Three Queens council members who are members of the Commonsense
Caucus say their legislative colleagues are out of touch when it comes
to tackling crime and have called on them to get tough on improving
Council members Bob Holden, Vickie Paladino and Joann Ariola want
their fellow lawmakers to take a hardline approach to crime which they
say is spiraling out of control. Major crime in New York City is up
nearly 27.5 percent this year compared to the same time last year,
according to police data.
The lawmakers told the Queens Post last month that residents are
living in fear with many afraid to walk the streets or take the subway—
such is the severity of the situation. Others have left the city
altogether, according to Holden.
The caucus members say it’s time for city and state lawmakers to
start sticking up for law-abiding citizens by taking legislative action,
engaging with their local police precincts and calling out crimes in
their districts when they see them.
“I lived through the 70s and 80s and we’re going back to that,” said
Holden, a Democrat who represents the 30th Council District in central
“My constituents are all worried. My wife, who is Asian American, will not set foot in the subway.”
The lawmakers argue that much of the city’s crime spike can be
attributed to what they call “far-left policies” such as bail reform
laws, the denigration of the police and their powers, as well
progressive district attorney’s not prosecuting crimes.
These policies, the caucus members claim, have empowered criminals
and led them to believe they won’t get punished. Many crimes, the
lawmakers say, are caused by repeat offenders.
“It’s out of control because it’s absolute lawlessness,” said Paladino, a Republican who represents the 19th Council District in northeast Queens.
“If you don’t have a city that backs their cops or wants to do
anything to change it then that’s a problem. And then we have our
District Attorneys who aren’t doing their jobs either, they’re not
prosecuting so it’s a turnstile system and it’s failing miserably.”
Many crimes too, the lawmakers argue, are being carried out by the
mentally ill who they say should be forced to get treatment. Instead,
many of these people are sleeping in the subways and roaming the streets
putting residents at risk, the caucus members say.
However, many progressive lawmakers challenge this narrative and say that the city is in not in the midst of a crime wave.
They say that murders are in fact down by more than 12 percent from
this time last year– and that crime is down compared to the Giuliani and
Bloomberg years of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Furthermore, they say that the rate of defendants being released
under bail reform and then violently reoffending has seen little change
since the reforms went into effect at the beginning of 2020. The rate
went from 3 percent in 2019—prior to the reforms—to 4 percent in 2021,
according to a report issued by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Additionally, progressive Councilmember Tiffany Cabán has played down
concerns about subway attacks, tweeting in September that violence on
the system is a “one-in-a-million event.”
She said that while the attacks were concerning, “let’s not let
fear-mongering politicians and corporate media outlets scare us into
thinking we have a dangerous, scary public transit system.”