While Mayor de Blasio has achieved success, faced opposition and registered failures on many issues during his first term, none played as large a role in his becoming mayor—or posed greater political risks through his tenure so far—as criminal justice. Below are just a few of the developments that defined the dramatic and sometimes tragic trajectory of law and order under the mayor. Read our analysis of his record so far here.
October 6, 2003
Councilman Bill de Blasio calls for park enforcement officers to be placed under NYPD command: “When any unit is put under the NYPD, it changes the entire atmosphere,” said de Blasio. “It leads to a much more vigorous response.”
August 5, 2009
City Councilman Bill de Blasio backs bills to overhaul the Civilian Complaint Review Board, including one that would give the CCRB the power to prosecute and initiate its own cases.
April 2, 2012
“I believe that the NYPD is currently limiting its work to the pursuit of specific leads and that there is a substantial legal review process connected to those decisions,” de Blasio says as he backs NYPD surveillance practices that some have said unfairly targeted Muslims.
July 16, 2010
De Blasio is on hand as Gov. David Paterson signs law banning cops from keeping a data base of the names of people they stop.
May 2, 2011
De Blasio writes to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly demanding a full accounting of the ticket-fixing scandal. In a retort, sergeants’ union head Ed Mullins says in a letter to the Daily News: “He is using baseless accusations to justify his existence in a job that historically serves no purpose and should have been eliminated by budget cuts a long time ago.”
November 15, 2011
De Blasio criticizes Mayor Bloomberg for ordering the police raid on the Occupy Wall Street encampment.
February 1, 2012
De Blasio demands a quick investigation into the police killing of Ramarley Graham.
May 9, 2012
De Blasio releases report critical of stop and frisk.
June 18, 2012
De Blasio takes part in silent march against stop and frisk.
January 11, 2013
De Blasio announces he supports a City Council bill to create an inspector general for the NYPD.
January 27, 2013
De Blasio announces he will run for mayor.
June 27, 2013
The City Council passes bills creating an NYPD inspector general and creating new protections against profiling.
August 12, 2013
District Judge Shira Scheindlin finds NYPD’s use of stop and frisk to be unconstitutional
August 8, 2013
De Blasio announces that, if elected, he will drop the city’s appeal of the summer’s stop-and-frisk ruling
November 3, 2013
In an editorial endorsing de Blasio for Mayor, the Daily News warns: “Nothing must focus the mayoral mind more than daily crime statistics and the NYPD’s terror-threat assessments. They bear the awful truth that lives are at stake, and with them the quality of life and prosperity.”
November 5, 2013
De Blasio wins election as the 109th mayor of New York City with 73 percent of the vote.
December 5, 2013
The mayor-elect announces that Bill Bratton, a former commissioner and one of the best known law-enforcement executives in the country, will return to head the NYPD.
De Blasio is inaugurated at City Hall. Speaker Harry Belafonte says, “Changing the stop-and-frisk law is … only the tip of the iceberg in fixing our deeply Dickensian justice system.”
January 15, 2014
De Blasio announces the Vision Zero initiative, which includes an NYPD crackdown on dangerous drivers.
The Right to Know Act, a set of proposals to increase police transparency, is introduced in the City Council.
April 6, 2014
Officer Dennis Guerra dies responding to a fire set deliberately at an apartment building in Coney Island. His partner is critically injured.
April 22, 2014
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito calls for 1,000 more cops. De Blasio resists the move.
June 26, 2014
The Council passes a bill creating the IDNYC, but at the insistence of the NYPD it includes a controversial provision requiring retention of documents until December 31, 2016. (This will later create the grounds for a lawsuit blocking the destruction of those documents by Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis amid fears of an immigration crackdown by President Trump.)
June 30, 2014
The New York Post reports: “Blood drenched the city’s streets Saturday night into Sunday during the deadliest spate of shootings since Mayor de Blasio took office.”
July 17, 2014
Eric Garner is killed on Staten Island, his death is caught on video.
July 31, 2014
De Blasio sits between Rev. Al Sharpton and Bratton at a discussion at City Hall in the wake of the Garner killing. The encounter is, to say the least, awkward and the move was scene as a tactical blunder by the mayor.
The U.S. attorney issues a scathing report on conditions at Rikers Island.
August 9, 2014
In an event that will frame national politics around policing, race and violence for de Blasio and other leaders, Michael Brown is killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.
August 27, 2014
The head of the sergeants’ union takes out a full page ad discouraging the Democratic National Committee from selecting New York for its next convention, warning that crime is resurgent.
September 21, 2014
Officer Michael Williams is killed and eight other officers injured in vehicle accident.
November 10, 2014
City Hall announces a plan to end arrests for low-level possession of marijuana.
November 14, 2014
De Blasio signs bills restricting police and jail system cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agents.
November 20, 2014
Akai Gurley is killed in the stairwell of a Brooklyn NYCHA building.
Another incident from beyond the city’s borders: Tamir Rice is shot by police in Cleveland. The 12-year-old dies the next day. This adds to the growing calls for fundamental police reform.
December 2, 2014
Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan says a grand jury has decided not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the cop who put his arm around Garner’s neck in the attack that caused the man’s death. Reacting to the news, de Blasio talks about discussing with this son the possibility of a dangerous encounter with the police.
A massive, mostly peaceful march takes place to protest police violence after the Garner non-indictment. Cell-phone video later emerges of a splinter group breaking off from the main march and chanting what sounds like “What do we want? Dead cops.” Another group of protestors fights with officers on the Brooklyn Bridge.
December 18, 2014
The U.S. attorney sues the city over conditions on Rikers Island.
December 20, 2014
Officers Rafael Ramos and Wen Jian Liu are killed in Brooklyn. Cops gathered at the hospital turn their backs on Mayor de Blasio. Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch says “there is bloody on many hands” and indicates that de Blasio bears some responsibility for the deaths.
Many officers turn their backs on the mayor at Ramos’s funeral
January 5, 2014
De Blasio and Bratton discuss 2014 crime statistics, including a 4.6 percent drop in the number of murders.
January 6, 2015
New York Post: “NYPD data showed a 55 percent spike in homicides during the final weeks of 2014.”
January 7, 2015
Reports surface of an NYPD work slowdown, apparently done out of anger toward the mayor over the two officers’ deaths.
February 26, 2015
De Blasio announces a tentative contract with the sergeants’ union. Along with deals he’s struck with the lieutenants, detectives and superior officers’ unions, de Blasio has now brought four of the five police unions under new contracts. The PBA remains outstanding.
April 4, 2015
Another national headline: Walter Scott is shot by police in South Carolina.
April 22, 2015
De Blasio defends “broken windows” policing and expresses skepticism about the Council plan to decriminalize some minor crimes.
The NYPD launches Neighborhood Coordination Officers in four precincts, the start of a new take on community policing.
May 2, 2015
Officer Brian Moore is shot in the head and killed during a confrontation in Queens.
May 31, 2015
New York Post: “A surge in New York City murders – including four people slain in just five bloody hours as the weekend began – has grieving family members begging Mayor de Blasio to bring back the NYPD’s right to search for guns.”
June 2, 2015
New York Post: “Just how many New Yorkers must die before Mayor de Blasio lets cops bring back stop-and-frisk?
June 6, 2015
Khalief Browder, the subject of an earlier New Yorker story on the horrors of Rikers, commits suicide.
June 22, 2015
Under pressure by Council leadership and, according to reports, Bratton and amid an uptick in crime, de Blasio agrees to add 1,300 cops to budget.
June 22, 2015
The city settles with the U.S. Justice Department over Rikers, promising an action plan to address problems there.
July 17, 2015
Marshall Project founder Neil Barsky calls in a New York Times op-ed for the city to Close Rikers.
August 6, 2015
De Blasio unveils NYC Safe, a mental-health initiative with a focus on policing.
September 4, 2015
After a summer of bad tabloid press about homeless encampments, the NYPD launches a multi-site “clean up.”
September 9, 2015
Retired tennis star James Blake is tackled outside a Midtown hotel by a cop who mistook him for a crime suspect.
The New York Post: “Mayor de Blasio wants New Yorkers to think they needn’t worry about crime spiking. The facts suggest otherwise.”
October 20, 2015
Officer Randolph Holder is killed in a Harlem shootout.
October 23, 2015
In the wake of Holder’s death, the mayor calls for public safety to be a consideration in the decision of whether and at what amount to set bail.
November 5, 2015
In a move that seems chiefly designed to embarrass the mayor, Gov. Cuomo boosts the New York State Police presence in New York City.
January 4, 2016
Bratton and de Blasio discusses the 2015 year-end crime statistics, which show an overall decline in offenses but jumps in murder, rape and robbery.
January 12, 2016
The mayor announces Project FastTrack, an initiative to try to generate more guilty verdicts in gun possession cases.
The mayor agrees to a City Council plan to decriminalize certain low-level offenses.
February 11, 2016
Speaker Mark-Viverito appoints the Lippman Commission to explore the possible closing of Rikers Island. De Blasio is dismissive of the closure idea.
April 8, 2016
The mayor announces a bail alternative program.
April 27, 2016
Nearly 700 cops and federal agents conduct what some called “the largest gang bust in modern city history.”
June 21, 2016
Three NYPD officials are busted in a corruption inquiry linked to controversial de Blasio donor Jona Rechnitz.
June 28, 2016
NYPD inspector general releases a report casting doubt on the notion that policing low-level offenses reduces more serious crime.
July 5, 2016
A cascade of deadly police-civilian encounters outside New York City begins. Alton Scott is killed by police in Baton Rouge, La. Eleven days later, Gavin Long shoots six cops in Baton Rouge, killing three of them.
July 6, 2016
Philandro Castille is killed in St. Anthony, Minn.
July 7, 2016
Firing at officers patrolling a protest against police violence in Dallas, Micah Xavier Johnson shoots 12 cops, killing five.
July 13, 2016
News reports emerge from a closed-door Council meeting the week before at which Mark-Viverito announces the Right to Know Act won’t come up for a vote and instead its provisions will be imposed internally by the NYPD.
August 1, 2016
Bronx assemblyman Michael Blake says a cop roughed him up after he tried to defuse a street confrontation.
August 2, 2016
De Blasio and Bratton announce the expansion of neighborhood policing program to 51 percent of commands citywide
August 2, 2016
Bratton announces his retirement and Chief of Department James O’Neill is tapped to replace him.
The Daily News editorial board: “We were wrong: Ending stop and frisk did not end stopping crime.”
September 7, 2016
The NYPD responds to the IG’s report with its own research extolling the virtues of broken windows policing.
September 17, 2016
A bomb goes off in the Chelsea neighborhood and another device is found nearby. The two bombs are linked to other incidents in the New York-New Jersey areas. On the 19th, the suspected bomber is captured after a shootout with cops in Linden, N.J.
October 18, 2016
An emotionally disturbed woman named Deborah Danner is shot and killed by a police sergeant in the Bronx who claims she menaced him with a baseball bat. De Blasio denounces the shooting and the cop is later charged with murder.
November 4, 2016
Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo is killed responding to a hostage standoff.
December 6, 2016
The Legal-Aid Society files a lawsuit over the de Blasio administration’s unusually restrictive approach to the release of police disciplinary records
January 4, 2017
O’Neill and de Blasio release the year-end 2016 crime statistics, which include indications of the lowest number of shootings since records were kept.
January 5, 2017
The Post comes around: “Proving yet again that smart policing makes a huge difference, the NYPD in 2016 delivered record lows in crime—continuing a decades-long local trend even as other major US cities lost ground. The numbers are stunning:”
January 31, 2017
The mayor and PBA reach agreement on a tentative contract covering 2012-2017.
February 10, 2017
De Blasio and Comptroller Scott Stringer clash over a contract for police body cameras.
March 7, 2017
NYPD agrees to broader oversight of intelligence operations as it tries to settle a lawsuit over alleged spying on Muslims.
March 31, 2017
Two days before the Lippman Panel is expected to call for its closure, the mayor switches positions and announces he supports putting the city on a 10-year timetable for closing Rikers.
Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte resigns after a scandal involving the use of city vehicles and paid work time for trips to Maine.
May 12, 2017
The mayor unveils a $90 million program to reduce low-level arrests for people with behavioral health needs.
May 22, 2017
NYPD commissioner James O’Neill says he won’t march in Puerto Rican Day parade honoring militant Oscar Lopez Rivera.
June 2, 2017
The mayor and Council reach agreement on a FY2018 budget but do not resolve their disagreement over funding lawyers for indigent New Yorkers facing deportation who have convictions for one of the 170 crimes not covered by city laws limiting cooperation with ICE. Later, private donors provide funds to cover the cost of the lawyers the mayor didn’t want to finance.
July 5, 2017
Officer Miosotis Familia is killed as she sits in an NYPD vehicle on a Bronx street. De Blasio receives intense criticism for his decision to leave the city later that week for a speech in Germany.
July 19, 2017
Data from the CCRB indicate the NYPD is slowing disciplinary cases down by challenging the review board’s findings.
July 27, 2017
Malliotakis, now a candidate for mayor, says a Rikers escape attempt earlier that week shows why the jail must remain there.
July 31, 2017
Police kill Dwayne Jeune in East Flatbush after, they say, he charged them with a knife. The mayor resists calls for a task force to look into how the NYPD handles encounters with emotionally disturbed people.
August 1, 2017
De Blasio announces “the school year just ended, the 2016-17 school year, was the safest on record in the history of New York City.”
August 3, 2017
The city announces that violence dropped significantly in July compared with earlier years. Says the Daily News: “The NYPD has credited its precision policing philosophy, which focuses on known criminals who are often responsible for multiple crimes.”
September 6, 2017
Police kill knife-wielding Miguel Richards in the first fatal NYPD shooting to be captured by officers’ body cameras.
September 8, 2017
Legal-Aid releases data showing a persistent racial skew in NYPD arrests for marijuana use.
September 27, 2017
A student stabs two classmates, killing one, at a Bronx high school.
October 3, 2017
De Blasio announces a significant decrease in crime in September compared with one year earlier.
Malliotakis highlights the rise in some crimes under Mayor de Blasio during the first general election mayoral debate.
October 13, 2017
The de Blasio campaign unveils an ad highlighting his progress reducing crime and improving police community relations.