Murder, rape, and robbery, are all decreasing. Crime in the subway and in public housing is dropping. On paper [PDF], New York City is safer than it has ever been. Yet the NYPD continues to arrest a staggering number of New Yorkers—mostly young men of color—for low-level offenses or for possessing a plant that has been decriminalized in New York since 1977. The police commissioner doesn't have the support of "the city power elite," and the department's biggest booster for the campaign promise of "community policing" resigned last week. What is happening to de Blasio's NYPD?

Since June, various reports have affirmed what Ray Kelly said this week: "There's been relabeling, but there really hasn't been significant change." Mayor de Blasio rode into office promising "a community-policing worldview," but actually just continued jailing a whole lot of people for petty offenses.

Does arresting people for littering or jaywalking or graffiti really stop serious crime before it occurs? No one really knows. Given the manipulation that occurs due to the insatiable demand to keep crime numbers low, we aren't even sure if our statistics are entirely accurate.

New Yorkers were told time and again that the police department needed to stop and frisk millions of people to maintain public order, yet when those stops drastically faded, crime continued to fall.

This much is certain: arresting young minority men in droves for subway dancing or petty marijuana possession—74% of whom didn't have a prior conviction at the time of their arrest—runs counter to de Blasio's stated vision of a more equitable system of justice and angers the constituency who helped put him in office.

According to the New York Post, following another report showing that pot arrests are on the rise on his watch, the Mayor is starting to turn the knobs himself by ordering the NYPD to stop conducting marijuana "buy-and-bust" sweeps.

Cue the Post's police sources:

“Of course, this comes from City Hall and [Mayor Bill] de Blasio. This is all about arresting minorities, and this is just one way to arrest less minorities,’’ the source said.

“With marijuana arrests, lots of times, you’ll find a guy with a gun or something else illegal on him,’’ a source said.

Also, once the suspect is booked, police have his fingerprints and photo on file — “so it can help later on if they commit another crime. They have it now on record.”

As stated above, reality does not bear this out. Bestowing a young man of color with a criminal record might make it easier on the NYPD's bookkeeping, but it makes getting a job, going to school, or simply living a normal life, considerably more difficult.

It's unclear how much of an effect this policy will have. A report from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice recently noted that marijuana arrests made up 15.4% of all the NYPD's misdemeanor arrests in 2013. But the vast majority of those arrests are for simple possession; statewide since 1980, there have been four times as many misdemeanor arrests for holding marijuana than for selling it.

There's also a question of how to properly use police resources (a.k.a. your tax dollars). Keep in mind that in 2012, 38.5% of all misdemeanor arrests in New York City were dismissed at arraignment.

At the meeting, Chief of Narcotics Brian McCarthy told the commanders to shift their attention to more potent drugs.

“We have to focus on controlled substances,’’ he said, according to sources. “There’s a pill and heroin problem in the city, and we have to focus on that.”

Sources also cited a lack of prosecution of marijuana suspects as another reason not to pursue the busts.

“Especially in Brooklyn and The Bronx, the DAs are soft on punishment. Nobody’s going to jail,” a source said. “At worst, they’re going for treatment.

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson decided to stop prosecuting many misdemeanor marijuana arrests in the interest of justice. (In 2012, New York City's DAs declined to prosecute 7.4% of misdemeanor arrests. For other cities that number is closer to zero.) "Justice" and "making enough arrests so I can meet my quota and keep the CompStat numbers low" often work at cross purposes.

(nycmayorsoffice / Flickr)

Arrest quotas, using skin color as a shorthand for criminality, and the idea that police officers need to arrest someone for a petty offense rather than admonish them are "cultural issues" that de Blasio pledged to fix.

Bill Bratton's appointment was necessary to appease the city's plutocrats, so City Hall was apparently looking to former Chief of Department Philip Banks III, a Ray Kelly appointee, to lead the changes.

At press conferences at 1 Police Plaza, Banks often appeared nervous. But Bratton made sure to allot him time and it was clear why Banks was there for the reporters: community policing. Banks instituted a pilot program that required beat cops to talk to a certain amount of citizens everyday—about problems their area was having, or about anything else. He wanted them to be a less menacing presence on the citizens they were protecting. He wanted them to learn how to shoot the shit with ordinary people.

"[Residents] are going to see the same people every day, the community is going to see the same officer every day…you're gonna see consistency," Banks told reporters in July.

But Banks abruptly resigned last week before taking a promotion to First Deputy Commissioner, the highest civilian member of the NYPD, a position he felt had little efficacy.

Leonard Levitt provides the relevant context:

Banks was sensitive to the fact that, during Bratton’s first tour as commissioner in 1994, he had appointed as his initial First Deputy David Scott, a gentlemanly black chief, to whom Bratton gave virtually no authority. A year later, Bratton replaced Scott with John Timoney, a white officer who, like Banks, had been Bratton’s Chief of Department. Bratton then issued an interim order, saying that Timoney’s successor, Louis Anemone, would now report to Timoney as First Dep.

In short, Banks, who could not be reached for comment, wanted Bratton to view him as a Timoney, not a Scott.

According to Levitt, the mayor "has lost the confidence of much of the police department with his embrace of the race-baiting Al Sharpton and of his former spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger." Bratton will be gone in a year "In part…because the city power elite, whom Bratton seeks to befriend, despise de Blasio and fear his policies."

Bratton is slated to name his new First Deputy Commissioner at 1:30 p.m. today.

Update: Bratton promoted Benjamin Tucker to be the new First Deputy Commissioner, making him the highest ranking black official in the NYPD. Tucker, who joined the NYPD in 1969 at age 18, has also served under President Clinton on a Justice Department board advocating for community policing, and, under President Obama, as deputy director for state, local and tribal affairs at the office of National Drug Control Policy.

Tucker returned to the NYPD in January to lead the retraining of officers, Capital NY reports. At his promotion ceremony today, Bratton said that under Tucker the First Deputy job "might end up being more powerful than at any time in history."