Tina Luongo, Legal Aid's Criminal Chief, Discusses Drop In Arrests As First Word On The Call
MONDAY, JANUARY 12, 2015

Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Practice, discussed the drop in arrests on NY1's The Call. "Particularly what we see is a dramatic drop in the quality of life low-level misdemeanors that certainly have been part of the philosophy of the broken windows policing that NYPD has done so it’s—we’ve seen that and it certainly comes as, I believe, a relief to the communities of color that that policing philosophy affects," she said.

She continued: "I also think that what we’re hearing, right, from the work we do in our communities as the chief public defender in New York City is that people in these communities that have been historically over policed feel as though their faith in their neighborhoods—not only are they safe from serious crime but they’re safe from being needlessly arrested on such things as riding your bike on a subway or disorderly conduct because you were merely standing on a street corner as a young person so it really does have a dramatic effect also on the way in which people feel about living in this city."

 

 

The Call
NY1 New York
January 12th, 2015  9-10PM

John Schiumo, Host: Joining us by phone tonight is Tina Luongo, criminal practice attorney in charge at The Legal Aid Society. Tina, thank you for your time tonight. You’ve witnessed this drop in arrests from perhaps a unique perspective. What have the last couple of weeks been like in the courts?

Tina Luongo, The Legal Aid Society: Good evening John. We certainly have seen a significant drop in the number of people that have been arrested and brought to court to meet our attorneys. Particularly what we see is a dramatic drop in the quality of life low-level misdemeanors that certainly have been part of the philosophy of the broken windows policing that NYPD has done so it’s—we’ve seen that and it certainly comes as, I believe, a relief to the communities of color that that policing philosophy affects. 

John Schiumo, Host: Yeah, several programs have uh—several viewers on this program, excuse me, have called over the last couple of weeks and have said, hey if the quality of life crackdown was relaxed a bit as it has been and serious crimes have not gone up, is it time to re-think broken windows? Do you agree with that?

Tina Luongo, The Legal Aid Society: Absolutely. I mean it is true that while we are tracking the data for low-level crimes, we also continue to track the date on felonies or serious crimes that one would be concerned about in terms of public safety and during this same period of time while we see that dramatic drop of low-level crimes we also see a dramatic drop in serious crimes so it really does call to question this idea that you need to have broken windows policing policies in order to keep New York City safe.

John Schiumo, Host: Yeah, Commissioner Bratton said that exact same thing today. Said crime is still down despite the slowdown and he said that there’s no noticeable spike in serious felonies and you’re seeing that as well. 

Tina Luongo, The Legal Aid Society: We’re seeing that as well. I also think that what we’re hearing, right, from the work we do in our communities as the chief public defender in New York City is that people in these communities that have been historically over policed feel as though their faith in their neighborhoods—not only are they safe from serious crime but they’re safe from being needlessly arrested on such things as riding your bike on a subway or disorderly conduct because you were merely standing on a street corner as a young person so it really does have a dramatic effect also on the way in which people feel about living in this city.

John Schiumo, Host: How many of these low-level arrests are tossed out of court anyway?

Tina Luongo, The Legal Aid Society: So I think, you know, every case is different but certainly what we see is people are arrested, they’re brought through the criminal justice system, they’re held in at precincts for over twenty-four hours—sometimes more where the system was very clogged—and that alone has such a dramatic effect on a person’s life. Then when you look at finally meeting a judge after meeting your public defender, you know, we’d advocate for our client to be released or for the case to be dismissed. So, just that whole entire process if you think about it from sort of a real-life perspective of what a person goes through for something that is a low-level crime that has nothing to do with public safety it’s not a wonder why people feel right now during this period of slowdown that these communities actually feel a bit more respected.

John Schiumo, Host: Hmm. That’s a strange conclusion to reach, perhaps, but it’s been reached not just by you but by many who call this program. Tina Luongo from the legal aid society, thank you so much for joining us and having the first word tonight.

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