Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I–Pulaski) and members of the Minority Conference on July 10 joined law-and-order professionals demanding state leaders reverse dangerous policies that have continuously compromised public safety and undermined the ability of law-enforcement agencies to do their jobs as violent, and often deadly, incidents increase across New York state.
The Assembly Republican Conference reinforced its call for a reversal on new laws eliminating bail in most arrests, reestablishing judicial review, and halting policies that return criminals to the streets rather than taking the necessary steps to protect them from COVID-19.
“Sadly, we have approached the moment in time we warned against when calls for disastrous bail reforms first started. Pro-criminal directives and an erosion of law and order have made our communities more dangerous,” said Leader Barclay. “In one week there were 101 shooting victims in New York City. In Syracuse, a man was charged with attempted murder for shooting at another man and an 11-month-old child outside a store. In a matter of 72 hours, 13 people were shot and another was stabbed in Rochester. The list is long; the list is horrifying. The pendulum has swung too far to the side of the criminals and innocent victims are paying the price. We cannot continue along this path.”
In the wake of criminal-justice reforms that have weakened criminal penalties and judicial authority, and anti-police measures advanced by liberal politicians, regions across New York state have experienced a dangerous rise in crime, with gun violence reaching alarming levels in many cities. For example, year-to-date totals compared to 2019 reported by respective agencies include:
• In Albany, homicides have increased by 800 percent; shootings are up 379 percent;
• In Buffalo, homicides have increased by 88 percent; shootings are up 54 percent;
• In New York City, homicides have increased by 27 percent; shootings are up 63 percent;
• In Rochester, shooting-related homicides have increased by 40 percent; shooting incidents are up 46 percent; and
• In Syracuse, homicides have increased by 27 percent; burglaries are up 31 percent.
In addition, it has been reported that of the nearly 1,500 prisoners granted early release from Rikers Island due to possible concerns associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, 13 percent have been re-arrested.
“From one end of the state to the other, residents are waking up to learn there was another shooting in their community. With each new call to defund the police, morale within the ranks of police departments from Buffalo to New York City grows even more dire. And as if fighting COVID-19 wasn’t difficult enough, we’ve learned prisoners released early because of the virus have been re-arrested in staggering numbers. Talk about fueling the crime-wave fire,” said Assemblyman Joseph M. Giglio (R,C,I–Gowanda), the Minority Conference’s ranking member on the Committee on Correction.
Years of liberal-driven legislation and policies have emboldened criminal behavior, scaled back penalties, and undermined the authority of law-enforcement agencies to provide public safety for the communities they serve. Democrats have advanced or supported dangerous initiatives including:
• Raising the age of criminal responsibility;
• Allowing bail reform to establish a revolving door for career criminals;
• Stripping duly-elected judges of their ability to exercise discretion;
• Allowing public disclosure of unsubstantiated and false claims against police, while prohibiting mugshots of criminal suspects;
• Refunding police budgets, which will result in fewer officers; and
• Requiring all police officers to carry personal-liability insurance in the event of lawsuits.
If New York is going to get control of this horrific increase in gun violence it’s going to need to rethink the dangerous policies that facilitated these crimes. The Assembly Minority Conference stands ready to work with members from both houses and parties to address this growing issue.
This opinion article is drawn from a news release the New York Assembly Republican Conference issued on July 10. The Conference also held a remote press conference on the same day.