I love people who have their heads in the sand, don’t want to face REALITY, complain about crime yet does not want NYPD to do “too much” and/or scream “racism” or “selective enforcement” when NYPD targets high crime communities, like Jamaica.
This is the most ridiculous bullshit I hear from communities of color. Let’s break this down in simplistic terms as a Test.
One community (let’s use Forest Hills) has a low crime rate, one murder in the past few years, no shootings and their bodegas are not selling loose cigarettes, not selling beer/cigarettes to minors, not using the storefront for selling drugs and does not have young men handing out in the dozens in front 24/7 applying their drug trade.
Second community (let’s use Jamaica) has a high crime rate, at least a dozen shootings/murders just this year alone, many bodegas like Merrick Deli at the SW corner of Merrick Blvd and 109th Ave, which has at least a dozen men at any given time hanging out front involved in shady shit or 108 Gourmet Deli (really that is the fucking name of this ghetto bodega) at the SW corner of Guy Brewer & 108th Ave (which was shut down two years ago for selling drugs and is now back open), which has the same bullshit as the other bodega and countless other ones in the area.
Now, which area is going to have more police presence at certain areas and which one will involve Nuisance Abatement? NOW THINK HARD, DON’T RUSH. If you said, the first one, you are just plain fucking stupid. If you said, they both should be treated the same, you are ghetto, but if you choose #2, then you are dealing in reality.
TEST OVER. Not everything is racist and not everything can be treated exactly the same. You don’t fish for Marlin with a trout fishing pole.
So why is the community with the most problems the one that constantly complains of unfairness when it comes to police patrol, yet tolerates all kinds of bullshit. Here is a suggestion, start cleaning up your community, start filing complains on a regular basis when you see nonsense and stop putting up with bullshit and that includes from crooked and useless elected officials. And when Fuhrer de Blasio makes a rare appearance in Jamaica at a church asking for prayers, tell him to fuck off and walk down to the Merrick Deli or the 108 Gourmet Deli or any other wonderful corners of this community.
In a recent series in the Daily News, the NYPD civil enforcement unit stands accused of “selectively” enforcing nuisance abatement laws by targeting minority communities; of closing businesses without due process, and generally abusing our power to bring civil actions against locations where persistent criminal activity occurs.
The series seemed intent on discrediting the nuisance abatement law, one of the more useful crimefighting tools of the past 20 years. New Yorkers should know that nuisance abatement is working for them , abating crime problems that had previously seemed to be intractable.
Perhaps the law should be renamed the Nuisance/Crime Abatement Law, because crime control is what the NYPD uses it for. Our civil enforcement unit is focused on using civil law to target criminal conduct — not people of any particular racial or ethnic group and not randomly selected neighborhoods. We are indeed selectively enforcing this law, but we are selecting the residences, stores and other premises on the basis of where criminal activity is occurring, as reported by citizen complaints, police observations and other sources.
People who allow their premises to be used to deal drugs or run brothels will find these locations the subject of civil action, as will local businesses that sell alcohol and box cutters to minors, traffic in untaxed or bootleg cigarettes and the dangerous drug K2, or allow their premises to be used for the sale of stolen merchandise.
The point of these actions is to stop illegal activity from occurring. We can do this by bringing a civil lawsuit and using the possibility of closure and fines to exact concessions from a landlord, tenant or building owner. Many crime and disorder problems are directly tied to certain locations and have proven relatively impervious to the traditional police sanctions of arrest and summons. Using civil laws to deny criminals the use of their bases can have an immediate impact on chronic problems that plague neighborhoods.
In many instances, the location is never actually ordered closed, and the commencement of the civil action causes the people involved to agree to take the actions to address the underlying, festering problems. In the seven commercial cases cited in a recent article by The News, only one was ever subject to a shutdown.
The respondents in these actions are not being denied due process. Similar to the application for a search warrant, the initial steps of a civil enforcement action are closed to the subject of the action. However, the application receives a thorough review by the New York City Law Department and a state Supreme Court justice. After notice, the respondents can make their case before the authorizing judge within three days. The fact is that they often do not prevail in these proceedings, or even choose to challenge the actions, due to the overwhelming evidence of the alleged activity as presented in the civil proceedings.
Nuisance abatement has been at the forefront of efforts against citywide crime problems, including the sale of K2 and other illegal drugs; theft and fencing of auto parts and copper cables from the transit system, as well as the substantial illicit market for stolen cell phones and electronic devices. It has been invoked to help drive out trespassers who were selling drugs and running a prostitution ring in a hurricane-damaged house in Howard Beach, Queens. It closed an illegal social club on Staten Island that was the scene of a fatal shooting and an apartment in East New York. Brooklyn, that housed persistent drug activity and violence.
The list goes on: a grocery store where cocaine was hidden on top of ice cream in a freezer accessible to children; an apartment where a man sold drugs with his children and mother present, and a motel used for prostitution and human trafficking. In neighborhood after neighborhood, the NYPD is using nuisance abatement to improve the lives of all New Yorkers.
Back in 1995, a few years after the civil enforcement unit was founded, it won the Innovations in Government Award from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. We have been refining its work to improve its fairness and effectiveness, reducing case processing times and coordinating with the Housing Authority to ensure that we are targeting the right people in the right places. We are improving the unit’s information technology to provide better case tracking. We have developed a handbook to help licensed clubs avoid civil actions, and we will be producing a similar guide for stores to help them understand the importance of complying with the various laws and regulations that often lead to enforcement measures.
The NYPD has no desire or intent to target legitimate businesses or tenants. On the contrary, civil enforcement is an effective way to protect law-abiding people from those bad actors who blight their neighborhoods with destructive illegal activity.
Bratton is New York police commissioner.