New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (D.) said Thursday that his city is safer and better with fewer people in jail, even as shootings and violence have spiked in the city this summer.
"We now have fewer people in our jails than any time since WWII and we are safer for it and better for it," de Blasio said.
But the city has experienced a dramatic uptick in crime this year. According to the most recent NYPD crime statistics, violent crimes—including shootings, murders, and burglaries—have all skyrocketed. Year-to-date shooting incidents in the city have increased by 61 percent, and the number of shooting victims has increased by 70 percent.
Earlier this year, thousands of prisoners were released from Rikers Island—New York City’s main jail—over fears that prisoners were at risk of spreading coronavirus, as well as calls from anti-police protesters to reform and defund police.
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New York City police commissioner Dermot Shea said the city’s police force has been "handcuffed" by recent police-reform regulations.
"You can't have the 1 percent driving agendas that have a negative impact on the 99 percent, particularly on people of color in inner cities," Shea said. "And that’s what’s happening right now."
Last month, de Blasio announced the disbanding of the NYPD's plain clothes anti-crime unit and a $1 billion cut in police funding in response to the anti-police protests.