New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said his city’s criminal justice system is collapsing.
Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Shea said his department is not able to adequately keep people safe without having an option to detain criminals.
“We cannot keep people safe without keeping bad, dangerous, people off the streets,” Shea said this week per the Washington Examiner. “You have a criminal justice system that’s imploding. That’s the kindest way to put it.”
Lawmakers have forced his hand to release criminals in fear of spreading the coronavirus through the prison system. Some judges and juries have also not been able to convene amid lockdown restrictions imposed by the governor.
The Washington Examiner adds:
Shea’s remarks come as New York City’s homicide rate hit a five-year high. The number of people shot in the city has also increased by 42% from last year, according to NBC New York. Shea pointed to a number of reasons why he believes the system is breaking down, including shutdowns in the judicial system over COVID-19, bail reform laws, lack of social safety nets for released prisoners, and case deferments.
The commissioner said that there must be some way for arraignments and grand jury proceedings to continue, urging courts to “do it virtually, do something.” Shea also called supervised release a “fallacy” and said it isn’t possible to monitor everyone released from prison.
Shea said his community was suffering as they are not able to keep track of released prisoners.
“Releasing people to homeless shelters is a recipe for disaster,” he said. “There is no safety net. Often, we don’t even have a clue where they are.”
“The people who are suffering are the people in New York City,” Shea added. “We must do it in a manner that builds trust between the officers and the community they serve.”
In the weeks since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the NYPD disbanded its anti-crime unit.
Shea described the decision as “21st-century policing” and reassigned the officers to other positions.