NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio shot back Friday at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s criticism of the city’s lack of progress on police reform, insisting the governor “doesn’t have his facts straight” and is engaging in “personal attacks.”
Cuomo has demanded that every city and town in the state submit a plan to overhaul their police department, and tore into de Blasio on Thursday for not starting work on the plan, even as shootings surge in the city.
According to the governor, 146 other jurisdictions in the state have initiated their plans, which must be implemented by April or the locality will lose its state funding.
“He doesn’t have his facts straight. It’s just quite clear,” de Blasio said Friday on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.” “If he wants to make personal attacks, he can do that. But he does not have his facts straight. Seven years of non-stop reform, and it’s time we have an honest conversation about this and stop these games.”
Cuomo’s executive order, signed in June amid protests over the killing of George Floyd, requires every local police agency, including the NYPD, to develop a plan that “reinvents and modernizes police strategies” and implement it by April 1.
“Step up and lead. 146 jurisdictions are doing it,” Cuomo said Thursday. “Why isn’t New York City doing it? The mayor can lead it, City Council president (sic) can lead it, comptroller can lead it, public advocate could lead it. If none of them want to lead it, I will find someone to lead it.”
“On behalf of everybody who lives in New York City, it’s wholly unacceptable,” he said.
Asked about Cuomo’s criticism, de Blasio cited a series of NYPD reform initiatives that have been implemented in his two terms in office.
The city had 180,000 fewer arrests last year than in the final year of the Bloomberg administration, he said. The jail population has fallen to levels not seen since the 1940s.
“We created a strategy to reduce unnecessary arrests while driving down crime. We created a strategy to end mass incarceration. The governor didn’t do that. The state didn’t do that. We did that,” de Blasio said.
He said the city will submit a plan to Albany, also citing the NYPD’s disbanding of its aggressive anti-crime unit and his support for the repeal of a law that kept police disciplinary records secret. (De Blasio’s administration began withholding police records under that law, known as 50-a, even though they had been released in the past.)
Critics also say the NYPD under his direction has failed to discipline police officers who commit misconduct, and it took five years to fire the officer who killed Eric Garner on Staten Island. City lawyers said Friday they would appeal a court ruling granting a new judicial inquiry into officials’ handling of Garner’s killing.
Lehrer pointed out that the state order requires a plan to overhaul police departments going forward and does not concern reforms that have already been made.
“There’s more coming, and you’re going to see it all, and we’ll present it all to the state,” de Blasio said. “But I think the governor should take his personal feelings out of the situation and actually engage and respect the NYPD and the changes it’s made.”
Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi said de Blasio’s reliance on past policing changes was insufficient.
“Past actions have not addressed the fundamental relationship issue. One hundred forty-six communities have already started this process and no other place needs it more than New York City — get everyone at the table and get to work,” he said.
Anna Gronewold contributed to this report.