NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio has hit a new obstacle as he tries to improve his relationship with the NYPD.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, law enforcement wants to know why the mayor reinstated Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Laura Johnson, after she released a suspect accused of threatening the department.
The heartbreak of the funeral of assassinated NYPD officer Rafael Ramos – who was ambushed and shot dead along with Officer Wenjian Liu in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn on Dec. 20 – was fresh in de Blasio’s mind this week. So was his high-profile meeting with angry police unions to find a means of coming together after the unions accused him of being antagonistic toward police.
But law enforcement representatives on Thursday said the first chance Mayor de Blasio got to show real support for rank-and-file officers, he instead threw salt on the wound.
“I think the mayor had an opportunity to begin the process of mending these fences, and he blew it,” said Dennis Quirk, president of the New York State Court Officers Association.
Quirk was among other law enforcement officials who were livid that de Blasio reappointed Johnson. She freed without bail two men who allegedly threatened officers just days after Ramos and Liu were killed.
“I was stunned,” Quirk said. “If he didn’t reappoint this judge, it would have shown those police officers on the street and the union leaders that the mayor was beginning an attempt to mend those fences,” Quirk said.
Rank-and-file officers were particularly stunned that Judge Johnson freed without bail defendant Devon Coley, 18, who allegedly posted a photo on Facebook of a gunman firing into an NYPD radio car just hours after Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and killed Ramos and Liu.
Coley also allegedly wrote, “73Nextt,” Which is believed to refer to the 73rd Precinct in Coley’s Brownsville neighborhood.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson had sought $250,000 bail for Coley, and thought the charges against him were serious.
De Blasio, who has not answered reporters’ questions for about 10 days, did not answer questions from the media on Thursday, Kramer reported.
But spokesman Phil Walzak claimed, “The law limits what a judge can do on bail here – a judge is bound by law to consider flight risk on bail, not nature or severity of crime.”
Quirk said that is not exactly true.
“One purpose of bail is to make sure the defendant returns, but the second reason for bail is to keep dangerous people off the streets who commit murder and rape to not receive bail,” he said.
Walzak said that because of what happened, de Blasio now wants to change bail laws to give judges more discretion in such cases.
Meanwhile, court officers said they plan to give Judge Johnson a hard time in court.
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