Legal Aid Criminal Chief Says Broken Windows Policing Unnecessary
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 07, 2015

Tina Luongo, the Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Practice at The Legal Aid Society, said that the dramatic drop in arrests for low-level crimes proves that Broken Windows policing, with its emphasis on quality of life offenses, was unnecessary.

"The important takeaway is you don't have to arrest people of color in poor communities on low-level crimes to increase public safety," she told the NY Daily News. Legal Aid attorneys quoted in the story said that the drop proves that NYPD has been making nonsensical arrests for a long time.
 
 
 
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
EXCLUSIVE: Misdemeanor arraignments dramatically drop thanks to NYPD slowdown
BY Eli Rosenberg , Stephen Rex Brown 
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
 
The wheels of justice require a lot less manpower at New York City courts - thanks to the NYPD slowdown.

At Brooklyn and Manhattan criminal courts arraignments have been consolidated into one courtroom instead of the usual two because there simply aren’t enough defendants.

Courtrooms in all five boroughs have seen dramatic drops in the number of misdemeanor arraignments for crimes like selling untaxed cigarettes, public urination, or sleeping with feet on seats in the subway.

-In Manhattan prosecutors considered 26 misdemeanor cases from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2, compared to 196 during the same period last year.

-In Brooklyn during the same period 433 misdemeanor cases reached the courthouse, compared to 1,270 last year.

-Staten Island court saw 78 misdemeanors, compared to 149 during the same period last year.

-The Bronx saw 264 cases, compared to 979 last year.

-And Queens saw a paltry 612 misdemeanors, compared to 1,346 last year.

Legal Aid Society attorney Steven Chavez said he typically would see 60 or 70 per shift in Manhattan, but that recently he was down to 10 to 15.

“There’s a lot more sitting around,” said Chavez, 38, who has been a public defender for 10 years.

Public defenders in Queens said the decline in arrests — combined with no increase in crime — proved the NYPD had been busting people for bogus offenses.

“They're not arresting for nuisance crimes — really petty stuff,” Legal Aid attorney Francis Gibbons said.

“I don't know if it's a dream, but I'm glad. ... Guys aren't spending the night in jails. People who really shouldn't be in jail for petty stuff aren't going to jail for petty stuff.”

Spokespeople for city district attorneys cautioned that the caseload figures from recent weeks were not final, and that numbers are often skewed by the holidays, as well as a change in policy regarding low-level marijuana arrests.

On Tuesday, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch denied cops were willfully not doing their jobs.

Our members are out there doing their jobs and putting themselves in danger to keep this city safe just as they always do,” he said. “That’s a clear demonstration of a police officer’s dedication to duty and that there is no union initiated or supported slowdown.”

Still, Chavez said he’d never seen anything like it in his career.

“It’s amazing,” he said.

“It really underscores that they’ve been making nonsensical arrests for so long.”

Public defenders noticed the precipitous drop in arrests after a Staten Island grand jury in December chose not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

“Within a day we saw the numbers fall off a cliff,” Chavez said.

Tina Luongo, an attorney in charge of criminal defense at the Legal Aid Society, said the change proved that Broken Windows policing, with its emphasis on quality of life offenses, was unnecessary.

"The important takeaway is you don't have to arrest people of color in poor communities on low-level crimes to increase public safety," she said.