Metro

NYPD boss Keechant Sewell says bail reform law ‘needs to change’

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New York State’s bail reform law — which has allowed dangerous criminals back on the streets — “absolutely” needs to change, NYPD’s top cop said in a new interview.

Commissioner Keechant Sewell joined a chorus of elected officials who have called for more restrictive bail laws following the reforms which eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanor and non-violent felonies.

“The criminal justice reform law that took effect in 2020, I think, that is definitely part of the thinking that needs to change,” she said on “The Cats Roundtable,” hosted by John Catsimatidis.

“We can keep most of the important elements of the reform, but there are absolutely some things that need to be adjusted.”

Sewell also appeared to decry the decriminalization of quality-of-life crimes, such as turnstile jumping, marijuana usage and boozing in public.

“There are entire categories of serious crimes that we can no longer make an arrest for. We can only issue a summons,” Sewell said on WABC 770.

NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell, at a press briefing at Police Headquarters in Manhattan.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell lamented how judges no longer have “discretion” to set bail for repeat offenders.
William Farrington

“We have used discretion in the past. Now, we don’t even have that.”

She continued, “There are entire categories of crime where we can make an arrest, but … the judges are legally prohibited from ever setting bail — even if the same burglar or car thief commits the same crime every day and ends up in front of the same judge. They used to have that discretion, and in many cases we don’t have that anymore.”

NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell,
Mayor Eric Adams appointed Keechant Sewell as NYPD commissioner as part of his plan to tackle New York City’s crime issues.
William Farrington

Sewell’s comments echo those from her boss, Mayor Eric Adams, who has also been urging Albany lawmakers to tweak the reform law they passed in 2019. The legislation, which also changed discovery laws, was rolled back in 2020 to add to the list of crimes for which bail could be set.

Adams wants New York judges to be allowed to consider the “dangerousness” of a defendant when deciding whether to hold them on bail or release them from custody.

But Democratic state legislative leaders from both the state Assembly and Senate have signaled they won’t act on Adams’ preference, repeatedly rejecting the mayor’s requests. And Gov. Kathy Hochul in January also slapped down renewed calls to give judges the power to keep pre-trial suspects they deem dangerous behind bars.

Two months later, a source told The Post that Hochul wants to address the no-cash bail law as part of the state budget after a series of high-profile cases in which people were released without bail and break the law again.

Sewell also used her Sunday radio appearance to give a boost to her rank-and-file, touting more than 4,500 gun arrests made last year — while brushing off the idea that cops are “phoning it in.”

Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul. Friday, February 18, 2022
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell claims her officers are working hard as proven by making 4,500 gun arrests in 2021.
Paul Martinka

“The most dangerous thing our officers do is to go after somebody with a gun. They do it every single day. And when someone does get out, it is very frustrating,” she said. “But we are making the largest number of arrests over the last two years that we’ve seen in over a quarter of a century.”

“Our officers, they are answering the calls, they’re helping people, they are engaging the public in their homes, in the streets, and on the transit system,” the police commissioner added. “I greet them on patrol. I know our cops are engaged. Don’t let anyone tell you that because of morale or criticism or bad laws our cops are mailing it in, because they are not. They are not phoning it in at all. They are out there helping New Yorkers every single day and night.”

Sewell’s interview comes a day before the first wave of the NYPD’s new anti-gun units is will hit the streets, following a delay in the start of a key pillar of Adams’ crime-fighting plan.

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