Tag Archives: NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton

City’s pot policy change divides Queens residents, pleases pols


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via NYC Mayor Office's  Flickr

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Borough residents are on both sides of the debate over the city’s recent change in policy over marijuana possession arrests, while several local politicians see it as a progressive move.

“Historically, these types of arrests have disproportionately targeted poorer, young men of color,” Councilman Donovan Richards Jr., said. “Rethinking the administration’s approach to marijuana possession is a key to ending the misguided reliance on ‘stop and frisk’ and rebuilding the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they police.”

According to the new policy, if police find someone in possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana, officers will issue a summons instead of arresting the individual. The new policy, which comes into effect on Nov. 19, is not a blanket rule. The change is valid only if the person has identification and if no arrest warrant has been issued for him or her. Individuals carrying marijuana will still be subject to arrest if the type of possession indicates intent to sell, if the individual has an outstanding warrant, or if the individual is in certain locations such as a school.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras is also in favor of the change, calling it a move in the right direction.

“This policy change is one of many steps towards rebuilding those communities of color, like my own, that have been disproportionately jailed and suffered in the long term; it reflects the progressive, forward-thinking direction in which our city and this Council are moving,” she said.

Councilman Rory Lancman, who chairs the Committee on Courts and Legal Services, focused on the effect of the policy change on the overburdened legal system, saying that this change will allow prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys to concentrate on violent crimes. He added that he looks forward to “further reducing the over-policing in communities of color, and addressing the collateral consequences of even mere violations for undocumented immigrants caught in the criminal justice system.”

Queens residents were not as supportive, and even saw the change as potentially dangerous.

“It is not a good idea. There should be more rules covering this. What if someone is on a high and drives a car? This will add more dangerous people on the road,” Bayside resident Robert Posner said.

But others agreed with the looser punishment.

“It’s not right but I am OK with it,” Alda Gomez said. “So long as they don’t sell it or it is not a big amount or they are next to a school, if it is only for themselves, it’s okay.”

Jose Valencia believed it was a good start.

“Eventually law has to change towards legalization,” he said.

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De Blasio takes on traffic deaths with ‘Vision Zero’ initiative


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

With 11 people, including seven pedestrians, killed in traffic accidents in just the first two weeks of the New Year, Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for a stop to what he calls an epidemic.

De Blasio and his administration is launching an interagency working group, together with the NYPD, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Taxi & Limousine Commission, to implement a “Vision Zero” plan and make sure another life is not lost.

The mayor’s “Vision Zero” initiative aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

“Our top responsibility is protecting the health and safety of our people,” said de Blasio. “From tougher enforcement to more safely-designed streets and stronger laws, we’ll confront this problem from every side – and it starts today.”

De Blasio gathered with local officials, family members of victims of traffic fatalities and representative from the city agencies Wednesday to announce the working group at P.S. 152 in Woodside, just less than a block from where third-grader Noshat Nahian was fatally struck by a tractor trailer in December.

The working group will come together to implement the mayor’s plan by developing a report,  due to the mayor by Feb. 15 and released publicly, that will serve as a blueprint for the mayor’s “Vision Zero” plan for safer streets through the city.

The report is expected to have “concrete plans” to dedicate sufficient number of NYPD resources and personnel to prevent dangerous actions such as speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians; annually improve close to 50 dangerous corridors and intersections to “discourage dangerous driving;” greatly expand the amount of slow zones across the city; and pursue a traffic safety legislative agenda in order for the city to position red light and speed enforcement cameras based on safety needs.

“This will be a top-to-bottom effort to take on dangerous streets and dangerous driving,” said de Blasio. “We aren’t going to wait and lose a son, a daughter, a parent or a grandparent in another senseless and painful tragedy.”

De Blasio also said that as of Thursday, Jan. 16, speed cameras which have been installed on city streets will begin issuing tickets to enforce speed limits.

The NYPD will also be implementing additional and more severe enforcement against traffic violations, according to de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Since taking office Bratton has increased Highway Division personnel by 10 percent and has a goal to increase the staff by 50 percent.

 

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