New York City detectives are plagued with low morale, low staffing and a lack of support from leadership 18 months after George Floyd’s death sparked national backlash against police departments, according to a union president who represents over 19,000 active and retired NYPD detectives.
“It’s the first time in history that you had all three entities of government turn their backs on the police — and I mean on a city level, state level and federal level,” Detectives’ Endowment Association President Paul DiGiacomo told Fox News.
In July 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City council voted to cut the city’s police department’s budget by roughly $1 billion amid intense public pressure to defund the police.
The budget cuts resulted in the 600-officer, plainclothes anti-crime unit being disbanded, the delay of a cadet class of roughly 900 officers and decreased overtime.
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“We have to build up the morale of the police department,” DiGiacomo said. “We have to make people like the police again.”
“The opinion of the police department suffered, unfairly in my opinion,” Bronx Detective Rick Simplicio told Fox News.
“It’s not as vocal,” he said, regarding the vitriol law enforcement faced in the months after Floyd died. “It’s still out there. It’s just not as vocal as it once was.”
New York‘s detectives investigate a litany of crimes, including petty larceny, homicide, sex crimes and counterterrorism.
The city’s detectives decreased from 7,200 in 2001 to 5,200 in 2021, according to DiGiacomo. As a result, the union president said detectives are spread thin and detective squads sometimes carry over 100 cases at a time.
Additionally, New York police made 393 arrests for illegal firearms in September, bringing the year-to-date total to 3,425. That’s almost a 21% increase compared to the 2,832 gun arrests made through September 2020, according to NYPD data.
“There are people carrying illegal firearms in the streets of New York City at an alarming rate,” DiGiacomo said.
Both he and Simplicio agreed that a bail reform law implemented in January 2020, which made release before trial automatic for most people accused of misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, has made it difficult to keep criminals off the streets.
“The defunding of the police didn’t work, just like the laws that were passed in Albany are not working,” DiGiacomo said, blaming New York’s legislature for passing reforms that are making crime worse. “It’s just that our elected officials are not adult enough to realize or admit they made a mistake and fix what they broke.”
According to DiGiacomo, 82% of the people caught with an illegal firearm so far this year were released shortly after being arrested.
“Bail reform laws allow them to be released and they hit the streets back the very next morning,” Simplicio said. “There have been cases where individuals have been arrested for firearms – more than once – and they were released, and they committed a murder.”
The number of shootings rose 97% from 777 in 2019 to 1,531 in 2020 and murders jumped by 44% from 319 to 462, according to the NYPD.
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Additionally, DiGiacomo criticized a discovery reform passed in 2019, which allows criminal defendants to request access to crime scenes. He said the policy puts witnesses at risk and discourages them from coming forward with evidence.
The union president also said the judicial system needs to start enforcing the law, which requires anyone caught with an illegal firearm to serve a minimum of one year in jail.
“If you fix those three things, the shootings in New York City will drop dramatically,” he said.
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Both DiGiacomo and Simplicio said they would back whichever mayoral candidate in Tuesday’s election focused on reducing crime and supported the police department.
“If the next mayor, whoever it may be, doesn’t fix the crime epidemic in the city of New York, the economic machine of the city will come to a halt, and the city will fall,” said DiGiacomo.
“It’ll go back to days that you don’t want to see, and that we haven’t seen in many, many years,” he continued.
Teny Sahakian is an Associate Producer/Writer for Fox News. Follow Teny Sahakian on Twitter at @tenysahakian.