New York City will see a new Mayor take office on January 1, 2022. Eric Adams was elected as a Democrat, but some of his policies threaten some recent hard-earned civil rights advances. He was formerly registered as a Republican from 1997-2001 and also served four terms in the New York State Senate and was Brooklyn Borough President. I have concerns about some of his policies These are just my thoughts/
Eric Adams is a former NYPD and NYCTP officer who reached the rank of Captain.[i] He has a bachelors from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Masters of Public Administration from Marist College.
One of Adams’ platform planks was the return of Stop n Frisk policing. In 2020 he told CBS news, “Used it, used it often, great tool. We should never have removed stop-and-frisk,”.[ii] I discussed some police reform issues previously.[iii] I didn’t address Stop and Frisk at the time because then-Mayor de Blasio had greatly reduced the practice. At the height of its use, in 2011, there were 685,724 stops by the NYPD 88% of which did not produce a fine or conviction. Only 9% of those stopped were white, while whites made up 44% of the population.[iv] [v] It was pretty clear that the practice was used disproportionately against minorities. In 2013 the practice was held to violate the 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.[vi]
In a recent editorial for the New York Daily News, Eric Adams again advocated for the use of stop and frisk.[vii] He has argued that stop and frisk is a valuable tool for policing and the problems were in how it was implemented. He believes that if it were used properly, it would be fine.
The problem is, we have seen what police do when given such a tool. The abuses were evident in the previous incarnation of the tactic and to think that it would be any different now is naïve. Adams can say it will be used properly, but I don’t think anyone believes that it wouldn’t revert to the abuses of the past.
Another of Adams’ questionable ideas is to bring back solitary confinement in NYC jails. I discussed prison reform about a year ago.[viii] At that time a State bill aimed at prison reform, which included limits on solitary confinement, failed to pass the legislature due to cost and a union objection.
In April this year former Governor Cuomo signed into law a provision that restricted the use of solitary confinement in the state to no more than 15 consecutive days.[ix] But, the law won’t take effect until March, 2022.
In 2015 Mayor DeBlasio began a prison reform plan that included a new provision to reduce the use of solitary confinement.[x] The plan eliminated solitary for those under 22 and for people with serious mental health issues. The plan has stalled in the due to staffing shortages.
Now it appears that Adams will be undoing all the progress made. Solitary confinement is a dangerous and harmful practice and does far more harm to the incarcerated person than it does any good to the jail.[xi]
Eric Adams ran as a Democrat, but these policies are strongly conservative. He is using “law and order” as an excuse to discriminate and harass minorities. In my view, these policies are an easy sell to the public, but they do more harm than good. Policing and jail/prison management isn’t supposed to be easy. While many praise Giuliani’s efforts to “clean up” the city, he did it at the expense of minorities and the mentally ill. He used stop and frisk intimidation on minorities and sent the mentally ill and homeless away. It didn’t address the real issues. It didn’t provide better services for the mentally ill and homeless. It didn’t seek to improve the live of minorities, just pen them into their own neighborhoods.
Giuliani endorsed Adams in his run for Mayor.[xii] Adams has praised Giuliani in the past.[xiii] The tough on crime façade they both wear often hides a bully and a racist.
We can all see what has become of Giuliani and can see the real person behind the broken-windows based policing. The racist basis for all this was ignored then, but it is apparent now and should not be tolerated.
The author[s] is solely responsible for this blog submission. It does not represent the position of the New York State Bar Association or its Committee.