NEW YORK, NY — During New York’s November 2022 elections, crime rose to the forefront of debates for state-level offices—including the races for Governor and Attorney General. With elections now behind us, Nick Ohnell Fellow Rafael Mangual suggests three agenda items in a new Manhattan Institute memo that could be prioritized at the New York City level—through legislative and/or administrative action—to enhance the city’s public safety in the absence of meaningful statewide action. These include:
Amending the “Diaphragm Law”: The law should be amended to (1) include a mens rea standard, requiring prosecutors to establish as an element of the offense that officers intentionally applied a prohibited neck restraint, and that they intentionally sat, knelt, or stood on the chest or back in a manner that compressed the diaphragm; (2) create an exception for cases in which the subject is actively physically resisting arrest; and (3) restrict the attachment of criminal penalties to cases involving physical injuries proximately caused by the violation of the statute.
Systematically reporting data on repeat offending: Mayor Adams should direct the NYPD to begin reporting (1) the average number of arrests in criminal histories of those charged with homicides, shootings, illegal firearm possession, and violent felonies and (2) the shares of those arrested and charged with homicides, shootings, illegal firearm possession, and violent felonies who, at the time of the offense, were on pretrial release, on probation, and on parole. Additionally, the mayor should direct his office for criminal justice (MOCJ) to begin reporting on a rolling basis the share of those charged with homicides, shootings, illegal firearm possession, and violent felonies who are released pretrial, convicted, sentenced to probation, sentenced to jail terms, and sentenced to terms of imprisonment.
Experimenting with a new recruitment strategy: The Department and the Adams administration should build and execute a strategy to attract high-level career-oriented recruits, who can both augment the city’s near-term crimefighting efforts and become the next generation of NYPD leaders. This could allow a select group of qualified candidates, who perform exceptionally on the written exam and throughout the recruit screening process, to be placed on a fast-track to investigative and leadership roles.