NEW YORK — NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea does not seem to be a fan of the Manhattan district attorney’s changes to bail rules, aiming to alleviate overcrowding at Rikers Island.
A day after DA Cyrus Vance sent the new directives to assistant district attorneys, Shea told the PIX11 Morning News the move was “one more obstacle for New Yorkers.”
While Shea said he has a lot of respect for Vance, and all city DA’s, “It’s not a debate about Rikers, to me. It’s really a debate about incarceration,” he said.
“Does it make our job any easier? Of course not. Does it put people on the streets that are going to victimize New Yorkers? Of course it does,” said Shea.
The commissioner said he doesn’t believe it should be so complicated to house inmates who are awaiting trial.
Shea also said it makes the NYPD’s job of tracking all those arrested harder.
The police commissioner also confirmed the NYPD would be moving “less than 100…more than 50” officers to help with processing and intake at Rikers. He said those cops would be coming from Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan.
“Does it have a ripple effect? Of course it does…Wherever you take an office from, eventually ripples down to the street,” Shea said.
According to Shea, the “real crisis” in the city right now is not on Rikers Island, but the number of teenagers being shot and killed in the streets.
“Yesterday, in the Bronx and in Bed-Stuy, 16-year-old kids, gunned down and killed,” Shea said.
In just the past three days, at least six teens have been wounded in gunfire across the city, three of whom died.
“I wish we had half as many press conferences about that, than…photo ops at Rikers Island,” the commissioner said, possibly referencing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Monday tour of the troubled jail complex.
Shea said he believes the ongoing issue of gun violence among young people in New York City is directly related to recent laws on bail and prison reform.
“The 16-year-old that was killed in the Bronx yesterday, has a rap sheet as long as my arm,” Shea said. “We are not helping these kids by putting them back on the street,” he added.
The commissioner argued that putting young criminals back on the streets is encouraging others to carry guns out of a feeling of self defense and protection.
“Rikers is important, but it should not be the focus of what we’re talking about,” Shea said.
Another safety issue the commissioner touched upon was the potential shortage of school safety officers with the impending citywide vaccine mandate for city workers.
“We’ll have to be fluid and adjust to the conditions, and move resources around,” Shea said when asked about possible gaps in coverage for those important roles.
Shea said as of Thursday morning, 79% of school safety officers have gotten at least one COVID vaccine shot, and about 66% of the NYPD as a whole.