State Assemblyman Chuck Lavine (D-Glen Cove) said that bail reform has nothing to do with the recent increase in crime in an interview with Blank Slate Media.
Lavine, 75, has been a fixture in state politics since 2005 when he was elected to represent District 13. He is running for re-election on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines.
“I’m an old New Yorker, even though I didn’t grow up here,” said Lavine. “And as an old New Yorker, I’m tough. I am not easily scared or frightened. Bail reform had absolutely nothing to do with crime rates which are occurring in all the states — states in which bail was never changed or modified whatsoever.”
Ruka Anzai, his opponent, is running on the Republican and Conservative tickets. She declined invitations to debate or take part in a one-on-one interview.
Nassau County is on track to record over 7,000 major crimes this year. That is a 34% increase from the 5,230 major crimes reported in 2021, according to Nassau County Police Department statistics.
The county reported 4,675 major crimes in the first eight months of 2022, according to statistics obtained by Blank Slate Media under a Freedom of Information Law request submitted to county police. This accounts for nearly 90% of the total major crimes reported county-wide in 2021.
Lavine said that despite this rise, the state remains “relatively safe” because of its tough gun laws.
“There are increases in crimes that are property crimes. Stolen automobiles, stolen catalytic converters. That sort of criminal conduct is too high,” he said. “And I am sure that we will return to Albany in January and we will consider what has to be done to try to put an end to that. But bail reform had absolutely nothing to do with it.”
New York’s bail reform laws went into effect in January 2020, with modifications passed in April the same year. State officials said the amended laws eliminated pretrial detention and optional cash bail in an estimated 90% of cases.
Opponents argue the reforms allow criminals to repeatedly commit crimes and result in many failing to appear in court. Yet, while controversial, the actions have not resulted in significant changes in rearrest rates, the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services reported in September.
“If someone is out without bail and commits another crime, they are taken to a judge,” said Lavine. “And the judge has an awful lot of discretion with respect to setting bail on that person.”
Lavine said the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the rise in crime as many could not work, so they began committing crimes.
But he said that addressing crime must begin at the source. This includes promoting programs that help underdeveloped areas. In addition, it means increasing the number of officers in areas where crimes most often occur.
Lavine also addressed criticisms leveled at him and other Democrats for allegedly calling for the defunding of the police. He said he is unaware of anyone in the state government who has made such a request.
“As a matter of fact, Gov. Hochul is providing record amounts of funding for police services and additional police services,” he said. “And in my own case, I’ve just gotten $250 million for new squad cars for the Glen Cove Police Department.”
Lavine was referring to Hochul announcing new initiatives to strengthen interagency enforcement in high-theft areas and legislation to combat catalytic converter heists earlier this month. She said that $20 million will be available to assist local police departments and sheriff’s offices.
“Here’s my observation: if anybody should have been in favor of bail reform, it should have been many of my Republican political colleagues,” joked Lavine, “who ended up being in front of judges any number of times over the course of the last few years.”
One can view the interview on Blank Slate Media’s YouTube channel.