NYC Mayoral Candidate Dianne Morales at the Barclays Center following the Derek Chauvin Verdict. Photo by Jahlil Rush

NYC Mayoral Candidates take on different approaches to police reform

This Daily Planet op-ed argues that progressive mayoral candidates' positions on Public Safety is the correct way to handle crime in New York City.

3 mins read

It is true that crime is on the rise in New York City during both the height of the pandemic and in its aftermath. Public safety is a top priority for the 2021 New York City Mayoral Candidates but only the progressive candidates are presenting solutions that can help lower the city’s increasing crime wave.

The 2021 NYC Mayoral Race has brought out candidates that have presented bold new ideas that some have criticized as ideals that lean too far left of the democratic party. The progressive candidates, though they have aquired their left leaning base, are having a hard time capturing the hearts of all New Yorkers.

However, It is shocking that the poll numbers do not match the donation numbers. Yang is the highest in donations to his campaign, capturing the hearts of voters who live in large Othodox, Jewish and Asian communities like Borough Park, Brooklyn and Flushing, Queens, the New York Times reports. Dianne Morales’ donation numbers are behind Yang’s with Hispanic neighborhoods, including Hunts Point in the Bronx, Bushwick, Brooklyn and Ridgewood, Queens all rallying behind her.

According to a poll from PIX11/Emerson College, it is the moderates that seem to be gaining momentum in the race. Kathryn Garcia, who once held the position of New York City Sanitation Commissioner in 2014, is leading in the polls followed by her moderate rivals, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Andrew Yang.

Morales has recently been dealing with a campaign scandal involving her own workers, so any chance she has at securing the nomination may have just imploded. But people should not ignore her proposed policies on public safety. Morales and Maya Wiley are two candidates that understand and highlight the issues behind New York City’s downfall, that has occurred long before COVID, while also presenting solutions.

It is true that Morales has called for ideas such as defunding the New York Police Department but it is important to look behind her idea in terms of what she would do with the funding. She wants to use $3 billion of the NYPD’s annual budget to combat mental health, a sickness that plagues black and brown communities on an everyday basis. Morales’ progressive rival wants to invest in communities by divesting $1 billion of the NYPD budget and shifting the money towards communities that need it. 

Maya Wiley is calling for $1 billion of the NYPD’s budget to fund alternatives to policing. Wiley wants to ensure that the money is being placed in the right areas. Wiley is calling for a full audit of the NYPD’s budget in an effort to determine how funding is being distributed.

Mayoral Candidate Maya Wiley at a rally in Brooklyn following the Verdict of Derek Chauvin. Photo by Jahlil Rush

Eric Adams is tone deaf to the current times when the topic of policing is brought up. He is running off the idea that more cops are the answer to solving the city’s current crime problem. He running on the premise that because he used to be a former New York Police Department Captain then he understands where the NYPD needs to be reformed. But some of his public safety proposals is far from perfect.

 Eric Adams (center) speaking at a press conference on the steps of City Hall, 2008. Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For starters, he against the idea of removing Cops from schools in an effort to end the school to prison pipeline. He does not want to end the NYPD’s homelessness outreach even though the police has a history of police brutality towards our homeless population and criminalizing homeless people for drug addiction, turnstile hopping and sleeping on the subway.

Adams uses his own origin story of how he was the victim of police brutality to advocate for more police in some of New York City’s diverse neighborhood.

Adams’ run for mayor is proving to be a dangerous one. He tricks liberal voters by speaking to their fantasies of wanting to create a more diverse police force in an effort to curb racism and the violence that follows.

Unfortunately, Andrew Yang is not a best alternative when it comes to tackling police reform. Yang is against decreasing the NYPD’s budget. Instead, he is calling for the NYPD to be reorganized. He wants to increase funding for mental health responses.

Andrew Yang speaking with the media at the 2019 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Gage Skidmore

Yang deserves credit when he states that the NYPD does not have the skills to properly handle cases involving mental health. Cases like the death of Walter Wallace Jr, a young Black man who dealt with mental health complications that was shot by the police, should never happen again.

No parent, like Walter’s father,  should have to ask “Why didn’t they use a taser?” Police Officers do not have the proper tools to handle mental cases and their options are the guns strapped to their uniforms. They have tasers but when in the moment of action, cops seem to forget about it.

New York has gone through quite a year including back to back summer protests for racial justice, a global health crisis, and a presidential election full of empty promises. The idea of a “moderate democrat,” like Kathryn Garcia or Eric Adams, taking office only proves that New York will only remain as a traditional democrat stronghold instead of a progresssive one.

Jahlil Rush

Aspiring Journalist and Communications Coordinator

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