Watch CBS News

Bratton Ready To Change Low-Level Crime Penalty Process 'That Has Become Cumbersome And Unfair'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- They are words you might not have expected to come out of Police Commissioner Bill Bratton's mouth.

Speaking Thursday at the Police Academy in College Point, Queens, Bratton said he's willing to change the penalty process for certain low-level crimes, 1010 WINS' Al Jones reported.

Click here to read Bratton's complete quality of life crime report (.pdf)

"We can in some respects change the penalty process, change the process that has become cumbersome and unfair," Bratton said.

Bratton Open To Changing Penalties For Certain Low Level Crimes

It was open admisison that the policy he authored when he was first police commisisoner in the 1990s -- arrest people for minor quality-of-life offenses to stop bigger crimes -- has, in its execution, been overdone and overzealous, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.

The cold, hard fact is 88 percent of those arrested for minor offenses end up spending time in jail awaiting trial, Kramer reported.

The commissioner now says he's all in with finding a way to make changes sought by the City Council for dealing -- civilly, not criminally -- with things like public consumption of alcohol, bicycling on the sidewalk, being in a park after hours and failure to obey a park sign.

Bratton Open To Changing Penalties For Certain Low Level Crimes

Bratton said he absolutely will not change the job police officers do. People will still be stopped for those offenses and if they have something like an illegal gun in their possession all bets are off. However, there will also be a whole lot of discretion, Kramer reported.

If all you're doing is drinking in public, "The vast majority of those end up with a $25 fine," Bratton said.

Others could get off even easier. Bratton said he's willing to give officers discretion on whether a minor crime deserves a summons, fine or warning, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported.

"We're looking very actively and will propose to the Council the idea of warnings," Bratton said.

The City Council was thrilled.

"For too long, these policies have driven a wedge between law enforcement and the communities they serve while also clogging our criminal justice system. It's time to put the justice back in our criminal justice system," Council communications director Eric Koch said.

Bratton intends to send his proosals to the City Council on Friday, Kramer reported.

"This is something where what divides us will bring us together," he said.

The commisisoner also said the city's new municipal ID system makes it easier for police to verify the identity of the person they stopped. And having cases handled civilly is a good because cops can stay on patrol instead of appearing in court to testify.

"I don't have to tie my cops up sitting court, spending overtime," Bratton said. "That's something I definitely want to do."

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday the handling of low-level offenses will be re-examined as times change.

"I've said many times the 'broken windows' approach, the enforcement of quality-of-life offenses, is a basic strategy that we will always look at and consider with changing times," de Blasio said.

The mayor said the administration is working on a deal to treat some minor offenses with tickets or summonses and not as criminal cases, CBS2 reported.

Mayor De Blasio Says Talks On Changing Low-Level Crime Policies Just Getting Started

There was a loud uproar when City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito first proposed changes to the city's quality-of-life laws in February. The largest naysayer was Bratton, who said last Friday that he would not endorse the abolition or watering down of the "broken windows" policing strategy.

However, it now appears everything has changed.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.