The city could get a taste of the bad old days if a series of looming legislative changes aren’t handled properly, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill warned on Sunday.
“There are a number of issues looming on the horizon and we’re doing our best to make sure it has the smallest impact on crime as we move forward,” the top cop told host John Catsimatidis on his 970 AM radio show, rattling off four topics on his mind: Geriatric parole, marijuana legalization, elimination of cash bail and subway-crime prosecution.
“I think all New Yorkers need to know what’s going on and pay attention to it so we can all do our best to keep the city safe.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed “geriatric parole” program — which would entitle some state prisoners 55 or older who have served at least half their sentence to parole hearings — is one such concern to O’Neill, though proponents say it’s humane and could save the state money on medical care.
“Most people in New York City and across the nation are really good people,” said O’Neill. “But there’s a certain percentage of the population that just can’t abide by society’s rules, and they do very bad things and they need to stay in prison.”
When it came to legal pot, O’Neill said he worries about sobriety tests, continuing black market sales and users’ ages — common concerns in policing circles as lawmakers have mulled legalizing weed.
“I’m concerned about driving while under the influence of marijuana. There’s no instantaneous test for that,” he said. “I’m also concerned about [tokers] under 21. What do we do with that?”
The commissioner sided with district attorneys from the five boroughs who have criticized the elimination of cash bail as dangerous for victims.
O’Neill said Sunday he doesn’t want people to be jailed on minor offenses due to economic issues but was concerned over rollout.
“If it’s not done right, it can affect safety in New York City,” he said. “All New Yorkers need to know what’s going on and pay attention to it so we can all do our best to keep the city safe.”
But the commish did take a swipe at city DAs in the interview for not prosecuting subway crimes.
“I think, as everybody would agree, we need to control the entrance to the subway to make sure we keep the riders as safe as possible,” he said.