NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell sent an email to police on Friday saying she is “concerned” about their safety in light of the progressive policy announced this week of the new district attorney in Manhattan, whom some see as soft on crime.
“I have studied these policies and I am very concerned about the consequences for your safety as a police officer, public safety and justice for the victims,” Sewell wrote in the email to The Post.
“I express my concerns to the Manhattan District Attorney and hope to have honest and productive discussions to try to reach more common ground.”
District Attorney Alvin Bragg, in his first memo issued Monday, instructed his staff to stop the prosecution of many low-profile offenses, to seek reduced charges for certain crimes, and not to ask for bail except in the most serious cases.
Sewell, who also recently started in his role after being appointed of the new mayor Eric Adams, said the progressive approach will erode the quality of life in the city and send a message to police officers that they are not protected.
Her message differs from Adams, who has stood by Bragg in the midst of outrage over his approach.
Asked on Wednesday about DA’s policy of not going after minor offenses, Adams told reporters: “I know DA Bragg. I respect him, he is a fantastic prosecutor.”
In her email to all uniformed members of the department, Sewell said she had already raised some issues with Bragg, including his refusal to prosecute charges of resisting arrests unless they are part of a larger criminal case.
This decision “will invite violence against police officers and will have detrimental effects on our relationship with the communities we protect,” Sewell wrote.
The chief police officer also raised concerns about the new policies that downgrade crimes to misdemeanors in certain cases.
For example, Bragg’s note states that suspects originally charged with armed robbery by a store would be charged with petty theft instead, misdemeanor, provided no victims were seriously injured and there was no “real risk of physical harm”. damage.” DA’s office clarified Wednesday that it would still prosecute armed robberies involving a gun as a crime.
Sewell said classifying gun robberies in businesses as misdemeanors instead of crimes puts police at risk and is bad for business owners who are de-escalation of increased theft.
“Commercial establishments have endured much during this pandemic, and the city government should do what it can to ensure that they participate and thrive in the city’s ongoing recovery efforts,” she wrote.
Downgrading drug trafficking charges “will invite more outdoor drug markets and drug use in Manhattan, ”and led to more gun violence as dealers beef across territory, she argued.
Bragg’s policies will exacerbate concerns about quality of life, which have risen 59 percent since 2019, based on complaints to 311, Sewell claimed.
“The new indictment policies of the Manhattan District Attorney are effectively decriminalizing much of the behavior that New Yorkers are asking the police to address,” the chief of police wrote.
Sewell also raised concerns about Bragg’s stated goal of significantly reducing remand in custody and reserving it only for “very serious cases.”
“In addition to possession of weapons, I am concerned that imprisonment will no longer be sought prior to the trial for charges such as terrorism, criminal sale of a firearm, robbery with weapons … and other serious violent crimes that create security for the public and the police. officers who have sworn to protect and serve at great risk, ”she wrote.
Sewell told members of the nation’s largest police department that she believes in “criminal justice reform,” but claimed the NYPD has already helped reduce incarceration and arrests by pursuing “community-based solutions.”
“I believe in reforms that make sense when applied jointly,” Sewell told police. “Similarly, I am concerned about extensive edicts that appear to remove discretion, not only from police officers but also from assistant district prosecutors as to what crimes should be prosecuted and how they should be prosecuted.”
The commissioner said she would seek to talk to Bragg further “to seek a better balance between officer security, public safety and reform” – but in the meantime, police instructed “to carry out your work based on your training, guidance from supervisors and law enforcement.” “
While some public defenders, including the Legal Aid Society, welcomed Bragg’s changes, police union leaders have warned that the policies would only lead to more crime.
The leader of the NYPD’s largest union, the Police Benevolent Association, also expressed “serious concerns about the message these types of policies send to both police officers and criminals on the streets.”
“Police officers do not want to be sent out to enforce laws that district attorneys will not prosecute,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said.
A request for comment from the DA’s office was not immediately returned late Friday night.