Several Mott Haven residents and police officials in the 40th Precinct blamed a recent precinct-wide increase in crime on new state bail reforms during their monthly precinct community council meeting Wednesday night.
Crime statistics indicate that certain crimes have been on the rise in the South Bronx since last year, and police officials are now placing the blame on bail reform, which took effect in January, as the cause for the increase in crime.
“One individual in particular we’ve locked up nearly a dozen times this month,” said Deputy Inspector Robert Gallitelli, the precinct’s commanding officer. “He does burglaries. He breaks into construction sites, he breaks into people’s back yard garages, he’s sort of an equal opportunity thief.”
Citing a 138% increase in crime in the 28-day reporting period, compared to last year at this time, residents and police officials are continuing to put pressure on elected officials to reform the new bail laws.
“They didn’t make preparations for drug rehab, or homeless people, or transitional programs when they closed that island,” said Dana Eldern, referring to the pending closure of Riker’s Island. “We have to make more noise to let elected officials know what was done is not satisfactory.”
Eldern, 63, is a former NYPD employee who worked as a community affairs liaison, and is now a retired resident in Mott Haven.
The growing frustration comes as top NYPD officials appeared before a City Council committee on Wednesday to request a budget of nearly $6 billion over the next three years.
The bail reform issue has proven contentious, with several legislators seeking to rewrite portions of the law only a couple of months after it took effect. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated he will not sign a budget bill without some changes to the bail law.
In the City Council hearing on the NYPD budget, Queens Councilman Rory Lanceman challenged Police Commissioner Dermot Shea’s justification for a budget increase.
“Commissioners before you — Commissioner O’Neil, Commissioner Bratton — sat in that chair, and in various ways, shapes and forms told us that if you enact this reform, crime is going to go up, and crime has not gone up,” Lanceman said.
As part of its budget request, the NYPD is asking taxpayers to fund 250 new civilian staff to accommodate changes to the bail laws, at an estimated cost of $86.4 million over three years.
According to officials, the new staff will be necessary to help comply with new rules requiring police to turn over evidence in a criminal case as part of the bail reform package.
Even with the budget fights at City Hall, Deputy Inspector Gallitelli said the precinct remains focused on continuing to fight the rising crime rates in the precinct, and build on success he believes they had last year.
“Violence is always going to be at the top of the list. We made great strides last year, and our goal is to build on that.”