The new commissioner for the New York City Police Department has some strong concerns about newly installed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s radical leftist approach to crime in the city. Police commissioner Keechant Sewell is the first woman ever to hold the position and started her term by telling police officers in a memo about her concerns.
Bragg also began his term with a memo in which he outlined the policies he planned to put in place. He instructs the prosecutors in his office to stop prosecuting many lower-level criminal acts and to reduce charges for others. He advises his staff not to pursue a “carceral sentence,” meaning jail time, for all crimes other than homicides, violent felonies including weapons, some lewd offenses, domestic violence felonies, and some white-collar crimes. Some have already described Bragg’s approach as an “insane usurpation of the criminal code.”
In her message to NYPD officers, Sewell pointed out Bragg’s new non-prosecution policies and advised that she is “very concerned” about how officer safety, public safety, and justice for crime victims will be impacted.
Sewell added that while she believes in criminal justice reform, it should be applied “collaboratively” between all system parts. She said she is concerned about any “sweeping edicts” that take discretion away from police officers and assistant district attorneys when determining how to charge and prosecute crimes.
Sewell specifically addressed Bragg’s intention to end prosecution of resisting arrest and obstruction cases. She expressed concern that police officers will work when people “interfere with impunity.” She went on to ask what message is being sent to the public when criminals are allowed to openly violate the law by physically resisting lawful instructions or arrests.
Regarding Bragg’s stated policies on drug crime prosecution, Sewell said that Manhattan is sure to have more “open-air drug markets” and public drug use.
Bragg has since released a statement that said his office would continue dialogue with the NYPD but not share any details. He said that such discussions are best not to be done “through the media.”