Mayor signs Criminal Justice Act

From left, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Public Safety Chair Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson.
NYC City Council / Vania Andre

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday signed Intro. 639-B into law that requires the New York Police Department (NYPD) to provide quarterly reports to the Mayor’s Office and City Council on criminal and civil summonses issued.

Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn) who is also the deputy leader of the City Council and representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn sponsored the bill.

The data will be categorized into number of summons by offense, race, gender, age, borough and patrol precinct or housing police / transit district the summons was issued in, Williams said.

The bill, which is part of the Criminal Justice Reform Act, also calls for all data to be published online and in a format that allows for automated processing.

Each report is required to include comparative data for summons information for the past five years, Williams said.

The Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2016, comprising eight bills, aims to change the way low-level nonviolent offenses are enforced, diverting them from criminal to civil matters.

Int 639-B — amends the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring the police department to submit quarterly reports relating to the issuance of summonses.

Int 662-A — amends the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring the police department to submit quarterly reports relating to the issuance of desk appearance tickets.

Int 1056-A — amends the New York city charter and the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to penalties for violating park rules.

Int 1057-A — amends the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the enforcement of criminal and civil offenses.

Int 1058-A — amends the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the penalties for excessive noise.

Int 1059-A — amends the New York city charter, in relation to OATH procedures for certain quality of life offenses.

Int 1067-A — amends the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the penalties for possessing an open container of alcohol.

Int 1070-A — amends the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the penalties for littering, and to repeal subdivision 5 of section 16-118 of the administrative code of the city of New York, relating to the distribution of advertising matter.

“We know police disproportionately issue summons in historically disenfranchised communities,” Williams said. “This bill will allow us to track, document and have on record these unfair practices, which will allow us to advocate and implement a change.

“I want to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for their support and leadership on this bill,” he added.

In enforcing misdemeanors and non-criminal offenses, the NYPD may either arrest, issue a desk appearance ticket, or issue either a criminal or civil summons, Williams said

He said that the difference between a desk appearance and a summons is that issuing a desk appearance ticket requires the offender to be fingerprinted and booked, typically at a police precinct.

The difference between a criminal summons and a civil summons is that a criminal summons requires the offender to appear in criminal court, while a civil summons requires the offender to appear in a civil tribunal such as the Environmental Control Board, Williams said.

The failure to appear for a criminal summons leads automatically to a warrant, whereas the failure to appear at a civil tribunal leads to a monetary judgment being entered against the offender.

“This bill would require the NYPD to issue a quarterly report on both criminal and civil summonses,” Williams said. “The bill would require a basic report on the number of each such summons issued, and would require this information to be disaggregated by the offense charged.”

Additionally, Williams said the bill would require this information to be disaggregated by the borough and precinct in which summonses were issued, and the age, race, and gender of the person to whom a summons was issued.

“It’s important to note that this bill doesn’t change enforcement or encourage crime,” Williams said. “It’s about a balanced approach and equity. It’s my hope that this bill changes how communities are engaged by the NYPD.”

The first quarterly report is due Oct. 1, 2017.

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