Democrats running for NYC mayor on taking away police guns
Five of the leading Democratic candidates for New York City mayor's office met on the Debate Stage at the CBS Broadcast Center Thursday night. WCBS reporter Marcia Kramer asked candidates if they thought guns should be taken from the police, and four of the candidates said no, while Maya Wiley said she was "unwilling" to answer that question in a debate.
MARCIA KRAMER: The next question is for Maya Wiley. Miss Wiley, Attorney General Tish James is proposing a law to prevent police from firing their guns and the use of force as a last resort. Now some might wonder why not go all the way and take away the guns altogether, as they are doing in 19 other countries where most of the police are unarmed?
MAYA WILEY: See, you know, one of the things we have to do is acknowledge that the mayor's job is security. Safety is job one and I'll protect New Yorkers when I'm mayor.
MARCIA KRAMER: Do you want to take their guns away from them?
MAYA WILEY: And that means that we want intelligent police work. I think we know we have a problem with illegal guns coming into this city. We have the strongest gun control laws in the country, the question is how do they get in. So we want a police department that is focused on keeping them out of the city and our streets.
MARCIA KRAMER: But are you going to take the weapons away from the NYPD?
MAYA WILEY: I am not ready to make that decision in a debate. I will have a civilian commissioner and a civilian commission who will hold the police accountable and ensure that we are safe from crime, but also from police violence.
MARCIA KRAMER: Mrs. Garcia?
KATHRYN GARCIA: We have seen a real increase in crime - especially gun violence - in this town. We have to protect New Yorkers regardless of their skin color, and that's why I plan to get guns off the streets. And I definitely won't--
MARCIA KRAMER: Do you want to take guns from the police?
KATHRYN GARCIA: I'm not going to take guns away from the police. You face criminal people who have guns and that's why my focus is on getting guns out of the criminals' hands so we don't lose any more children. The last thing parents want to know is that their child was killed by arbitrary gun violence.
It is imperative that we make sure that the police are focused, that we are expanding the weapon suppression department, that we have neighborhood police and that we are carrying out arms buybacks. Because if we do this we will all make our communities safer, and that is essential for us to rebuild the economy. And I understand how to do that because I was a uniform manager. I understand unified agencies and how to get them up and running.
MARCIA KRAMER: Mr. Stringer?
SCOTT STRINGER: We're not taking guns away from the police. We will ensure that we create a police force that is focused on eradicating violent crime while safeguarding the civil rights of our young people, especially in our Black and Brown communities. Let's face it, I'm a kid from Washington Heights. I grew up in the 1970s when there were 2,000 murders a year. I remember when the A train was a rolling crime scene. We won't come back to this when I'm mayor.
But here's what we're going to do: We're not going to think that every solution to criminal justice is a badge and a gun. We need to invest to help our children stay out of criminal justice and prisons, and the way to do that is by investing in children with jobs and internships to ensure they have the opportunity to experience the art of people to be who they want it to be, but they have no economic opportunities.
We have to run and chew gum at the same time. And we need a mayor with real government experience who doesn't give in and who implements a public safety plan that will make our neighborhoods thrive through the lens of social justice and eradicate violence because we have to keep our city safe.
MARCIA KRAMER: Mr. Adams?
ERIC ADAMS: No, I wouldn't. And it is imperative that we have police officers who are well trained. Marcia, I will never forget during what was then called the 8 Ps on the subway from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. the times Scott Stringer said there was a woman on the train - She had a knife that was trying to stab someone, swinging wildly. And I had to make a decision - do I pull out my firearm with other passengers to strike them, or do I take action? And I had to snatch the knife from her.
So it's not about carrying the gun, but knowing how to have the right training so as not to harm innocent people and not harm yourself. So no, I wouldn't. We have an excessive proliferation of arms in our city and we need to make sure that we reduce the flow of arms in our city and, in my opinion, have a unit that focuses on the illegal arms in our city.
MARCIA KRAMER: Mr. Yang?
ANDREW YANG: Of course not. The police must be prepared under all circumstances to fight crime. And if anything, we need to start a massive recruiting campaign for new police officers. We're losing about 5,000 officers to retirement. I was in Brownsville the other day and someone told me something that should be our mission. He said I would love if the cop patrolling our neighborhood came from our neighborhood and looked like me.
We need a 21st century police force that reflects the incredible diversity of our city. We should be very aggressive and ambitious in recruiting among black and Latin American communities, Muslim, Asian and Jewish women. By doing this, we can alleviate the worries of many New Yorkers, but also contribute to real safety, because safety is the first step to recovery right now.
Every New Yorker I speak to is deeply concerned that we don't feel safe on our streets, on our subways. We're going to need the police to change that. My first official act as mayor will be to go to the police and say: We need you, the city needs you. We need you to guide our recovery. We need you to do your job professionally, responsibly, and fairly, and that's how recovery begins.
MAYA WILEY: Marcia, can I get into Brownsville quick?
MARCIA KRAMER: 15 seconds, 15 seconds.
MAYA WILEY: Crucially, because we were all in Brownsville for an interview with the--
MARCIA KRAMER: 15 seconds.
MAYA WILEY: - Crime interrupters who specifically said no more cops, more investments in community-based organizations. The safest place they ever felt was the five days they asked the police to stand down to prevent violence.
MARCIA KRAMER: Your time is up.
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