Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss said bail reform was one of the issues that led him to call on state lawmakers to make changes after the burial of NYPD Officer Wilbert Mora.
Mora and his partner Jason Rivera were killed in Harlem in the line of duty last month.
At a Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 2, Strauss said enough is enough.
“How many more innocent people, people like you and me who for whatever reason take a chance and go into the city only to be robbed, assaulted, pushed in front of a train or slashed before our state lawmakers realize they need to change things,” he said.
At that meeting, he did not did not specify what changes he sought or which lawmakers he had in mind.
Responding to a request to clarify his remarks, Strauss said in a statement to Blank Slate Media that he was concerned about bail reform, the Manhattan district attorney’s policies and stricter law enforcement to curtail crime in New York.
“If someone can’t afford to post bail, maybe they should reconsider committing a crime,” Strauss said. “No one is being forced to rape, rob, slash or shoot someone. That is a choice each individual makes.”
In 2020, the Democratic-led state Legislature passed bail reform laws that eliminated pretrial detention and monetary bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. Republicans have assailed the changes and said they endanger the public.
Without enough of a punishment, Strauss said, how can crime in New York City be expected to go down?
“The Manhattan DA claimed he wouldn’t seek bail or prison except in just a few types of cases,” he said. “No bail, no prison, what is the consequence for committing crimes against society? Crimes against people? Since when does a District Attorney have the authority to not prosecute the very laws and constitution they swore to uphold when they took office? When they first became a lawyer?”
In January, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg released a memo to staff that instructed prosecutors to avoid seeking jail time except for the most serious crimes, according to reports. The move prompted harsh criticism.
On Feb. 4, Bragg released another memo that backtracked from some of his positions, calling for stricter policing, according to multiple reports.
Strauss previously served as a detective with the Emergency Service Unit of the NYPD, where he earned the Medal of Honor, the department’s highest award, for his efforts during the Sept. 11 attacks.
Strauss said that his points essentially boil down to giving potential criminals a strong enough penalty to make them “think twice before breaking the law.” He said there is no penalty for jumping subway turnstiles in the city, which leads to revenue losses for the MTA and, in his opinion, is one of the reasons for too many illegal guns on the streets.
“Who will make that up,” Strauss said. “Raising the fare won’t work, it will only cause more people to avoid paying it. Maybe they’ll add a tax to all NY’ers to help subsidize them.”
He said that elected officials need to support the police and not “take away their authority, diminish their respect and dignity.”
If people feel that current laws are outdated or constitutional, there are ways in government to address those concerns, he said. As for the current laws, Strauss said he believes they need to be properly enforced and executed, and that should not change.
“One person, or a small group of people, should not and do not have that authority,” he said.