do it on the spot. But I can certainly say very few.
Mayor: I – just again, I’m saying very few because I can’t remember right now anything in particular, so I’d like to give you a factual answer. I can’t do that off the top. Jen?
Question: [Inaudible] Paterson thing. Do you think that Governor Cuomo has anything to do that? If, you know, having Paterson encourage people to [inaudible] –
Mayor: I don’t bother to speculate in that. Yeah?
Question: Mr. Mayor, CUNY has said that the City’s contribution to senior colleges’ operating budget has been stagnant for decades, and they want the City to pay 186 percent more next year. This could be seen as a more scaled-back version of the Governor’s cost shift that didn’t happen last year. Do you think it’s appropriate to pay that much more?
Mayor: No. Cost shift is the right phrase. And the Governor, in the dead of night, attempted a cost shift of CUNY expenses from the State onto the City. There was a massive negative reaction in this city after he announced that in his last budget. It would have fundamentally undermined the opportunities we try and afford our young people at CUNY. We’re not going to stand for it, whether it’s through the front door or the back door, we’re not going to stand for. We already, in terms of our contributions to the community colleges, pay a much higher percentage than other jurisdictions in the state do. And, I’ve said many times – this City, in the event of an economic downturn or anything else that reduces our revenue, we’re going to be on our own. The State of New York is not going to have our back. So, we are going to protect our prerogatives, and the State needs to continue to pay its share of CUNY.
Question: [Inaudible] So are you implying that the Governor, who effectively controls the CUNY Board, might be behind this budget request?
Mayor: I am simply saying that whether it is done as part of a budget speech or any other manner, we’re not going to accept the notion of the City of New York paying more than what we’re paying for CUNY.
Question: Two more questions, Mr. Mayor. You said a few weeks ago that you basically stopped talking to James Capalino and other lobbyists. Have you taken any other such action with relation to Jonathan Rosen or any of the other “agents of the city” in recent weeks or months since this became, you know, part of the public –
Mayor: Each situation is individual. I think it’s fair to say that it’s pretty rare I’m talking to people, but each situation is individual.
Question: The emails show that it’s not rare that you’re talking to Jonathan Rosen and –
Mayor: The emails go back a ways.
Question: Right, so that’s my question – is more recently –
Mayor: I’m saying – I think it’s pretty rare that I’m talking to those individuals, but again, I think each case is individual.
Question: Mr. Mayor, do you think it’s a conflict of interest – excuse me – when Jonathan Rosen sends emails to City Hall with people’s resume, requesting jobs, or he’s requesting as he did on at least a couple of occasions for First Lady Chirlane McCray to speak at events that are held by his clients?
Mayor: No. No. It’s again – long-term advisor, offering ideas. I think what you guys have to recognize is we’re very, very comfortable saying no to anyone. And we have no problem with putting an idea on the table, no problem with recommending someone or offering an event. We’ll make a decision based on what we think is right.
Question: In light of the heavy equipment or crane-like crash in Queens last week –
Question: Is there any plan by the City to scale [inaudible] monitoring construction sites, particularly non- – including non-union construction sites?
Mayor: We have been tightening up in many ways the approach to construction sites, and putting in much stronger requirements in terms of what supervision has to be present. And we’re doing more to check those sites. We’re obviously adding a lot of personnel to the Department of Buildings in the last budget. And that’s now starting to be felt around the city. I don’t have the final report on that accident. I don’t know whether it was human error, or a mechanical problem, or what it was. But I think this is an area of continued concern. I think the answer is to continue to tighten up the laws and the rules, and to have as much oversight as necessary, and we’re continuing to perfect that.
Question: The City – the Conflict of Interest Board requires any City employee who has a role in making or crafting policy to file a financial disclosure form with the City listing their business interests, any conflict of interest, their assets – lots of, you know, sort of invasive information. Why is it appropriate that someone like Jonathan Rosen, who does have an input in City policy, is not required to disclose any of that kind of similar information, although he’s arguably a policymaker in the same sense?
Mayor: Again, everything that we’ve done was with guidance either from the Counsel’s Office of the Mayor’s Office; or in the case of Campaign for One New York – which again was about affordable housing, was about pre-K – with guidance from the Conflict of Interest Board. So, it’s really up to the legal experts to determine how anything like that should be handled.
Question: When was the last time you spoke with Hillary Clinton? And what’s your take on these recount efforts in some of the swing states?
Mayor: Couple days after the election was the last time I spoke to her, and I think the recount efforts are well intended. Obviously, we have a profound problem. We’ve never seen such a disconnect between the popular vote and the Electoral College vote in the history of this entire country. This morning, I checked the numbers again and Hillary Clinton is up by 2.3 million votes. This is absolutely unprecedented and I think it creates a huge question for our democracy. How is the President-elect going to proceed knowing that he had 2.3 million more people vote for his opponent. So, the recount effort is well intentioned. I have not seen any evidence that it’s going to change the outcome but I think it will serve to remind people that something unprecedented happened here and I hope it will serve as a reminder to the President-elect and his administration that they have to take a balanced approach. They have to respect that there was a majority that actually voted the other way.
Unknown: Two more questions.
Question: Mr. Mayor, just to follow up on that. Would you like to see the Electoral College done away with?
Question: [Inaudible] chatter about electors voting against how their supposed based on the vote of their, you know [inaudible] exercise their moral judgement to vote against the President-elect?
Mayor: I think this is a thorny question, obviously, because the election proceeded with the rules we have. I think there was a fair, moral argument that because over two million people voted the other way that this outcome is problematic. But the rules are the rules. That’s my world view. And I think the much more important thing, to the previous, is that now anyone who believes the Electoral College has created an imbalance in our country needs to get to work either on abolishing it or creating rules at the state level that say that the winner of popular vote, by law, deserves that state’s electoral votes. As you know, that is the case in some states. So, that’s the way we have to go.
I think there was, bluntly, a huge missed opportunity in the year 2000 which pales by comparison to this situation. We saw, for the first time in any of our lifetimes, the popular vote go the opposite way of the Electoral College vote in that case by about a half-a-million votes. That was the time to really start a focused effort to either abolish the Electoral College or modify the approach. I, for one, am going to be very focused on this. I hope people are all over the country because it’s inconceivable to me that the will of, you know, 2.3 million people has been ignored in this result. It just doesn’t make sense and it’s supposed to be in our Constitution – one person, one vote. That’s not what happened here.
Unknown: Last question.
Question: Can you clarify what you mean – you’ve said now several times that the Campaign for One New York promoted both Universal Pre-Kindergarten and affordable housing. Pre-kindergarten we know about. Affordable housing – the Campaign for One New York’s own spokespeople have said repeatedly that it did not do anything on the issue of affordable housing instead that Campaign for One New York focused all of its efforts in its second year on setting up the Progressive Agenda Committee. What do you mean when you say that it worked to –
Mayor: I think if you go back and look at the history, there was a focused effort on affordable housing too with other partners. It’s as simple as that.
Question: But Mr. Mayor, the group didn’t register to lobby with JCOPE –
Mayor: It’s not about lobbying. It’s about the same effort to create a public energy around the issue. And that, I think, is well documented.
Okay, one more there before we go.
Question: Can you tell us where you are with making appointments in your Domestic Violence Task Force?
Mayor: Say it again, I’m sorry.
Question: Where are you with making appointments to your Domestic Violence Task Force?
Mayor: We are in the process of deepening our whole initiative around domestic violence. One of the things that I’m very proud of is the way the NYPD has a very focused follow up effort in each case of domestic violence and that – there’s going to be even more energy and resources put into that.
The idea of the task force is to help us figure bigger solutions beyond the NYPD as well. So, we can get you an update on where we are with the naming of folks.