By Nancy J. Brandwein
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg listed guns as the first of his top three “areas of concern” at the February Full Community Board (CB)7 Meeting, which he attended on February 1, to participate in a Q&A.
But before taking up the topic, Bragg sought to clarify his controversial “January Day 1 Policy Memo,” which outlined a plan to no longer pursue, or to downgrade, certain low-level offenses. The memo caused a public stir, and opinion pieces in media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, branded Bragg “soft on crime.” Almost immediately after introducing himself to the community board and public in attendance, Bragg said he wanted to take “accountability for not having the proper scaffolding and context” around that memo, and that he hoped to provide it during the meeting.
Returning to guns, Bragg said that the DA’s office was going to take every gun possession case, of which there have already been 40 since January, and build it into a gun trafficking case, using the latest in gun-tracing technology. Bragg also mentioned the recent four-year sentencing of a “ghost” gun manufacturer from the East Village as a signal that the DA’s office will hold such manufacturers accountable, and mete out significant prison time.
After guns, Bragg said, comes “dealing with disorder…at a more micro level, in our small businesses in particular, whether it’s our retail stores, pharmacies or restaurants.”
To counter the upsurge in robberies and “general lawlessness” on city streets, Bragg said a task force had been formed, called the Manhattan Small Business Alliance, which would “partner with a number of small businesses from across the borough to focus on commercial robberies and shoplifting.” He said the Small Business Alliance would divide these crimes into two categories: small time shoplifters who might be acting out of substance abuse or need, who will be connected with services; and repeat-offender “opportunists” who will be pursued with felony charges.
The DA’s third priority is “domestic violence and sexual assault.” To focus on this issue Bragg said, “We brought in the head of our trial division, Joyce Smith, a career domestic violence prosecutor.”
Several participants at the meeting voiced their concerns about people with mental illness on city streets and in the subways. Bragg was supportive of Mayor Adams’ emphasis on “upstreaming” services to stop incidents before they happen. He spoke of “wraparound services” to address mental health needs, and “flooding the zone”: putting services in areas that are very “hot.” But he cautioned that these efforts “cost a lot of money and take time and coordination, so we’re talking to our partners in law enforcement.”
Before he left, Bragg encouraged concerned citizens to reach out to his office to continue conversations, and urged people to go on the DA’s data dashboard for information on arrests, arraignments, dispositions, etc.
After Bragg’s departure, Community Board 7 passed several resolutions, including approving two-year liquor licenses at the following UWS establishments:
- 246 W. 76th (The Wallace Hotel)
- TSR 953 Corp. (Tropical Sensation)
- GWC-Broadway 85th (Sunrise Senior Living)
The board also voted in favor of a resolution to close the Bull Moose Dog Run in Theodore Roosevelt Park at 9:00PM – 7:00AM; and to invoke law enforcement if people don’t adhere to the rules regarding the lawns in TR Park, and to erect “unbreachable fencing” around the lawn if trespassing continues.