Major crimes increased 75% in the first three months of the year in Nassau County, according to the Nassau County Police Department, but the response from officials on both sides of the aisle has been a deafening silence.
County police reported that 1,662 major crimes were committed throughout Nassau County from Jan. 1 to March 31, up from 950 crimes during the same time frame last year.
In Nassau’s Third and Sixth precincts, which make up a majority of North Shore communities, 645 major crimes occurred during the three-month span this year, compared to 333 last year, an increase of 93%.
Those are large increases so we wonder why they were met with silence by county officials.
Not one official commented on the surge in crime in Nassau County.
Not County Executive Bruce Blakeman. Not Police Commissioner Pat Ryder. Not county Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello. Not Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams.
No one said anything about the rising threat to public safety in Nassau County, why it was occurring and what was being done, if anything, to combat it.
It is true that violent crimes such as murder and rape in Nassau County remained low with just incidents of each and by far the largest driver of the increase was stolen vehicles, rising from 85 to 302, a surge of more than 255%
But assault felony did rise 34% from 79 to 106.
The silence of Republican county officials is especially notable since Blakeman and the other GOP candidates for countywide office swept into office in November with campaigns focused on a statewide increase in crime that they blamed on reforms to bail passed by a Democratic-controlled state Legislature.
One Blakeman television ad played throughout the campaign raised fears by claiming an increase in the number of guns fired in the county without citing the basis of his claim.
Guns fired are not a category listed on the county’s website, so we’d be interested in the source for his claim.
During the campaign, Blakeman also downplayed Nassau being called the safest county in the country for the second year in a row by U.S. News & World Report. He said he questioned the magazine’s methodology.
This is also a major fiscal issue. Nassau County spends $1,148 per capita on police and fire protection while the national median is $359, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Since being elected county executive, Blakeman has been a leader of those seeking the repeal of what they have called cashless bail. This has included joining a dozen GOP leaders at the state capital to blast Democrats and paint New York’s bail laws as a boon for repeat offenders.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Pat Ryder reported in July 2021 when Democrat Laura Curran was county executive that in the areas covered by county police crime had decreased by more than 10 percent over the previous year.
Since 2011, Ryder said at the time, major crime in Nassau County had fallen by 36 percent. A decade ago Nassau saw 7,191 reports of major crime compared with 4,983 last year, Ryder said.
But Ryder, who was reappointed by Blakeman, has said nothing publicly about Nassau County’s crime statistics since July – even as he has joined Blakeman in calling for a rollback of bail reform.
It took the county until May 11 to release the crime statistics for the year ending in 2021 in response to a Freedom of Information Law request by Blank Slate Media. The last information listed on its website was in October 2021 – when Curran was still county executive.
Blank Slate Media has made several requests to Nassau County police for monthly crime numbers for 2022 in recent months. The county has yet to respond
With no public notice, the county police recently posted the numbers for January to March – without offering a monthly breakdown or the 2021 numbers.
By contrast, New York City issues press releases every month detailing its crime rate – even during a period when they showed large increases across the board.
The city’s latest report, issued for May, showed an overall increase in crime of 27.8% but offered good news.
The number of overall shooting incidents had declined for the second month in a row with a decrease of 31.4% from 172 to 118 in May.
Keechant L. Sewell, Nassau County’s former chief of detectives who became New York City’s first black police commissioner in December, offered her explanation for the reduction in shootings.
“We have pointed every resource we have at reducing gun violence in this city. We have seen seven straight weeks of shootings going down – and that is not a coincidence,” said Sewell. “We are using an intelligence-led approach and gun arrests are being made in numbers we haven’t seen in almost 30 years, but we understand that we have to be relentless because lives depend on it.”
Unsurprisingly, New York City Mayor Eric Adams slammed the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to overturn a century-old New York law that placed strict restrictions on carrying concealed firearms in public.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision may have opened an additional river that is going to feed the sea of gun violence in our city and in our nation,” he said.
By contrast, Blakeman was non-committal in his response, saying he personally believes in every American having the right to bear arms, but said “reasonable restrictions” are important as well.
Blakeman and Ryder have also offered no explanation for Nassau not releasing county crime statistics monthly or telling the public what they intend to do about it.
Did the increase in crime continue in Nassau in March and April? Did it decrease? Did it stay the same?
Does the county know the answer? If so, why aren’t they saying? And where are the Democratic legislators? Do they know and aren’t saying? Or perhaps they don’t know and don’t care?
Unlike Adams, Blakeman has focused almost exclusively on the state’s bail reform laws in explaining the rise in crime in New York.
In the beginning of 2020. Blakeman signed an executive order that cited a need to “increase transparency by disclosing in daily reports the pending criminal case data and bail status of those rearrested.” Not weekly, not monthly. Daily.
The order said more than 2,000 repeat offenders across the state were arrested for a violent felony while another case was pending. More than 400 of those repeat offenders were rearrested for a violent felony involving a firearm, according to the executive order.
Ryder said in January that the county’s Police Department reported 13 gun arrests in the several weeks following the new year, with six of the defendants released on cashless bail.
Others, he said, were given ankle bracelets to be monitored by police and then released on cashless bail.
The six cases Ryder mentioned involved individuals being charged with possession of a loaded firearm, a bail-eligible offense. In those cases, the individuals charged seem to have been released without bail at the judges’ discretion.
The near-exclusive focus on bail reform to explain the rise in crime in New York in 2022 has several problems.
The first is that crime has also increased across the country in places that did not change their bail laws.
The second is that New York’s bail laws, which imprisoned tens of thousands of mostly black and brown people because they could not afford bail, were first changed in January 2020. The reform was botched by the state Legislature, which allowed cashless bail for too many crimes and did not give judges enough discretion.
But the bail reform laws were amended in May 2020 and again in April 2022 to reduce the number of crimes in which cashless bail was permitted and giving judges more discretion.
The main remaining criticism is that judges were not allowed to consider the “dangerousness” of the person.
So if bail reform was the culprit, one would expect the largest increase in crime would have occurred in 2020 when bail laws were the most lenient and that crime would go down in 2011 when the laws were tightened and in 2022 after they were tightened again.
Blakeman cited the need for transparency in releasing data disclosing in daily reports the pending criminal case data and bail status of those rearrested.
He should make Nassau’s crime statistics just as transparent by releasing them monthly and offer an explanation of why crime has surged under his watch and what he intends to do about it