It’s progress, but with a long way to go: District Attorney Alvin Bragg has pledged to work with the NYPD to combat the shoplifting surge decimating small businesses by going after repeat offenders, says Kathryn Wylde of the Partnership for NYC.
Yet it took him nearly six months to take this scourge seriously, despite an endless wave of stories about modest mom-and-pop shops as well as high-end retailers getting slammed by thieves.
And that still leaves all too many areas where he refuses to cooperate with the Police Department, let alone back it up. Overall, he’s still mostly standing behind his infamous Day 1 memo ordering his prosecutors to stop seeking prison sentences in a host of cases and to downgrade felony charges.
That is, he hasn’t remotely repudiated his overall philosophy of keeping criminals out of jail and prison; he’s only making spot concessions in areas where the heat is too much.
Of course, he knows he doesn’t face the threat of a recall election like the ones that just ousted San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin and threaten LA’s George Gascón, nor the state impeachment proceedings just begun against Philly’s Larry Krasner. Nor is he yet concerned over the vow of Rep. Lee Zeldin to remove him if he wins; Gov. Kathy Hochul still dithers when asked about the Manhattan DA.
Yet the fact remains: New Yorkers are fed up not just with rampant shoplifting, but also the wave of smash-and-grab robberies, shootings and other crimes. And they rightly fear the summer months will bring even more mayhem.
If Bragg wants to truly show he gets the message, he needs to not just abandon his whole “decarceration” approach, but to make a truly notable break with progressive orthodoxy.
Announcing that he’ll begin routinely prosecuting subway and bus fare-beaters would be a good start.