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 public safety.
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 Queens.
“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.”