Trespassing arrests down 20% in NYC

September 28, 2012 2:46:35 PM PDT
There has been a dramatic decline in the number of arrests for trespassing.

Just this week, the Bronx District Attorney revealed he would not prosecute many of the trespassing cases at housing complexes.

Those arrests are often made by the same officers assigned to the controversial "Stop and Frisk" enforcement.

At an apartment complex in the Bronx, lots of tenants have complained about aggressive police.

The Civil Liberties Union is now suing, accusing police of arresting people on trespassing charges in their own building.

Now new figures show the number of trespass arrests this year has dropped 20% citywide and in the Bronx they're down by 40%.

"And I think what that clearly reflects is the city recognizes there is a serious problem with trespass arrests with tenants and visitors being arrested and I think as a result of the pressure of our lawsuit the police department is being much more careful about who they are arresting," said Chris Dunn, NYCLU.

The Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson was so concerned about the issue that his office now refuses to prosecute trespass cases unless prosecutors also interview the arresting officer.

That infuriated the mayor.

"But in terms of what the District Attorney's doing I think it is going in the wrong direction. We are not going to let crime go up on our watch. I can just tell you that," Mayor Bloomberg said.

Thursday, the mayor blasted DA Johnson.

Yet Friday, Bloomberg said he doesn't want to fight with the Bronx DA and the police commissioner said much the same.

"Whatever the District Attorney wants to do. You know Bob Johnson is a good man. He's trying to do the right thing as he sees it," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

The commissioner and mayor say police are just trying to do their job especially in public housing where trespassing is a big problem.

"Do you want lower crime or don't you?" Bloomberg asked.

Lawyers say this latest flap over trespassing prosecution goes to the bigger controversy of "Stop and Frisk" and aggressive police.

"Well, we understand Mayor Bloomberg is a big supporter of "Stop and Frisk" but I don't think he for a moment would support people being arrested in their own buildings," Dunn said.

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