In a classic deflection of responsibility, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday blamed the courts for the crime wave still engulfing the city.
He has some point: Courts across the five boroughs rendered just 18 criminal verdicts in the first half of this year — far fewer than the 405 over the same period in 2019, pre-pandemic. That’s a significant number of criminals not locked up and a dangerous message to the entire criminal class.
“Whether it’s something as horrible as a murder or gun violence, you need a culture of consequences,” de Blasio said without a hint of irony. And: “The absence of those consequences for a whole variety of crimes is undermining public safety.”
But the mayor shares the blame in the disappearance of “consequences” for anti-social behaviors. Proactive, “broken windows” policing has vanished on his watch, and he pushed the NYPD into shutting down its anti-gun plainclothes units. His drive to empty out Rikers Island to make it seem possible to replace those jails with far less capacity hasn’t helped, either.
And his fellow progressives in the Legislature did their share, ending bail for most crimes and altering pre-trial discovery rules to tilt the deck against prosecutors and imperil witnesses.
Courts can’t move cases to verdicts when witnesses don’t feel safe coming forward to aid police investigations and district attorneys are dismissing hundreds of cases and outright refusing to prosecute others. (The Post reports they dropped cases last year at twice the 2019 level.)
Plus, beat cops don’t think this mayor has their back, especially after he folded to the “defund” radicals last year, cutting $1 billion out of the NYPD budget. He also went along with an overbroad “chokehold” law that makes any physical confrontation a serious legal risk for the cop.
Yes, the courts are part of the problem. But the likely next mayor, Eric Adams, rightly notes, “The ocean of crime is being fed by many rivers.” De Blasio and his ideological allies have eviscerated the “culture of consequences” he now pines for.