"I want a community-policing worldview," Bill de Blasio told New York Magazine last year, referring to the differences between his NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg's. "I want to fundamentally reform our current approach." Seven months after de Blasio took office, his police force is arresting more New Yorkers for low-level offenses than his predecessor's—and the vast majority of those petty arrests continue to involve people of color.
From January through July 2014, the NYPD made 137,039 misdemeanor arrests, compared with 136,208 over the same time period in 2013. The most common charge was theft, followed by assault, then criminal possession of marijuana.
Of all marijuana-related arrests, 90% involved people of color, compared with 90.1% of arrests occurring in 2013; 90% of all trespass arrests this year involved people of color.
The numbers were obtained from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services by the Police Reform Organizing Project, a group that has pointed to the similarities between De Blasio and Bloomberg's policing styles since June.
"De Blasio and Bratton pay lip service to the idea of community policing, but having meetings with high level clergy like Rev. Al Sharpton or Cardinal Dolan, that's all window dressing," says Robert Gangi, the director of PROP.
"There's an undeniable, stark racial bias in these low-level arrests," Gangi adds. "It sounds almost exaggerated, but it's true: the vast majority of police resources are focused on ticketing people or arresting people engaging in low-level infractions."
As part of his "All Out" initiative earlier this summer, Commissioner Bratton and Chief of Department Philip Banks III announced that cops would be required to chat with residents and go about "generating contacts."
"They're gonna be knocking on doors to see how [the NYPD] is doing. The residents of New York City will see more police officers on the street," Banks said.
Bratton told us last month, "Overall trending on marijuana related issues in the city is in fact down, it will continue to go down," but the number of marijuana-related arrests have essentially remained the same for the first seven months of 2014 compared with 2014. Arrests for marijuana possession dropped slightly from 17,630 to 17,117, despite the fact that for the final month counted, the Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson essentially decriminalized the offense in the city's most populous borough.
A spokesman for the de Blasio administration predicted that the mayor would address the PROP numbers shortly—we'll update if this happens.