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Justice Department calls New York City ‘soft on crime’

NEW YORK — New York City’s mayor says the Justice Department’s claims about its violence are “out of touch with reality.”

The department sent the city a letter warning it to comply with federal immigration enforcement of risk losing grant money. It said in a news release that New York City’s gang murders are “the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance.”

In a news conference Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio called the statement “an insult” and “denigrating” to the NYPD. The mayor’s spokesman Seth Stein called the DOJ’s allegation “alternative facts.”

The mayor said the Trump administration’s grandstanding is out of touch with reality. He said the city is safe, thanks to policies that encourage cooperation between police and immigrant communities.

Through April 16 the city had seen 74 killings in 2017, according to the police department, which would put it on pace to have the fewest number of murders since it began keeping accurate records on homicides.

“The Justice Department’s release this afternoon stating that New York City is somehow ‘soft on crime’ and continues to see ‘gang murder after gang murder,’ demonstrates a willful disregard for the facts,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said in a statement.

At a news conference, O’Neill said his “blood began to boil” when he read the feds’ statement criticizing his department.

The Department of Justice sent similar letters to officials in California, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, all places the Justice Department’s inspector general has identified as limiting the information local law enforcement can provide to federal immigration authorities about those in their custody.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned that the administration will punish communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally.