By Anthony M. Destefano Newsday
NEW YORK — The NYPD’s top uniformed cop on Wednesday acknowledged a drop in arrests since the firing of Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Eric Garner case but said the decrease was mainly for misdemeanor crimes and officers would keep the city safe for the West Indian Day Parade over the Labor Day weekend.
Chief Terence Monahan said NYPD commanders had seen the decline in arrests in the week after Pantaleo was fired, and the Police Benevolent Association called for officers to work by the book and not risk discipline or legal liability.
But Monahan, during a news media briefing about security for the parade and the related J’ouvert celebration, said officers continued to go after serious crimes and had made gun arrests.
“When we look at the crimes that involved violence, they are doing their jobs,” Monahan said of NYPD officers. “Gun arrests are still the same as they were the week before.”
“Our cops are out there. They are dedicated to the people of this city. This is their neighborhood too, so they are not going to allow the city to ever return to what it was,” said Monahan, referring to the crime-ridden New York City of the early 1990s.
Although Monahan didn’t cite any statistics, a look at the latest NYPD data showed a mixed picture citywide in arrests in the week since the dismissal of Pantaleo. Commissioner James O'Neill fired Pantaleo on Aug. 19 for using a chokehold on Garner while attempting to arrest the Staten Island man in July 2014. Overall, major felony arrests for crimes such as homicide, rape, burglary and grand larceny were down for the week ending Aug. 25 by nearly 15 percent compared with the previous week
In terms of transit and housing offenses, arrests dropped 53.2 percent and 19.7 percent respectively for the week, while gun arrests dropped about 5 percent for the week of Aug. 25, the data showed.
In terms of the parade and the J’ouvert celebration, which will take place in the early hours of Sept. 2, Monahan said security preparations were much the same as last year. There will be 13 secure entry and screening points to the J’ouvert route and thousands of officers on duty. Alcohol, guns, large bags and marijuana are prohibited, Monahan noted.
The PBA went after O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio again Wednesday for the Pantaleo firing when it announced that the union’s delegate assembly unanimously approved resolutions of “no confidence” for both officials.
In a statement, NYPD spokesman Phil Walzak said O’Neill has said that “his heart and soul are with the NYPD, and he is honored to lead this department as it continues to drive crime to historically low levels.”