The city council of New York will soon discuss repealing laws against excessive noise and public urination because some council members believe too many members of minority communities are being arrested for infractions of those law. Already, after years of strict enforcement in a policy long credited to former Republican mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the police department of the Big Apple has relaxed its enforcement of the so-called quality of life laws. Formerly, the strict enforcement imposed by New York’s Finest led to record low crime rates in a city that had been rife with crime.
Democrat Melissa Mark-Viverito told the New York Times, “We know that the system has been really rigged against communities of color in particular.” Mark-Viverito went on to say, “So the question has always been, what can we do in this job to minimize unnecessary interaction with the criminal justice system, so that these young people can really fulfill their potential?”
Mark-Viverito and other council members will introduce bills on January 25 called the Criminal Justice Reform Act. They are intended to de-claw a number of the quality-of-life laws. Among the noisome to become nearly decriminalized are: possession of marijuana, drinking in public, public urination, excessive noise, and infractions involving public parks. The new laws would encourage the police department to refrain from making arrests for urinating in public, and other laws. Cops would instead hand out civil summonses. Those receiving summons would be then ordered to appear in a court managed by New York City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.
Fines for first offenses would go from $25 to $250. Those persons pleading poverty would instead perform mandated community work. The police department would still be able to make arrests, however, having insisted on it. Otherwise, argued the police, keeping public order would b make deeper. “We have been supportive of having a civil option for the police,” NYPD spokesman Stephen P. Davis told the New York Times. “Where appropriate, the civil option is probably going to be the go-to option,” he said, but police want to retain discretion to arrest.
Public complaints about public urination and public pooping have spiked over the course of 2015 as Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has been roundly criticized. Behind a building on the campus of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, public acts of poor hygiene are common. “I have seen drug deals, public urination, defecation, masturbation in broad daylight in the Taras Shevchenko alley,” a Cooper Union professor told The New York Post. Some New Yorkers have come to refer to the institution as 'Pooper Union.'
And in August 2015, one homeless man told the New York Post that he was grateful to the Democratic mayor. “I want to thank de Blasio for taking it easy on us. It’s easier for me to get by. Because of him, nobody bothers me.”



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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