Episode 237: Jumaane Williams On Gun Violence & Police Reform
Jared Murphy from city limits, Dot Org and this has been maximum gathering visit. I'll be joined by New York City. Public advocate, Jimani Williams, and he's GonNa talk about some new recommendations that he's put out related to how to reduce gun violence in New York City. The city is has seen an increase in gun violence this year. Getting a lot of attention, folks are probably familiar with the fact that some of those numbers are up in tune in terms of shootings and murders across the city and public advocate Jimani Williams Williams in join us to talk about some of his recommendations for how to bring down the gun violence, and we're also GONNA. Talk about another area of focus for the public advocate that relates that of course, mets police reform show the public advocate who has had police reform as a focus of his for a long time since he was in the city council, certainly and even prior to that I believe is going to come and join us and talk about both police reform and how he wants to see the. The police, but not just police work on the issue of gun violence in New York City, and then we'll probably get into even some additional issues related to how the city recovers from the coronavirus crisis, and all of its fallout in its socioeconomic factors will talk with public advocate Jimani Williams in just a few minutes. We're looking forward to having him back on the program with some new thoughts and some new discussion points and of course I really WanNa. Ask Him pointedly about how he tries to balance his push for. For reform with also of course, had to make sure that communities in the city is a whole are safe, and there's a lot of criticism of folks like advocate Williams for pushing too far on the police reform side, and we're going to get his reaction to that and see how he thinks. The city needs to both combat, the surge gun violence and also continued to reform the police department, and on that point I also want to mention. We just published a goth visit late last night for this morning. A! New Deep dive piece on all of the police reforms that have been passed and promised over the last several weeks. It's really been a watershed period for police reforms like the public advocate and many others, and we tried to pull it all together at I. Don't think anybody's done that quite yet. To say look at all. These reforms that have happened on the city and state levels and some others that have been promised by executive action or by the NYPD Commissioner, that of course need to be seen to be believed, but there's really been just an incredible amount that has moved in the last several weeks after George. Floyd was killed in Minnesota. Protests erupted and all of a sudden has the Reverend Al Sharpton actually said to a reporter some received for this story at Gotham Gazette the dam broke. You know there was a break in the dam that had been holding up a lot of these police reforms at the state and the city level, and of course opinions vary on what people think of those reforms, but there's no one on any side of the equation who questions whether it's really been an immense period for police reforms being moved at both New York state in your city levels, but right now I'm happy to be joined by New York City public advocate Johnny Williams. HOW ARE YOU MR public advocate? A couple of Weeks but We're all trying to hang in there. Doing okay. You know definitely concern for the city. In, some of the ways that we're GonNa talk about here in some of the ways we'll talk about. Later in the show with guests to talk more about the economy and jobs, and then as I was saying, you probably probably weren't quite on the line yet, but I was saying earlier. You know watching the COVID. Nineteen numbers exclude across the country is really troubling as well both for the people going through it, and of course what they mean for for us here in New York A. Lot to be concerned about as we as we chat here today. So, why don't we start with what you've been focused on the most lately these last couple of weeks as you said very challenging, very troubling weeks. You have some some new recommendations how the city should combat a surge in gun violence that we're seeing WANNA lay out the broad strokes of those recommendations. I think you know the things I've been working on for quite some time and quite frankly they worked, and it's all about kind of reframing. What public safety is and we'll public safety. And anyone who thinks that enforcement is not a part of that conversation just wrong. And anyone who thinks that law enforcement is the only part of that conversation is also wrong, and it's about figuring out what part everyone has to play in why everyone's not at the table and I think there's some structural inequity that will take a little longer to work on, but three recommendations that are made to the mayor and the commissioner adjust good conditioning just last week become one kind of surreally reframing how we use COMSAT, and you know all sad to see the commission's remarks, very destructive remarks, cops that losing weight example while. While, we need to look at that difference right now. The Police Department is the only one accountable for combat commanders have to stand up in front of everyone and say the crime numbers, either up or down. What are they doing to stop it? That's a problem and so we have a of an agency that has to be a part of conversation city wide level. What are they doing this? Some of those on a local level, but all the community organizations that also have to be accountable and should be at that conversation. It shouldn't be just left up to law enforcement because the tools that they have not enough to solve all the problems that are addressing. The second was be a model, but I know some folks will will look at funny, but an advanced piece that I think can overlay. On. The Crisis Manager System All cure violence that we're ready have. It's been peer review. It's been. To, there's been proven to work in cities in Los Angeles and it's basically beaming incentives to people who are most likely to shot or do some shooting for making improvements in the things that we normally don't even think so whether it's. Fixing resumes to getting GD things like that incentivize that. You? Know we don't mind spending money to send a bunch of cops community. We shouldn't mind spending the money on things that we know work and Lafley. It was about asking police to do their job. And so we've heard and seen are notably. Slowdowns and The complaints that we heard just didn't quite make sense Even. The new oppose of all people with debunking them trying to blame it on the bail reform which I was surprised to see, but. The the they did. Then! They blamed it on the whole bill. The city council pass that Bill went into place last week. The slow happening for two or three weeks and so why would they be a slowdown before and the rhetoric that we hear is whether we hear where the crime is up or crimes down and it's all about just police police police on what we're seeing is really have to reshape that and take it out so that his public safety is a broader. Broader conversation, so we can be fair to community and fairly the police officers to want to come to work every day and make a difference but to do that. We just have to really take step that and we missed an opportunity in his buddy. Everybody was so worried about the billion that we didn't. We weren't able to have a conversation about what is policing wire police still doing things like mental health. Last I do WANNA. Make it clear the. Diploma was not funded in any way shape or form. They ended up losing maybe three hundred and eighty million dollars. Agencies took the VIR cuts even more than that, so we have to stop that rhetoric as well. High so so let's dig in a little bit more here, so you're. You're clearly stating in a one thing. I think that's that's interesting. I mean discussion has moved so fast so quickly in some ways, even though the results is you said weren't really borne out in the in the budget decision, but you know there's the defunding conversation, and there's even this abolish the police conversation, so you're not arguing abolishing the Police Department That clear polices is part of the equation, but can you say a little bit more about what you think? The sort of rightsizing and right I'm functioning of the polices, is it? The police report should really just be. Responding to violent crime in Paris certain size of the police force you think is ideal. Are these things that you thought about? The, these are the questions to ask any to be answered, and they need leadership. That's going to be able to have that conversation as far as boxing. The police look It'd be Great Day if That was not needed so I. don't mind that as a goal that we have to get, but the reality is for the foreseeable future That's not where we're going to be and quite frankly even in the Topi- as someone who's going to be responsible for law enforcement, and so we should figure out what that what that looks like and the fact that matter people. We have thirty five thousand. Seven hundred is army in the world for capita where about six or seven in in the country. So how many police do we need safety? Do we need to double that? Do, we need to triple its in the police officer in front of every building if A. If a community is only have two choices, which is over policing. Jail and violence then we have a problem, so we should have been figuring out okay. Why are police officers responding to mental health services while I mean while they the first response. Mental Health Services. That's something we can take away why police officers responding the first ones responding to a car accident to fill out a report. Why are they holding up barricades that parades, but the real questions that we can have? We can do a deep dive. And really figure out. What are the resources that we have and where they being used? Unless, redirected for less refrain conversation in Minneapolis, many people thought that they got rid of the police department, but they did it. They did something different entirely. They create an office of public safety. which the Police Department reports! That's a rethinking an reexamining of public safety. Those are the questions that we should be asking. And sadly with missing a lot of that because of a lot of the screaming, hailing in the fair mongering that happens in I wanNA. Be Put. Just a few months ago another time, but they've. They've this slowdown type. Things have happened before. It just didn't have the results that they want to. Because we did not see a commensurate amount of crime wise, we just happened to be in a time. Crime is rising across the nation where we're just going through a pandemic, and it's surprising to me that we believed everything in these communities will get worse and cooling housing, food and security, but unemployment. We thought everything will get worse except violent, so we should have been planning for this for. Wow, but you know this has been tried before. Just didn't have the results that one, and so we're using a time in history where we should be kind of putting our heads together. To figure out. To, sadly do happening now, so it sounds I mean it sounds like you know. This is the conversation that could have happened before this by the deal, but but is potentially conversation that will happen before the next one. and. Actually what's interesting is not someone. You're known to agree that much with, but governor Cuomo has basically told localities around the state to have those conversations and to sort of start from scratch in terms of reimagining, what policing is light. In order to present plans to the state to get state funding for police department, so that conversation? Will continue on the on the increase that you just mentioned in gun violence. What are you using to be tributing it there to dislocation brought on by the pandemic and the closure of the on me basically. But, we we, we don't really know dewey. I mean we don't. We don't really know what's at the essence of this increasing gun violence. or Whenever whenever I wanted I wanNA give credit and the governor the privately, and sadly not the May maybe a little bit now he's doing some, but the government really to by surprise by actually having that discussion and I hope he brought out, so it's not just policing, but it's about public safety. But, I hope that he means what he says and puts real resources behind it. Also, it came shortly before after he told protesters will because they want so sometimes. You have to balance that out into the the. The quarterback. A. Do we really know much of anything? Increasing Its everybody tries to stay claim as they know. What one specific thing! Is, inclined to rise, and not to anybody said know for sure. You know that'd be way of that. But here's what we do not to look. Pre Pandemic. We at historical. and. I remind folks when we're dealing with the abuses. Stop Pushing. I and we heard the same thing. We're handcuffing the cops not going to do the job crumbling skyrocket, and it never happened matter of fact. We were as I mentioned historic almost. Able laws were crime especially around Gumbo of the areas that the come honest crook rights management working had even further drop in the rest of the city. And then the pandemic hit. And people were home for three months, and these same communities saw their family members dying losing their jobs. And so that has an IMPAC mental health services weren't and across the country We saw the George Floyd. We saw the beyond Taylor's We saw a lot of these things going on. and. I would have to say that that has to have an impact on a lot of the problems that we've seen gun violence. Will they even know it was low in these communities before? And so we should have anticipated that and many of us were trying to push this conversation because you knew it was coming combined with the fact that although I'll never accepted, it has to be, but in the summertime we do see increase in this in this kind of. So point any one thing might be a problem, but looking at where we were and where we are now. Something that we have to do. You say a little bit more of your sense of how this happens where there is this massive. You know. Did you also mention of course? The public health aspect of IT and thousands of people dying and the effect that that have on people, but we see that we see this massive job loss people of school all these things, but how does that? In your experience from what you know, how does that lead Dune increasing gun? Violence is at where there's young people who are sort of you know they're. They're near around, but all of a sudden. They're getting. Not all of a sudden, but you know when when things like this happen. They're getting sucked into. Gang activity true activity. Some of these things where if there's more structure happening, they're not getting sucked into those things or what what? What really happens? And you know what about I wanNA make sure that none of these things are exclusive. I can't condone excuse anyone. Picking up a fireman shooting. And not even knowing where the shooting killing killing one AOL chewed. Killing the best and the brightest teenagers. They're trying to move what this is not an excuse, and it has to be accountability for that, but if we don't. Look at the root cause. We're not doing justice to the people who are dealing with this on a daily basis. And again. I was start from. Just look at the data. Look at the communities that don't have an environment. And look the communities that do. And what you will see is structural inequity and I guarantee you any place in New York City any place in the country. You go more than likely. You will see higher rates of unemployment. You will see educational systems that are not producing the way they should be. You'll seen food insecurity. You'll see housing insecurity or be those stressors. and. You see people who don't have access to healthcare. Access to mental health. And you can do all these things as a young person. and. People make per pants, working three or four times three four jobs. or or what have structural? Safety net that exists in places where children mess up and all you know uncle, so and so is a member or something. Go over there. He lied. Lead the right direction. Those those things are not there. Then what happens. What happens to the youth? When that people have? Some places they count it someplace in that. There's way too many guns on the street. We have to talk about the flow of guns industries remarkable to me that the people who always think tough on crime means more police, a generally the people who are supporting more guns, and it's not about illegal guns, because every illegal gun was legal at some point, so we have to deal with supply and the demand, but all those things together. You look at those data points and you'll see. Gun Violence. So, let's try to address data points. And I firmly believe that we'll see the violence itself chain. We'll see the public safety looks a lot different. And I'm waiting for some data from you know some of the avenue. Because, what has been surprising? Has has been some of the victims of self have been a little older than normal from what? which again for on the underscores that? This might be. A lot more links to people have gone through a collective trauma in the past four months. What are you you? You mentioned recent comments by? Commissioner Dermot Jay who police department. Means basically said he basically said. You leaders. He didn't name names, but it has to be You know the city council and the mayor basically. Have and I think some of it attributable the state because they've railed against the bail reform as you mentioned, but he basically said that government leaders in York have messed the city up so badly. What do you make of what's happening with the mayor and Police Commissioner, and what do you think should should happen here to straighten this out? But I was trying to make sure that my word are productive. At when I speak too much, I can speak to the mayor. The compensation generally good. In between those conversations, there are things that happened that I just don't understand and we're not. We're much different than the conversation we had. Those comments were irresponsible. They weren't constructive at all. And shouldn't be said by someone who is the mission of the police department has to work with everyone and quite frankly doesn't sound like someone who. And what the mayor said he believed in and. which is really trying to change how this thing is done? and. I questioned if there's someone there. Who doesn't believe it. You know that that's a problem. FOLKSTON agreements? On that. Commissioner Neil did, but there was a belief that he believed that we have to change it. and I'm concerned more than anything. Is there that beliefs there? Because if that isn't then. All trying to go up. A hill waits on against the heavy wind. And he's pushing. In the wrong direction. Do you think the mayor needs a new police commissioner? Again, you know comments that made when. When the choice was made still staying. I think there were other capable talent other that we should looked at. Again I WANNA keep my comments constructed because we have a very long summer about I'm the happy about those comments. And if Something is off. either. The mayor has changed fully an about face. and it just owning that and isn't a different director right now. or You know and and he's misaligned with the commissioner or vice versa. Take just has to be some alignment there. However he wants to do that. It needs to do with it needs to do it quickly. Because we only be working together to get out of this. summer where where it might not. She because the hottest days are probably fun of us. In terms of temperature, and oftentimes what that means. You're. You're working right now. On diner reduced the increasing amount fifteen. Against a further increase as you said, the summer is really just getting going and we often. Increases in the summer regardless whether circumstances that might be going on at the same time. You're pushing for police reform year trying to present vision that matches the two. But. Can you add to that and talk a little bit about? You are the ink? Black citywide elected official. Obviously Eric Adams the Brooklyn Borough President. He's also been. You know, become more outspoken during these crises we basing. Both of you together, you know have appeared at some events together, but you're you know a lot separately and talk about some different things, but key talk a little bit about your perspective about the importance of black leadership in the cities or taking front and center role right now. I'll tell you. What's sad is most of the people. WHO. Have the ability to make decisions. Don't look like the communities that are most affected. And so do well to allow those. Who Look like have represented have lived in those communities. To really. Take? What's being said? And Begin to implement. You know when we have to deal with the Stop Question Frisk. For while. You know. I was one of only voices really pushing for it. on several. As I was. Leaning elected official when it came to finding a new way of. Dealing with the? helping put together a crisis manager system. And a whole bunch of pilot programs that we did that actually work. And they and they work, and if we did not try, we would not have realized that they weren't. and. It's a similar thing. As we came to the pandemic people making decisions, we're not listening to the folks who are on the ground. And who have a better connection to these communities and these communities suffer for? And Right now the community understanding that they have a right to ask for more accountability transparency, but they have a right to ask for not just police and safer streets at the same time, so we should live with that and very often. Focused! Community, asking for police. And that is oftentimes not untrue. But I always go back and say we should ask them. What else they ask for because they asked him for King's county, hospital not close their gynecologic oncology department when the black maternal mortality rate is sky high, so asking for more resources in their schools, the asking for a healthy food and asking for quality safe. How affordable housing for some reason? We're not hearing. Any of those other asks. And that is infuriated. And instead of ignoring. black leadership. But at least you'll be should brought more to the table. And taking a lot more seriously that they are. We've got just a couple last minutes with you. Public Advocates Money Williams and always appreciate you joining us. And it's good to keep having you back. So last couple questions. One just to follow up on block begging. The followed by loss perspective? You got me no. You. Can you hear okay so? I was just GonNa say we just got last two minutes. We appreciate your your time here again today. Just a follow up on that and then one other thing We saw some really divergent opinions among black leaders in the city. When it came to the city council budget. Vote Him. We had yourself opposed to the deal that was reached. We had for example council member. I'm as baron voting against it. But then we had several black council members who defended the deal and said you know we don't really believe in sort of a more radical defending of the police or shifting away from police resources. Is there a way that you sort of reconcile that is. How are you thinking about sort of some of those different approaches that we've been from black elected officials. I think I got most of it. The one I blame the mayor. The mayor presented a framework. That didn't have to be. And so he at a framework that I think it was wrong from the beginning. What we need is somebody who can provide leadership to have a conversation with all parties and balls and I don't believe that people were saying that they don't WanNa, take any funding from even the black leaders who supported the budget. By the way I, we're working with what they were present it. I don't think it was a difficult. We don't want to take any resources away. they were just some people who didn't agree with the bill, and and didn't agree with the way they're trying to be done, but if you had somebody in the second, get in there and really have conversation. There would have been a lot more lines. And so me, presenting what I presented with the powers that we have in the Charles Taylor was. It was. Saying okay if we are, we are an everybody would agree with this, so we have to refrain. Policy debates. We also can't only send the police deployed and I bet you said look. If we're going to have a hiring freeze, really gonNA, tell the city of New York. We cannot keep your cancer department open. We can't hire any new doctors any new nurses. We can't hire any new any new social workers, the only thing that we can hire the thousand new police officers. I bet you had a lot of alignment and people saying you know what? Let's either hire not high. Let's figure out some Equi. Let's figure out if we can get more than half of the summer youth jobs. and. So the divisions that were there didn't have to be, and I put a lot of that on the mayor who present a framework. That, also did not have to be, and we spend a Lotta Time With that bill, and instead of really making a deep dive like the ones that we just discussed about the police resources have how they're being used how they can be. Redeployed and what else we need in those communities. Last question and let go we've. We've had this exchange several times, but not not in a while and. Given that the New York Times ran a story about this a few weeks ago. The. Some some people clamoring for you to break your repeated sorts about running for mayor. Have you given any new thought about the possibility of running for mayor in next year's election? I'm. Always on if somebody's going to mention my name with that, they still mind boggling to me. That this this this do from Brooklyn as being mentioned. Like that baby but you know I really fast. If to do this job, I think I'm doing. These job of my plan is to ask them. To do that job again and is important to have someone who's really going to push this forward on hold. Everybody accountable during this time so right now. My plan is to just be running for reelection focusing on Kosovo now. Don't believe my own press releases and I do know there's a lot of folks who probably. Don't want. So It was great to hear. The folks that definitely vote for me. It's probably a couple of wouldn't bill All right well well. You'll keep us posted if you have any. Different thoughts on that. Sony will. All right public money lands. Thanks for the time. A! Thank you for having me and this is crushing discussions. You have on a regular basis i. really appreciate absolutely, thank you.