New York City Mayor Eric Adams is definitely an improvement over his predecessor Bill de Blasio. But that is not saying much at all. De Blasio’s policies made New York City a more dangerous place in which to live and work, as well as to visit, than it had been for decades. Indeed, Bill de Blasio’s toxic combination of leftwing progressivism, incompetence, corruption, and arrogance came close to transforming the Big Apple into a hopelessly rotten apple.
Mayor Adams is off to a slow start in terms of achieving concrete results that increase public safety. But at least he is addressing the problem and trying to turn things around.
Bill de Blasio pursued a radical anti-police agenda during his time in office. The former mayor presided over the defunding of the New York Police Department (NYPD) by a billion dollars. He blessed his police commissioner’s decision to disband the NYPD’s elite anti-crime unit.
Consistent with his hostility towards the police and his obsession with promoting the cause of “racial justice and equity” at the expense of public safety, Bill de Blasio championed the Black Lives Matter movement.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, for example, the leftist mayor allowed Black Lives Matter’s disruptive protest marches to proceed with no social distancing or masks required. Meanwhile, he shut down the city’s customary summertime cultural parades altogether.
“I’ve said many times — the protests, this is a particular moment in history where 400 years of oppression, 400 years of racism are being addressed in a very powerful way,” Bill de Blasio said back in July of 2020. “That can’t compare to anything else.”
Thankfully, Mayor Adams has taken office with a very different set of priorities that puts public safety at the top of his agenda as the mayor promised to do during his campaign. Unlike his predecessor, this mayor is not placating leftwing progressives who exploit the tiny number of police shootings of blacks who turned out to be unarmed. These leftwing progressives are the same race-baiters who neglect the fates of many more innocent black victims, including young children, shot by other blacks during gang shootouts or otherwise.
Indeed, Mayor Adams has singled out the Black Lives Matter movement for criticism. This mayor had his own Sister Souljah moment when he rebuked Black Lives Matter movement leaders for their hypocrisy.
“If Black lives matter, then the thousands of people I saw on the street when [George] Floyd was murdered should be on the streets right now stating that the lives of these Black children that are dying every night matter,” Mayor Adams said. “We can’t be hypocrites,” he added. “Where are all those who stated Black lives matter? Then go do an analysis of who was killed or shot last night. I was up all night speaking to my commanders in the Bronx and Brooklyn. The victims were Black. Many of the shooters were Black. Why are 16, 17, 18-year-olds out on our streets armed with guns at 12:00 or 1:00 a.m.?”
Hawk Newsome, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, responded to Mayor Adams’ criticism by calling New York City’s second black mayor a “white man in blackface, and a very conservative-minded white man at that.” Last year, Newsome had threatened “riots,” “fire” and “bloodshed” if Mayor Adams cracked down on crime once in office, but he is now blaming the mayor for allowing the city to turn into a “war zone.”
Merchants of racial division like Newsome are making things worse in New York City with their hate-filled rhetoric.
Mayor Adams’ message needs to be heard loud and clear, particularly by the black community. But actions speak louder than words. The actions that Mayor Adams has taken so far can only be described as small steps in the right direction.
For example, Mayor Adams is starting to deal with the menace of mentally ill and addicted homeless people on the streets and in the subways, some of whom have been attacking innocent people randomly. His administration has begun removing makeshift homeless encampments from streets and parks. The mayor said that he wants these people placed in “healthy living conditions with wraparound services.” Some homeless people using subway cars and stations as their shelters are also being removed. Mayor Adams needs to stand firm in the face of intense opposition from leftist advocates for the homeless.
Mayor Adams has relaunched the anti-crime police unit that his predecessor’s administration had disbanded. The unit’s name was changed to focus on its mission to remove illegal guns from the streets and its police officers are now wearing modified uniforms rather than plain clothes. So far, the unit has made only a minor number of arrests.
“We have to stop the flow of guns, but we also must do the jobs of getting the guns off the streets that’s on there now,” Mayor Adams said, “and my anti-gun unit, they’re doing that.”
Getting illegal guns off the streets is fine. But it is more important to get the violent gun-toting criminals off the streets. These thugs can always replace the guns confiscated by the police with other guns they acquire from the underground market and then use those guns to murder more people.
The NYPD has increased its police presence on the streets and in the subways. That’s also good as far as it goes. The problem is that dangerous criminals will continue to be released from custody because of New York State’s lax bail reform law and they will continue to prey on innocent people. There’s not much that Mayor Adams can do about that himself except continue to lobby Albany for meaningful changes to this disastrous law.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul managed to negotiate some minor improvements to the progressive bail reform legislation as part of a deal with the state legislature on the state budget. However, judges will still not have adequate discretion to keep newly arrested defendants who pose a significant risk to the public in jail and off the streets.
Mayor Adams has tried to assure New Yorkers that he is doing all he can to ensure that their city is safe, including the subways, and said that the city is still much safer than it was in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
“I was in the city when it spiraled out of control,” Mayor Adams said during a recent MSNBC interview. “That is not what we’re facing at this time…This city is far from spiraling out of control, and we hope to get crime under control and also deal with those pathways that lead to criminal behavior in our city.”
People walking on New York City’s streets and riding its subways take little comfort from the fact that conditions today are not as dire as they were thirty years ago. They are concerned with their personal safety in the here and now. And for good reason.
Just look at the bloodbath that occurred April 12th during the early-morning rush hour on a Brooklyn subway. No police were present to stop an individual dressed like a construction worker from setting off smoke bombs and then shooting at random, wounding twenty-nine people. The suspect was captured only after he called to turn himself in. This horrific crime followed on the heels of a number of horrendous murders in the city. New Yorkers are understandably alarmed.
Not to worry, Mayor Adams said during his MSNBC interview.
“The transit system is the lifeblood of our city, and we have put in place what I believe are the foundational parts of having a real public-safety apparatus,” the mayor declared. “Everything from deploying police correctly, to dealing with the mental-health and homelessness crisis in our system, to ensuring that officers are receiving specific information on what we expect from them,” he added. “The omnipresence, making sure that passengers are seeing those officers going after those violent offenders.”
Unfortunately, the mayor’s soothing words, good intentions, and mostly symbolic actions to date have not yet translated into a real reduction in major crimes committed in New York City, according to statistics compiled by the NYPD. In fact, major crimes have risen since Mayor Adams took office, except for murders.
For the year 2022 through April 17th compared to the same period last year, murders in New York City have declined 8.2 percent. But rapes have increased 15.8 percent. Robberies have increased 48 percent. Felonious assaults have risen 21.2 percent. Transit crimes have risen 66.8 percent.
The rampant crime wave plaguing New York City three decades ago was brought under control after then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani came into office. He adopted an aggressive law enforcement and deterrence strategy, using what was known as the broken windows approach that cracked down on relatively minor offenses to send a strong law-and-order message to more serious would-be criminals. Mike Bloomberg succeeded Giuliani as mayor and was similarly tough on crime. Mr. Bloomberg expanded the NYPD’s stop and frisk program, which Bill de Blasio then cut back considerably after he became mayor in 2014.
Mayor Eric Adams has his work cut out for him. He will not succeed in making people in New York City feel truly safe unless he returns to the tried-and-true anti-crime programs of the past, which were in place before Bill de Blasio came into office and nearly ruined the city.