(Video: Fox News)
New Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg expressed surprise at the push-back from law enforcement and other city officials regarding his January 3 memo outlining the new guidelines he is instituting in the DA’s office in his borough, saying, “This is going to make us safer. It’s intuitive. It’s common sense.”
Former federal prosecutor Trey Gowdy begs to differ, however, calling his proposed policies “dangerously stupid” during his broadcast of “Sunday Night in America” on the Fox News Channel.
In a speech given, predictably, at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters on Saturday, Bragg said that no one should be surprised by his actions: “We said we were going to marry fairness and safety and we laid out a specific plan. We put on the website, we put it in print and this week after January 1st we got down to work and we are doing what we said we would do.”
Bragg’s memo outlined new guidelines to eliminate charges being pressed for the following offenses, among others, “unless as part of an accusatory instrument containing at least one felony count”:
- marijuana misdemeanors
- refusing to pay far for public transportation
- unlicensed operation of a vehicle
- resisting arrest.
Additionally, he instructed his prosecutors to ask judges for jail time only for the most serious offenses — like murder, sexual assault, and large-scale economic crimes — unless the law requires them to do otherwise. He also instructed his staff to avoid seeking jail time for certain robberies and assaults, as well as gun possession in cases where no other crimes are involved. He directed that they no longer request prison sentences of more than 20 years in the absence of “exceptional circumstances.”
Many find one talking point of the memo particularly egregious: a robbery charge should be downgraded to a petit larceny — also known as “petty theft” — “if the force or threat of force consists of displaying a dangerous instrument or similar behavior but does not create a genuine risk of physical harm.” In other words, criminals can brandish a weapon while committing a robbery — scaring people and creating a potentially lethal situation — but if no one ends up dead or injured, it’s really just a minor crime.
The Detectives’ Endowment Association, which represents 5,000 active police detectives in NYC, released a statement on Twitter on January 4 to respond to Bragg’s memo, with DEA President Paul DiGiacomo saying, “In Bragg’s Manhattan, you can resist arrest, deal drugs, obstruct arrests, and even carry a gun and get away with it.”
The DA’s memo, DiGiacomo continues, “calls for policy-making it impossible to prosecute crimes [and]….undermines the ability of the police to make arrests that lead to reduction of crime.”
“Where there are drugs, there are guns. They go together,” said Detectives’
Endowment Association President Paul DiGiacomo. “D.A. Bragg has made
himself the police, the judge and the jury.” pic.twitter.com/brBeoJ6XFG
— Detectives’ Endowment Association (@NYCPDDEA) January 4, 2022
Trey Gowdy agrees. He asserted, “These hug-a thug, soft on crime policies have real-world consequences. Not only are more people victimized and killed, but these prosecutors are trying to change the law with a memo. That is anti-democratic.”
He continued, saying, “I hate to ruin the ending but when you let violent people out on bond, you get more violence.”
Even some former prosecutors are suggesting that DA Bragg should proceed with caution.
“Progressive criminal justice reform has to find a balance,” said Karen Friedman Agnifilo, who served under the outgoing District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr. “Old-school law enforcement went too far in one direction, but lessons we’re learning in some big cities suggest that others may have gone too far in the other direction.”
She has a point; examples of this can be seen in the Democratic-run cities of Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, to name but a few.
Reaction on Twitter to a CNN posting of their interview with Alvin Bragg on January 7th was swift and negative, likely to CNN’s surprise:
Im not big on predictions but your time as DA won’t be long. Good luck in your future endeavors.
— Abetterway (@nyhoopcoach) January 8, 2022
Interesting you would equate poverty with criminality. Two separate issues two separate solutions to seek. And you are the top prosecutor where city hall has had the worst possible relationship with law enforcement in years. Good luck
— PK3 (@indmiddleman) January 9, 2022
Well my plans for visiting have changed. I’m sure Covid has affected the influx of guests…this will be a deal clincher. Taking NYC off my bucket list.
— KDavid (@KDavid04037871) January 8, 2022
Wait. This is confusing. He says that minor theft like stealing a banana shouldn’t be prosecuted. So what happens if someone steals a banana and an apple every single day and the disgruntled owner then takes the law into his own hands??? This is how crime works.
— Berhtwald (@Berhtwald1) January 8, 2022
As a result of your new policies. I will no longer be visiting Manhattan. I don’t feel safe. I understand equity, but it must be balanced. Your policies make it alright for someone to get robbed at gunpoint and get a desk ticket. No thank you!!
— Ebony (@ebonynixon95) January 10, 2022
While the concept may sound valid, the reality is an analogy to running to fight the nine alarm fire because the waste basket fire was allowed grow. Quality of life crimes are still crimes where there should be some form of accountability to deter from becoming major crimes.
— Ed Hudley (@EdHudley) January 7, 2022
Utter lunacy , right is wrong and wrong is right . So I pay taxes and work and I’m a walking victim cause of this policy
— Miriam riviera (@miriam_riviera) January 9, 2022
You will turn NY into SF. You are the wrong person for the job.
— james (@James_7_11_17) January 8, 2022
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