A Mayoral Agenda for Justice and Safety in New York City

DOWNLOAD PDF READ IN FULL SCREEN By Michael P. Jacobson and Martha King

The next administration will face a significant challenge: how to maintain record low levels of crime and hugely reduced levels of incarceration, arguably achieved in significant part by policing procedures, while coping with the acute, and not yet fully understood, consequences of these policing strategies. Once the symbol of urban decay and blight, New York City is now known for leading the nation’s cities in decreasing levels of reported crimes.  The city’s decline has been twice that of any other city and has lasted twice as long as in any other city.

But New York City’s notoriety does not end there. When the next mayor takes office, the city will likely be just as widely recognized for its controversial stop, question, and frisk strategy (SQF) and the antagonism that it has generated among many of its residents.  In light of recent judicial decisions and legal opinion, the next mayor may well face an existing or approaching court order to reform the NYPD’s SQF strategy.

Regardless of any court intervention, the SQF strategy, as New York City has carried it out during the past 12 years, is not politically sustainable. The resentment and distrust it has engendered has delegitimized the NYPD among far too many residents. The next mayor must address these pressing concerns, continue successful policies to decrease the prison population, and expand on the city’s commitment to the robust network of alternatives to incarceration and evidence-based strategies that orient the criminal justice system as much toward reentry, employment, and mental health as to arrest, conviction, and incarceration.