INDICTMENT OF EAST HARLEM NARCOTICS TRAFFICKERS ANNOUNCED

INDICTMENT OF EAST HARLEM NARCOTICS TRAFFICKERS ANNOUNCED

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill announced the indictment of 16 individuals for trafficking and selling narcotics in East Harlem. The defendants are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree.[1]

“Where money and drugs change hands, violence often follows,” said District Attorney Vance. “As alleged in the indictment, the defendants are charged with trafficking and selling narcotics in a community that is disproportionately affected by crime. All New Yorkers deserve to feel safe at home and free from danger while going about their lives, and I thank the NYPD for their partnership and continued commitment to rooting out the illegal conduct that endangers our communities.”

Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said: “Drug trafficking in East Harlem has been significantly disrupted with the arrest of these defendants. Thanks to the NYPD detectives and prosecutors at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office whose work led to this indictment.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, between August 2016 and April 2017, the defendants engaged in the trafficking and sale of narcotics, primarily crack cocaine, in and around the Jefferson Houses, a New York City Housing Authority complex in East Harlem covering East 112th to East 115th Streets between First and Third Avenues.

BRIAN ARTIS, 37, DONTE AUSTIN, 28, DAY BRYANT, 42, SAMMY CABAN, 28, NELSON CONRAD, 30, VANCE CRICHLOW, 23, KEITH HERNANDEZ, 32, RASHAWN JENKINS, 23, JOSE LeBRON, 29, PAULETTE MASSARD, 47,  JOSE MATOS, 30, WYRON MORRIS, 32, DONOVAN QUINONES, 22, SHAHIEME SMITH, 27, ISAAC SOLER, 26, and SEAN WILLIAMS, 29, are charged with making sales to undercover detectives on at least 37 occasions; of those sales, 35 were transactions involving crack cocaine, one involved the sale of heroin and fentanyl, and one involved the sale of marijuana.

The indictment follows a joint investigation conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit and NYPD Narcotics Borough Manhattan North Major Case Unit in response to local complaints about narcotics trafficking and violent crime in the community.

Assistant District Attorney Jeannie Campbell-Urban is handling the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Christopher Ryan, Chief of the Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit, and Executive Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Investigative Analysts Jordan Petitta and William Andrewes provided additional assistance.

District Attorney Vance thanked the NYPD, and in particular, Detectives Roberto Cordero, Jeffrey Carroll, and Erick Ortiz, Sergeant Nicole Tirado, and Lieutenant Timothy Kearns, all of the Narcotics Borough Manhattan North Major Case Unit, for their assistance with the investigation.

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.

PROSECUTORS, STATE LEGISLATORS, LAW ENFORCEMENT JOIN FORCES TO PUSH FOR COMMON SENSE GUN LAWS

PROSECUTORS, STATE LEGISLATORS, LAW ENFORCEMENT JOIN FORCES TO PUSH FOR COMMON SENSE GUN LAWS

MANHATTANProsecutors Against Gun Violence (PAGV), members of American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention (ASLGVP), and the Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence have convened here in a national summit on gun violence prevention.

At the conclusion of the summit on Tuesday, April 4th, prosecutors, state legislators, and police will formally announce a multi-state effort to enact state legislation in two key areas:

Proposals in 20 states to create Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which enable family and law enforcement to prevent gun tragedies by petitioning a court to temporarily restrict access to firearms for individuals who are at risk of hurting themselves or others.

Bills in 5 states to enact stronger laws aimed at removing guns from domestic abusers.

Both of these initiatives are based on strong empirical evidence from experts in gun violence and public health regarding circumstances that lead to a heightened risk of gun violence, and practical steps that can be taken to prevent it.

“Keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and those in crisis will save lives,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, co-chair of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence. “Prosecutors, law enforcement and legislators join in supporting these commonsense gun violence prevention measures because they’re based on solid evidence.  These proposals deserve wide, bipartisan support.”

“Strong state and local gun laws are more important than ever, and these proven measures are simply commonsense,” said District Attorney Vance, co-chair of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence. “People in the midst of a mental health crisis should not have unfettered access to firearms, nor should those convicted of domestic abuse or subject to a temporary protective order. I would like to thank New York State Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and the American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention for their leadership on these issues. I am proud to support our law enforcement and legislative partners working to prevent gun violence in states across the country.”

“For a number of years now, state and local officials have played a leading role in enacting and implementing laws and policies to prevent gun violence and keep our communities safe. Whatever happens in Washington, we remain as dedicated as ever to that task,” said New York Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, Chair of American State Legislators of Gun Violence Prevention. “Today’s announcement is a result of many thoughtful discussions among legislators, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies, and research conducted by gun violence experts and public health advocates—all aimed at developing practical steps we can take and laws we can enact to save lives, while respecting basic rights of due process.”

The 20 states included in today’s announcement of new proposed ERPO legislation include:Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming.

The 5 states where new laws were announced to keep guns out of domestic abusers’ hands are:Arizona, Florida, Missouri, New York, Utah.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which focus on individuals who are exhibiting dangerous behavior, have been enacted in various forms in four states. They have been demonstrated to be an effective means of temporarily preventing people in crisis from having access to guns, while respecting rights to due process. Family members and loved ones are often the first to know if someone is experiencing a crisis and may be at risk of dangerous behavior. Even if they report their fears to law enforcement, police in most states may not have the authority to intervene, resulting in preventable tragedies.

In 2014, California became the first state in the nation to enact a law empowering family members as well as law enforcement to request that a judge issue an ERPO based on evidence that a person is at risk of harming him- or herself, or others. In 2016, Washington State enacted a similar measure through ballot initiative. Legislation allowing law enforcement to seek a court order has been on the books for years in Indiana and Connecticut. Researchers have demonstrated that Connecticut’s law has led to a measurable reduction in suicides.

“When we know a person is in mental health crisis, and we know that person has ready access to a gun – we have a moral obligation to try to prevent that crisis from escalating into a tragedy. Concerned family members should not have to wait until it is too late to sound the alarm; and this bill will encourage states to consider this issue and develop ways to try to keep everyone safe,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly M. Foxx.

“We need every tool at our disposal to protect our residents from injury or death by gunfire, and Gun Violence Restraining Orders would help prevent tragedies. We must have the ability to disarm dangerous people. I support the Gun Violence Intervention Act of 2015, which would make it a crime for anyone subject to such a restraining order from obtaining a firearm while the order is in effect,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark.

In recent years, many states have also focused increasingly on the particular dangers posed by guns in domestic violence incidents—including a 500% increase in the risk the victim of abuse will be killed, and many have already enacted stronger laws.

Legislators Proposing Legislation on Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Alaska Representative Geran Tarr – “Alaska is at the top of the list for suicide rates. Every death is a tragedy for the family, the community, and our state. As a policymaker I’m desperate for solutions and high risk protective orders offer such a solution. In Connecticut, this common sense policy has been proven to reduce the number of suicides. Acting now can save lives and that is something all legislators should support.”

Arizona Representative Randy Friese – “HB 2149 mental health; injunction; firearm possession is an important piece of legislation regarding gun safety. Mental illness contributes to gun injury on multiple levels. Particularly, it has been well described that those with depression and suicidal ideation are more likely to be successful if they have access to a firearm. Gun safety is a complex problem which requires a multifaceted solution. HB 2149 is one facet of a potential solution.”

Hawaii Representative Chris Lee – “Mandatory background checks and other commonsense laws keeping guns out of the wrong hands have given Hawaii one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country. Extreme Risk Protective Orders would have saved even more lives by keeping guns away from people known to be a danger to themselves or others, such as Byran Uyesugi, who was known to authorities to be mentally ill, threatened to commit a mass shooting, who had numerous guns, and who later used them to kill seven people.”

Massachusetts Representative David Linsky – “While there is not one solution to reducing gun violence, there are a lot of common-sense steps that we can take to significantly reduce gun violence and I believe that this legislation plays a vital role in that process. Life can present unexpected challenges and removing firearms during a crisis is an important step in helping to prevent individuals from hurting themselves or others.”

Michigan Representative Robert Wittenberg – “We are working on introducing an Extreme Risk Protection Order in Michigan. I strongly believe this legislation will help prevent workplace violence, domestic violence and suicides. Gun violence is already a serious problem, and we must step up our efforts to protect people who are more likely to be harmed by a firearm. We lose far too many people to gun-related deaths, and this is a great first step to ensure that someone that is a danger to themselves or others is appropriately helped.”

Minnesota Representative David Pinto – “Gun violence is tragic and preventable. I’ve introduced common sense legislation to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, domestic abusers and those who might hurt themselves. These are common sense measures that are widely supported by Minnesotans. Unfortunately, instead of giving our bills a hearing, Republicans are focusing on reckless carry and shoot first legislation that would put the public in even more danger.”

Missouri Representative Stacey Newman- “Domestic violence experts tell us over and over that restricting firearms from abusers will save lives. Extreme risk protection orders as an intervention in potential incidents will save lives. Saving lives is our utmost responsibility.”

Nevada Senator Julia Ratti – “I am excited to be sponsoring Senate Bill 387 (SB387), a high-risk protection order that allows family members and law enforcement to seek to temporarily remove a firearm from someone who is in crisis. Nevada is among the deadliest states for gun violence and gun-related suicides. This legislation is important because we are focusing on prevention and safety for family members, our community and law enforcement.”

New Jersey Assemblymember John F McKeon – “It’s simple, Extreme Risk Protection Order laws save lives. With Extreme Risk Protection Order laws in place, judges could temporarily prevent those displaying warning signs of gun violence from having access to firearms. Recognizing warning signs and having laws in place to take immediate action would help prevent tragedies before they occur. Without ERPOs, these warning signs go unanswered, leading to possible mass shootings, suicides, and communities and families being torn apart. This is why I am proud to be the Primary Sponsor of Assembly Bill 2390 currently pending before the New Jersey State Legislature. We cannot afford to delay. States must pass ERPO legislation to protect our children and communities from the menace of gun violence.”

New Jersey Senator Richard J. Codey – “Too often we find out after the fact that the loved ones and friends and family of individuals who have harmed others with their firearms have for some time suspected that the individual was not in the right frame of mind and was susceptible to causing harm. This legislation will allow us, during these situations and on a temporary basis, be able to get a firearm out of the hands of these individuals, while still protecting their rights.”

New York Senator Brad M. Hoylman – “Extreme Risk Protection Orders establish a legal process to remove guns temporarily from people who may harm themselves or others, thus averting violent crimes and suicides. I’m grateful to American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention and its chairman, New York State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, for their leadership on this important issue of public safety. I’ll work hard for passage of this legislation in Albany, which I sponsor in the State Senate.”

Oregon Senator Ginny Burdick – “Extreme Risk Protective Orders will save lives by keeping guns away from people at risk of harming themselves or others. The suicide rate among veterans is alarming, with an average of 20 veterans each day dying from suicide, often by gunshot. By identifying signs that a person may be suffering trauma and temporarily separating them from their firearms, we can effectively protect veterans and others in crisis so that they can get the help they need.”

Pennsylvania Representative Madeleine Dean – “Family members are often the first ones to spot their loved ones in crisis. Unfortunately, there is only so much family members can do to help, especially when a deadly weapon is involved. The ability to file an Extreme Risk Protection Order, and temporarily take a firearm out of the equation, would help save the lives of people going through crisis and planning to commit violence against themselves or others.”

Texas Senator Jose Rodriguez – “A Texas LVPO law would help those who are at risk of harming themselves or others, protect the general public, and save lives. It’s consistent with the Second Amendment while giving families an option to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the community.”

Virginia Delegate Richard “Rip” Sullivan – “I am happy to see that the American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention is continuing its great work to fight the epidemic of gun violence. This session in Virginia’s House of Delegates, I introduced legislation that addresses a startling and sad issue facing the Commonwealth: the growing rate of suicide by self-inflicted gunshot. HB 1758 would establish a procedure to temporarily recover firearms from a person who poses a substantial risk of injury to himself or others. Today, a family member or concerned friend has no legal recourse when concerned about the mental health of a loved one who owns a gun. I see this primarily as a mental health and public health bill, not a gun bill. Over the last decade, more people have committed suicide in Virginia with a gun than have died from an opioid overdose. And we just—appropriately—declared a state of public health emergency over the opioid crisis. Our suicide rate is a public health emergency too. Not surprisingly, handguns are the most common method for committing suicide. My bill—which is modeled on similar laws in Connecticut, Indiana, and California—would have saved lives. Unfortunately, but predictably, the bill became a proxy fight for the larger gun safety versus gun rights battle, so it did not pass. This issue is too important to not bring it back next year, and I look forward to working with members of the ASLGVP and my colleagues in the House of Delegates to ensure it remains a priority moving forward.”

Legislators Proposing Legislation on Relinquishment of Guns in Domestic Violence Cases

Arizona Senator David Bradley – “I introduced SB1195 in Arizona with the hope that common sense measures to prevent gun violence relative to domestic violence could be enacted. Unfortunately, the pervasive influence of the gun lobby in Arizona is alive and well and the bill cannot even attain a hearing in the Arizona State Senate. There are so many simple interventions that can be enacted to stem the tide of gun violence in this country. Keeping a weapon out of the hands of potential domestic violence perpetrator is but one of them. I applaud the efforts of likeminded prosecutors, law enforcement and state legislators to bring common sense to the epidemic of gun violence in this country.”

Missouri Representative Tracy McCreery – “Missouri’s lack of law that allows perpetrators of domestic violence to possess weapons has been recognized by those on both sides of the aisle, as well as the National Rifle Association and Advocates against domestic and sexual violence. Those who commit acts of domestic violence should never be able to escalate the situation by threatening the use of a lethal weapon.”

Missouri Representative Scott Sifton – “When a domestic violence situation involves a gun, the outcome is very likely to be fatal. As a parent, attorney and legislator, I am proud to sponsor common sense reforms to give law enforcement the resources they need to protect themselves and victims of domestic violence from further harm.”

New York Assemblymember Amy Paulin – “We know that when a gun is in the house, an abused woman is six times more likely than other abused women to be killed. We also know that firearms are the weapons used in one third of intimate partner homicides. Without this bill, people who are prohibited from buying or possessing a firearm because they’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime get to keep any firearms they already had before they were convicted, which makes no sense. We need to close this dangerous loophole to help ensure the safety of domestic violence victims who we know are at risk of harm at the hands of their abusers.”

Florida Representative Lori Berman – “HB 1103 seeks to protect women, children, and other victims in cases dealing with domestic violence by removing guns from the hands of their abusers. I have repeatedly filed legislation to attempt to reduce the danger firearms pose in domestic violence cases. Sadly, many of these situations happen in the shadows within in our communities, never reaching the light until they have become tragedies. It is unacceptable that devastating crises continue to occur day after day while our leaders avoid the difficult conversation about instituting commonsense gun safety reforms to better protect domestic violence victims. I look forward to working with my colleagues here in Florida, legislators in other states, prosecutors, and law enforcement professionals to ensure our state, and our nation is a safer place to live.”

Utah Representative Brian King – “One death is one too many. One injury, one assault, is one too many. Possessing a gun after a domestic violence conviction dramatically increases the likelihood of violence, whether that is suicide or assault or murder. It is also illegal. Our officers and courts need support to enforce these laws, these violations, so they can further protect the public. In Utah, we protect our families, and we fight for them. That is what I am doing today.’“

New York Assemblymember Nily Rozic – “While New York ranks 5th in nation in enacting some of the strongest gun laws, it is critical that we work together to address policy gaps that pose a threat to the safety of our communities. As the sponsor of legislation that would empower law enforcement to remove firearms from domestic violence perpetrators, I proudly join my colleagues in taking a stand against gun violence and continuing the work in the State Legislature to pass legislation to protect all New Yorkers.”

About Prosecutors Against Gun Violence

PAGV was launched in September, 2014, by co-chairs Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. and has grown to include over 30 leading prosecutors from every region of the country. The non-partisan coalition identifies and promotes prosecutorial and policy solutions to the national public health and safety crisis of gun violence.

About American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention

American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention, founded in December 2014, is an independent nonpartisan coalition comprised of hundreds of members of the legislatures of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The group includes representatives of urban, suburban, and rural areas who have come together in recognition of the unique role state legislators must play in preventing gun violence. ASLGVP members represent diverse perspectives based upon their own experiences and the needs of their respective districts and states, and do not seek to craft a one-size-fits-all agenda for all states. They share a common commitment to learning from each other and developing strategies for reducing gun violence that will be most effective in their districts, states, and regions, and the nation as a whole.

NYAGV Applauds NYC Public Pension Fund Decision to Unload Investments in Companies that Sell Guns

NYAGV Applauds NYC Public Pension Fund Decision to Unload Investments in Companies that Sell Guns

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE, NYPD, CRIME VICTIMS’ ADVOCATES CALL ON CONGRESS TO #UNLOCKJUSTICE   

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE, NYPD, CRIME VICTIMS’ ADVOCATES CALL ON CONGRESS TO #UNLOCKJUSTICE  

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DISTRICT ATTORNEY – NEW YORK COUNTY

Ongoing Encryption Debate Ignores Rights of Crime Victims

Handheld poster (Blue)

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today was joined by crime victims and representatives of some of the city and nation’s leading victims’ assistance organizations, as well as NYPD Intelligence Bureau Chief Thomas P. Galati, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar C. Moore, III, and the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), to highlight the impact encryption is having on public safety and victims of crime at an event at New York’s City Hall.

“The debate over encryption is often referred to in terms of privacy and security, with little regard for the impact on crime victims,” said District Attorney Vance. “That limited view ignores the effect of encryption on the investigation and prosecution of crimes ranging from homicide to identity theft to sexual assault. Americans have a right to privacy, but crime victims and surviving family members have rights, too – namely, the right to have cases solved with the strongest evidence available. Juries don’t just expect that – they demand it, and evidence that used to reside in file cabinets, closets, and safes, is today stored on smartphones.

“No consumer product should be warrant-proof, and yet that is the situation Apple and Google have created. Congress should not permit companies to manufacture devices that are impenetrable to judicial search warrants. It should not permit companies to provide criminals with unprecedented, evidence-free zones. Crime victims are entitled to stronger protections than criminals.”

Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “The creation of a device impervious to a court-ordered warrant undermines our justice system. This is a crisis in the making and it goes well beyond a singular terrorism case. To establish a safe haven for pedophiles, rapists, and murderers through their mobile device is impacting untold crime victims today – right now. This type of unilateral exclusion from the justice system is not tenable. It must be rectified, immediately.”

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar C. Moore, III, said: “It is absolutely imperative for public safety and protection, that law enforcement retain the ability, through a valid court order, to access communications, photographs and data maintained and operated by criminals and criminal organizations as well as the same information that may be in the custody of witnesses and deceased victims.”

Natasha’s Justice Project Founder Natasha Alexenko said: “It took many years to find the man that raped and robbed me at gunpoint. My perpetrator was a public safety hazard that was free to roam the country, harming others. Criminals like the man who raped me exploit the system in order to continue their crime sprees. It breaks my heart to know we are handing people who lack a conscience another method to avoid being brought to justice. Criminals are the only individuals we are serving here.”

Ernie Allen, Founding Chairman, former President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said: “Children are being harmed by those who hide behind Internet anonymity.  I believe there is a difference between privacy and anonymity, and that absolute Internet anonymity is a prescription for disaster.  We need to find the right balance.”

NDAA Director of Policy and Government Affairs Nelson Bunn said: “Whether it be a homicide, a child exploitation case, or one of human trafficking, there is always a victim involved. Unfortunately, default encryption on smartphones prevents prosecutors from accessing the digital evidence necessary to identify the perpetrator, clear the innocent, and ultimately seek justice for those who have been harmed. Today, we are truly shedding light on why we are all fighting to address this issue: to ensure that victims and their families receive the justice they deserve.”

Joyful Heart Foundation Managing Director Sarah Haacke Byrd said: “Leaders, including policymakers, law enforcement, victim advocates, and survivors, must come together to work with technology companies to ensure that law enforcement has the necessary tools at its disposal to fully investigate crimes and to hold violent offenders accountable. Jointly we must examine how current encryption policies, while attempting to preserve privacy, may be diminishing the ability of law enforcement from doing all that they can to seek justice for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and provide some level of closure for their families. Together, we can foster a society that does not tolerate these crimes, and does everything possible to ensure public safety and to bring justice and healing to survivors.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center & the Museum of Tolerance Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said: “Like Manhattan DA Vance, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is not opposed to encryption and of course wants to protect the privacy of every law abiding person. But blocking access to critical information related to terrorism, murder, and other serious crimes is unacceptable. The Simon Wiesenthal Center recently released its 2016 Digital Terrorism and Hate Report with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), which highlighted the use of inscription by the use of terrorists and their supporters. We reiterate our call to all Social media companies, including those who offer encryption apps to ensure they can retain the potential to get access to encrypted messages and turn them over to authorities after they have obtained a warrant from a judge for such information. The cooperation of all companies—starting from Apple and Google— is critical to ensuring terrorists aren’t able to cloak their online training, recruitment and command and control of terrorist operations. Further we all have a moral obligation to ensure perpetrators of severe felonies aren’t able to avoid the bar of justice because of encryption technologies.”

Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation Executive Director Yolanda Jimenez said: “We support the District Attorney’s continued effort to bring justice for crime victims. Child abuse, domestic violence, and sex crimes are gravely serious problems in our city and country and the DA’s office has taken the lead on this recent issue, as well as others, which can help victims of these terrible crimes.”

Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families, said: “Every year, thousands of survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking come to Sanctuary for Families for help. Many have physical scars, the results of beatings, torture and abuse.  Increasingly, abusers are using technology as a weapon to inflict a different kind of harm.  In the process, they leave a trail of evidence that law enforcement must be able to access in order to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes. I am proud to stand with District Attorney Vance to call on technology companies to comply with legally obtained and judicially sanctioned search warrants. Justice demands it.”

Safe Horizon Vice President of Government Affairs Michael Polenberg, who co-authored a recent op-ed in the New York Daily News about encryption, said: “Today, one in five girls and one in 20 boys are victims of child sexual abuse and last year alone Safe Horizon provided services to more than 5,000 child abuse survivors through our Child Advocacy Centers. We shouldn’t give their abusers the ability to dispose of evidence with impunity. Safe Horizon recognizes and deeply respects the right to privacy, and opposes unwarranted intrusion. However, when police have a valid search warrant and need to get at evidence that’s locked away, they also have a right and duty to protect the public.”

Previously, when law enforcement seized a criminal suspect’s smartphone pursuant to court-authorized warrant, Apple and Google would comply with the judge’s orders by extracting evidence from the device, and sending the evidence to prosecutors. In September 2014, the companies announced that they had reengineered their operating systems with default device encryption, and could no longer access their own products as a result.

Testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on behalf of the National District Attorneys’ Association on March 1st, District Attorney Vance stated: “In the absence of laws that keep pace with technology, we have enabled Apple and other technology companies to upset the balance between privacy and public safety established by centuries of jurisprudence. Technology companies should not be able to dictate who can access key evidence in criminal investigations. No device or company, no matter how popular, should be able to exempt itself from court obligations unilaterally. And they should not be able to write their own laws. I do not believe Americans would want to cede this vast authority to private enterprise. That authority should rest with the people’s elected officials. I urge Congress to enact a national solution.”

To date, there are 230 inaccessible Apple devices that have come into the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s in-house Cyber Lab pursuant to judicial search warrants. These devices, running on iOS 8 or higher, cannot be unlocked by Apple, and therefore prosecutors cannot retrieve evidence believed to be critical stored on the devices.

Speaking with MIT Technology Review for its recent feature entitled “What If Apple Is Wrong?,” District Attorney Vance said: “Some people have made the determination that not being able to do the kinds of work we do is an acceptable collateral damage. I’m not sure how the individual would respond if someone close to him or her were the victim of a crime and the case might depend on the ability to access a phone. Easy to say, unless it’s you. We deal with a lot of victims. We talk to the people it’s actually happened to.”

Locked Devices - Percentage by Crime Type (Oct '14 - Mar '16)

A breakdown of crime categories corresponding to inaccessible Apple devices received by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Cyber Lab.

State and local jurisdictions throughout the country are increasingly encountering the same problem:

Map

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE, COMMISSIONER BRATTON, MAYOR DE BLASIO ANNOUNCE NEW STRUCTURAL CHANGES TO CRIMINAL SUMMONSES ISSUED IN MANHATTAN   

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE, COMMISSIONER BRATTON, MAYOR DE BLASIO ANNOUNCE NEW STRUCTURAL CHANGES TO CRIMINAL SUMMONSES ISSUED IN MANHATTAN  

DANY_SEAL_1C_BLACK DA LOGO 1

 DISTRICT ATTORNEY – NEW YORK COUNTY

Under the Joint Initiative, More Than 10,000 New Yorkers Will Be Issued Summonses for Low-Level Offenses Each Year Instead of Being Arrested and Processed, Freeing Up Law Enforcement Resources and Lessening the Burden on Those Who Commit Minor Offenses  

Manhattan DA’s Office Will Still Prosecute All Penal Law Violations, As Well As Non-Penal Law Violations or Infractions Involving Drugs, Weapons, and Vehicular Offenses

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., New York City Police Department Commissioner William J. Bratton, and Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a new initiative to change how individuals who commit low-level offenses are processed in Manhattan. Beginning on Monday, March 7, 2016, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will no longer prosecute most violations or infractions, and the NYPD will no longer arrest individuals who commit these offenses – such as littering, public consumption of alcohol, or taking up two seats on the subway – unless there is a demonstrated public safety reason to do so. This initiative will enable the NYPD to devote its resources to investigating serious crimes, while further reducing the backlog of cases in Criminal Court. The issuance of summonses instead of arrests is expected to result in the diversion of approximately 10,000 arrests that would be prosecuted in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said: “Through this initiative, we are devoting our resources to best protect and serve New Yorkers. By ensuring courts are not unnecessarily bogged down with minor offenses committed by those who pose no threat to public safety, we help focus police and prosecutorial resources on those who commit serious crimes. By giving cops the discretion to issue summonses instead of requiring them to make arrests, we ensure they do not spend hours processing cases as minor as littering, and we enable officers to get back to patrolling, investigating, and keeping our neighborhoods safe. And by reducing unnecessary incarceration, we make our criminal justice system fairer for all New Yorkers.”

NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “This new policy in Manhattan will save valuable police resources. Police officers can now quickly return a person to court on a warrant and, at the same time, adjudicate their current summonsable offense, all without jeopardizing the public safety.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “Using summonses instead of arrests for low-level offenses is an intuitive and modern solution that will help make sure resources are focused on our main priority: addressing threats to public safety. Today’s reforms allow our hardworking police officers to concentrate their efforts on the narrow group of individuals driving violent crime in New York City. This plan will also help safely prevent unnecessary jail time for low-level offenses.”

New York State Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks said: “This is a common sense approach that will reduce the borough’s overburdened Criminal Court docket without compromising public safety. As a result, it will better enable the Criminal Court to devote its limited resources to the handling of more serious offenses, improving outcomes in those cases. I commend District Attorney Vance and Commissioner Bratton for their wisdom in taking this important step.”

Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, said: “New York City continues to prove that we can have both more safety and fewer arrests. Thanks to DA Vance and his team for both their leadership in taking this important and bold step forward and for their cooperative problem solving with the many agency partners necessary to realize success. This approach will further the work to calibrate enforcement accurately to the specific situation and ensure that public safety resources are targeted toward the few individuals driving this City’s crime.”

Background on Criminal Summonses in New York City 

Currently, NYPD patrol officers determine whether those who commit low-level violations or infractions (not misdemeanors), such as public urination, littering, and various subway offenses, will be arrested and processed, or conversely, receive a criminal summons requiring them to appear at a later date in Summons Appearance Parts, located in the Criminal Court building at 346 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, and in Midtown Community Court at 314 West 54th Street.

In some scenarios, current policy dictates that NYPD officers may not issue criminal summonses for these low-level offenses, and must place offenders under arrest. For instance, individuals found to have an open summons warrant on their record must be arrested and processed, even if the new offense is a violation-level offense. More than 1.1 million New Yorkers have open summons warrants for failing to appear at their specified return date. Currently, if any of those individuals commits another violation, NYPD officers do not have the option of issuing him or her a summons; the individual must be placed under arrest.

Manhattan’s Innovative Summons Initiative

Beginning on Monday, March 7, 2016, unless necessary for public safety reasons, the NYPD will no longer arrest individuals who commit these low-level offenses in Manhattan, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will no longer prosecute most infractions or violations, including:

  • Public Consumption of Alcohol
  • Public Urination
  • Various subway offenses, such as Riding Between Cars, Taking Up More Than One Seat, Feet on the Seat

Should an NYPD officer determine that the public is best served by arresting an individual who would ordinarily receive a criminal summons, that officer will still have the option to do so. Additionally, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute all penal law violations, including:

  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Trespassing
  • Loitering
  • Harassment in the Second Degree

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will also continue to prosecute non-penal law violations or infractions involving drugs, vehicular offenses, and weapons, including:

  • Leaving the Scene Without Reporting Property Damage
  • Driving While Impaired
  • Unlicensed Driving
  • Possession of Knives Greater than Four Inches
  • Possession of Knives Outside of Clothing
  • Possession and Sale of Synthetic Cannabinoids

Under the new initiative – which was developed jointly by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and NYPD in full consultation with the Office of Court Administration over the past year – if an individual receiving a criminal summons is found to have an open summons warrant or another New York County warrant, he or she will not be placed under arrest and processed, but instead, will be taken directly to one of the Arraignment Parts of the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building at 100 Centre Street to face a judge on both the summons matter and outstanding warrant. Public defenders will be available to provide counsel to those who cannot afford representation.

Additionally, under this initiative, if a summons recipient is unable to produce a photo ID, he or she will not automatically be arrested. Instead, that individual will be taken to a precinct and given time to have someone bring their identification and, after doing so, may leave with a criminal summons requiring their appearance in the Summons Appearance Part at a later date.

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