A report obtained by Alb Media last week showing a nearly 6.5% drop in major crimes in Nassau County in the first 11 months of 2023 is good news and not-so-good news.

The good news is that compared to the first 11 months of 2022, there was an 18% decrease in stolen vehicles, a 16% decrease in residential burglaries, a 7% decrease in grand larcenies, a 30% decrease in rapes and no change in murders, which totaled six.

The only blemishes were an 8% increase in a category called robbery other, a 14% increase in commercial robberies and a 5% increase in felony assault.

The not-so-good news is that as of this week no year-end numbers have been made available by the Nassau County Police Department for all 12 months of 2023 and no information was made available by precinct.

The Police Department posted year-to-year comparisons for the first five months of 2023 in June on its Strat—Com website, only to take it down a few months later.

This continued the department's longstanding history of only sporadically releasing crime statistics to the public, including county legislators.

Alb Media has been forced in the past to submit Freedom of Information Law requests for crime statistics that can take weeks or months for the newspaper to receive.

In contrast, the New York City Police Department releases crime statistics monthly, often with an explanation of how it plans to address problem areas.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman did report in a recent newsletter that major crimes were down over 6% for the entire year, but only cited residential burglaries, stolen vehicles and grand larceny. No precinct breakdowns were included.

Blakeman credited “intelligence-led policing strategies and financial investments in police” for the decrease in crime.

This is less impressive than it sounds since the 6% decrease in major crimes in Nassau in 2023 follows a 41% increase in 2022 led by a spike in property crimes.

This compared to a 15% increase in major crimes in Suffolk County and a 22% jump in 2022 in New York City tempered by a year-end drop

New York City showed a very slight decline in 2023 despite significant drops in the number of shootings, murders, robberies, burglaries, sexual assaults and grand larcenies.

The Nassau County police appear to have taken a major step forward by posting year-to-year crime statistics for January 2024 through Jan. 29 on the Strat-Com police website, which does include breakdowns by precinct.

The results are encouraging, showing a 10.5% decrease in major crimes countywide led by stolen vehicles and grand larceny, both down 18%.  

But we'll see how long it takes them to post the rest of January and the full months of February and March and what the results are before celebrating.

It remains a mystery why county legislators of both parties have said nothing publicly about the lack of information provided on crime. This topic has dominated Nassau County politics in recent years and is important to voters.

Blakeman, Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly and Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Phillips swept to victory in 2021 in a campaign that blamed cashless bail laws approved by Democrats in the state Legislature for a sharp rise in crime in New York.

Blakeman was joined by then-Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin in focusing on bail reform during Zeldin's 2022 campaign for governor.

Nassau County Republican Legislator Mazi Pilip recently focused her congressional campaign on immigration, claiming that migrants were responsible for “blood in the streets” and other crimes - even as the crime rate dropped

And just last week, Blakeman literally held an umbrella for former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, at the wake of slain NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller in Massapequa.

“We have to stop it, we have to stop it,” Trump said with Blakeman and Nassau County Police Commissioner Pat Ryder looking on. “We have to get back to law and order.”

This was the height of hypocrisy on the part of Trump, who had orchestrated an attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that resulted in more than 140 Capitol and District of Columbia police being injured and five deaths in an effort to overturn the presidential election.

For three hours, Trump watched on television without taking action while police were being beaten, pepper sprayed and tased.  He expressed sympathy for the rioters and concluded by saying: “We love you, you’re very special.”

The father and brother of Brian Sicknick, one of the police officers who died following the Jan. 6 riots, blasted Trump’s appearance at the wake as a highly inappropriate political stunt.

The family members were correct. Trump was also dishonest in implying crime was going up. After a sharp rise in crime nationally following COVID, the nation's crime rate has come down dramatically with 2023 showing fewer crimes than 2019, which was the best year of the Trump administration.

But raising fears about crime is a common tactic for Trump and Nassau Republicans so expect it to continue through this election season.

This tactic may explain why Nassau County did not release crime statistics for the second half of 2023. It's hard to talk about blood in the streets with six homicides - the same as the year before.

During his campaign for county executive in 2021, Blakeman repeatedly questioned U.S. News and World Report for twice calling Nassau County the safest county in the United States.

Blakeman again criticized bail reform in his recent taxpayer-funded newsletter on crime in Nassau County titled “BLAKEMAN ADDS MORE COPS  TO NASSAU STREETS.”

Blakeman said cashless bail laws “continue to threaten our safety” and called for them to be entirely repealed.

“Recent reports indicate that 12,000 people were arrested in 2023 and released from jail without bail due to “dangerous Cashless Bail Laws approved by Albany lawmakers,” he said. “A significant percentage of those released were re-arrested for committing additional crimes.”

Bail laws enacted in 2020 eliminated cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent crimes in the state, which had resulted in tens of thousands of people, overwhelmingly black and brown, being imprisoned for weeks, months and years because they were poor.

The imprisonment resulted in lost jobs and broken families for people innocent in the eyes of the law. It is impossible to ignore the racial component of this.

But the bail reforms were poorly written, giving judges too little discretion and exempting too many crimes from bail.

They have since been amended twice to correct the deficiencies.

Could the laws be further improved? Probably. But so could how judges and prosecutors handle the sentencing of those found guilty of committing a crime – particularly those with a history of having committed crimes previously.

A study by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services and various media found that reform has played no more than a small part in the rise in crime in New York.

If the Republicans have any proof otherwise, we are still waiting to hear it.

The same can be said for Blakeman’s claim that 12,000 people were arrested in 2023 and released from jail without bail due to “dangerous Cashless Bail Laws approved by Albany lawmakers.”

If they were, that was the point of the legislation – to prevent thousands of people charged with misdemeanors and non-violent crimes from being imprisoned while others with greater financial resources get set free.

The question is whether those releases increased crime.

Blakeman does not give the actual percentage of those released who were rearrested, the source of his claim or the percentage of people who made bail who were rearrested for committing additional crime.

He has also been silent about people like the last Republican Nassau County executive before him.

Ed Mangano remained free three years after he was convicted of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, federal program bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

That’s three years after he was convicted – not merely charged - of serious federal crimes committed when he was county executive.

The safety of Nassau County residents requires an honest accounting of crime presented in a timely fashion. Not rhetoric intended to scare and divide us.

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