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NEW YORK — At a New York City Democratic mayoral debate Thursday night, top progressive contender Maya Wiley drew criticism when she wouldn’t unequivocally say she wouldn’t take guns away from NYPD officers.

But Friday, Wiley’s campaign noted that moderator Marcia Kramer’s question was posed around a plan by New York Attorney General Letitia James to limit use of force and firing their weapons.

“Some might ask why not go all the way and take away the guns altogether,” Kramer said, before asking if Wiley would do just that.

“I am not prepared to make that decision in a debate,” she said. “I am going to have a civilian commissioner and a civilian commission that is gonna hold the police accountable and make sure we’re safe from crime but also from police violence.”

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Other candidates on stage said they would not consider taking away guns from officers, but critics of the question note that Wiley’s plans for defunding the NYPD don’t include disarming officers.

Still, that didn’t stop candidates from using the moment to go after Wiley.

“[Maya Wiley] wants to take guns away from police but is fine letting NYPD taser people who are already handcuffed. We can’t return to Giuliani-era policing tactics nor nonsensical approaches rooted in politics. My plan offers a departure from the status quo,” Ray McGuire said in a tweet.

Wiley’s camp attempted to set the record straight Thursday.

“It’s a ridiculous question; no one is even discussing taking guns away from cops – clearly Maya wouldn’t,” said a spokesperson for her campaign.

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Wiley released her own statement, taking it a step further.

“No one is seriously talking about taking guns away from cops. Of course I don’t support that,” Wiley said in a statement, before accusing candidate Eric Adams of lying about her positions. “Sometimes armed police are the solution, but sometimes problems actually make worse when we bring in a cop who isn’t trained for the situation rather than a mental health specialist who can actually keep everyone safe. Not to mention serious investments in schools and afterschool programs, jobs and job training.”

Adams called Wiley’s Thursday comments “alarming” at a campaign event Friday.

Crime and policing has become a top-tier issue in New York City, as gun violence has risen year-over-year in 2021, and police accountability and use of force remains a major sticking point following the death of George Floyd and the unrest that followed in the spring and summer of 2020.

Early voting for the New York City primaries begins on Saturday.

PIX11 hosted a forum with the leading Democratic contenders and a live debate with the leading Republican candidates.

Thursday’s debate was sponsored by 1010 WINS, WCBS 880, CBS2, CBSN New York and Common Cause New York, and moderated by Kramer and Maurice DuBois.

Visit to find a polling site near you for early voting or Election Day voting. 

For more information on ranked choice voting, the upcoming primary elections and the candidates on the ballot, visit

Ayana Harry contributed.