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Amid NYC Violence, Manhattan DA Asks Gov. Cuomo To Use Emergency Powers To Enable Judges To Hold Looters On Bail

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- All the looting in the city has put a spotlight on bail reform.

The Manhattan district attorney says the result has been looters getting right back on the street right after they've been arrested, so he's asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make some emergency changes, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported exclusively on Wednesday.

Call it an example of the revolving door justice system in New York -- police bringing people arrested for looting to be arraigned at Manhattan Criminal Court, as others are being released without bail.

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This as Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said the looters who vandalized stores and caused untold millions of dollars of damage and loss should face harsher penalties. He wants the Legislature to change bail reform laws and also for Gov. Cuomo to use his emergency powers so that a judge can right now hold looters on bail.

"I want the office and I believe it would be appropriate to join 49 other states to eliminate cash bail and to have the judge, however, have the ability to detain someone when there is a clear risk of re-offense," Vance said.

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The DA said the unusual dual crisis of COVID-19 and the violent protests in some parts of the city make it imperative for the governor to act. His remarks came after NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea expressed his frustration about bail reform laws that have allowed looters back on the streets very quickly.

"We cannot have people entering a system and being released before the police officers," Shea said Tuesday.

"This is about people who are taking advantage of this moment when people want to come out and protest peacefully," Vance said. "I'm calling for more judicial discretion."

Court officials say approximately 550 people have been arrested citywide on looting charges, while others, like Mayor Bill de Blasio's daughter, received desk appearance tickets for lesser offenses.

A spokesperson for the governor said they do think there's a need for emergency powers, because the law would allow judges to set bail if a person is carrying a dangerous instrument, including a rock or a brick, or if that instrument is used to break a window or door to gain entry.

A spokesperson for the district attorney questions whether that interpretation applies to the protesters.

Spokesmen for the state legislative leaders did not return CBS2's calls seeking comment about bail reform changes.

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