New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio ripped the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday after it referred to his city’s “soft on crime” stance while trying to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities.
The Democratic mayor called the remark “unacceptable,” “outrageous” and “absurd” during a press conference alongside New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner James O’Neill.
The Trump administration’s statement earlier Friday “has denigrated not only the people of New York City but the men and women of the NYPD,” De Blasio said, adding that it “flies in the face of everything we have seen in the last quarter century in this city.”
“We did not become the safest big city in America by being ‘soft on crime,'” De Blasio said.
“It just shows how out of touch this administration is with what is happening in this city.”
The DOJ sent letters Friday to nine “sanctuary cities” including New York demanding that they help enforce federal immigration law or risk losing federal grants. The Trump administration requested documentation that the cities are complying with federal law, not refusing to assist federal officials with immigration enforcement.
The DOJ said in a release announcing the letters to officials in New York and other cities that “many of these jurisdictions are also crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime.”
“New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance,” the DOJ asserted.
New York officials rebuffed that claim.
“My blood began to boil,” O’Neill said of his reaction to the statement.
“To say we’re soft on crime is absolutely ludicrous,” he added, calling the DOJ statement “incredibly insulting” and “absolutely outrageous.”
In a terse statement on its website, the NYPD commissioner criticized the Trump administration’s “willful disregard for the facts,” saying that New York “is experiencing a steady decline in overall crime that includes major reductions in murder and shootings.”
Murder has fallen 82 percent in the city since 1993, while the number of shootings has dropped 81 percent and overall crime is down 76 percent, he said.
“In fact, 2016 saw the fewest shootings ever in New York City history since record keeping began. Year to date the City is down an additional 17% from last year’s record low,” O’Neill said in the statement.
De Blasio called for Trump administration officials to renounce the statement.
“I would say to President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, if you believe this statement is accurate, come to New York City, look our police officers in the eye and tell them that you believe that they are soft on crime. See how that feels,” he said.