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Friday, November 26, 2021

NYPD boss Dermot Shea partly blames crime spike on failure to keep suspects on Rikers

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The city’s top cop Tuesday pinned part of the blame for the Big Apple’s crime spike on the failure to keep suspects in custody on Rikers Island.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea acknowledged in an NY1 interview that the city has “seen a little bit of a rise in crime recently on some of the crimes that we haven’t talked about in a while such as robbery, stolen cars, things of that nature.”

He pegged “the laws” as playing a role in the uptick — and while he didn’t elaborate, Shea has in the past repeatedly slammed sweeping state bail-reform measures for keeping criminals out of jail and wreaking havoc on public safety. 

“I mean, if you look now, I think we’re at about 5,400 [inmates] and change in Rikers Island,” the commissioner said. “It was almost 6,100 about a month and a half ago. So that’s another factor of this — that you know, all of these things play into what we’re seeing on the street. But we’re out there, we’re fighting, and we’re gonna hold the line for New Yorkers.”

NYPD Commissioner Shea
Shea has in the past repeatedly slammed sweeping state bail-reform measures for keeping criminals out of jail and wreaking havoc on public safety.
Matthew McDermott

In September, Shea criticized City Hall’s plan to prematurely release dozens of Rikers Island inmates from the out-of-control jail — a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio said the prisoners would be set free in an early-release program as part of his administration’s efforts to reduce the amount of detainees there. 

“My position would be — the people that are in Rikers Island worked awfully hard to get in there,” Shea said at the time. “And I’m worried about the people in New York City on the street, so my position would be people that are in there deserve to stay in there.”

The mayor Tuesday said he agreed with Shea that there are ” things that need to be fixed” in terms of bail reform.

De Blasio added that The Post’s front page Tuesday shows “we’ve got to do better’’ when it comes to keeping Big Apple residents safe — although he offered no concrete solutions.

Aerial view of Rikers Island.
The Post recently published a front-page article, garnering attention from Mayor de Blasio, citing the release without bail of an ex-con who once tried to kill a NYPD cop.
AP / Seth Wenig

The cover story involved ex-con Isus Thompson, 38, who nearly killed an NYPD cop in 2008 and then allegedly randomly attacked another cop over the weekend. 

During his arraignment for the latest case, Thompson was freed without bail when he could have been held. 

De Blasio seemed to make the case about bail reform, even though that wasn’t the issue.

“We’ve got to fix the parts of this bill that aren’t working, we got to preserve the parts that are working,’’ de Blasio said, referring to the reforms passed by the state legislature that wiped out possible bail for most suspects in misdemeanor and some felony cases.

“There are some profoundly good reforms, but an episode like this points out this is just not the way to keep people safe. We got to do better.”

Between Nov. 8 and Saturday — the latest period covered in the department’s COMPStat records — there has been an increase in four of the seven major felonies: robbery, assault, grand larceny and grand larceny auto. 

A man is arrested and put into handcuffs by police officer next to police car.
Between Nov. 8 and Nov. 13, there was an increase in four of the seven major felonies: robbery, assault, grand larceny and grand larceny auto.
G.N.Miller/NYPost

The biggest spikes are in robberies, from 269 during that period last year to 352 this year — about a 30 percent jump — and grand larcenies, from 844 to 970 — about a 15 percent increase.

Transit crimes were up more than 140 percent last week — a total of 53 compared to 22 during that period last year, the records show.

But so far this year, transit crime is down about 8 percent — a total of 1,448 incidents compared to 1,574 last year.

The top cop called transit a “weird dynamic” because this year’s numbers are being compared to last year’s — when ridership was way down amid the pandemic.



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