New York City Police Need to Be Held Accountable for Rising Crime, Andrew Yang Says

New York City mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang believes that the city's police need to be held accountable for rising crime rates while also addressing cultural concerns within the police department.

In the summer of 2020, New York City took center stage as Black Lives Matter and anti-racism demonstrations spread across the country. A number of violent encounters between city police officers and demonstrators went viral, as activists demanded an end to systemic racism in the justice system. At the same time, crime rates have risen in the city, and many New Yorkers have increasing concerns about their safety and security.

Yang told Newsweek in an interview last Thursday that both issues are connected and need to be addressed.

The former Democratic presidential candidate said that the city needs to be "mindful" of the need to "bring down the rates of violent crime that are rising." He said this is "not mutually exclusive" from addressing concerns about systematic racism and the sometimes violent actions of police.

Andrew Yang
New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang speaks at a press conference on January 14. Michael M. Santiago/Getty

"They actually should go hand in hand. You need to improve police culture while also holding police accountable to bring their resolution rates for violent crime up. Unfortunately, they are going down right now," Yang said. "That is another form of police accountability—if you have higher rates of unsolved crimes, that is not a trend that you want to continue."

Newsweek reached out to the New York City Police Benevolent Association—the city's police union—for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

At the end of 2020, the NYPD released statistics showing that the city had seen a 97 percent jump in shootings compared with the previous year, as well as a 45 percent jump in murders. There were more than 420 murders in 2020—over 140 more than the city saw in 2019. Shootings nearly doubled last year, rising dramatically from 777 in 2019 to 1,531 across the city's five boroughs in 2020.

Meanwhile, as Yang pointed out, the vast majority of New York City's shootings went unsolved in 2020. The police department's clearance rate for shootings—which means at least one suspect was arrested—stood just below 32 percent. Even fewer of those arrests resulted in prosecution and conviction.

Yang also wants to address widespread concerns about police culture and racism.

"I proposed a civilian police commissioner who will be independent of the culture of the NYPD. If you're going to change the culture of an organization it has to start at the top," the mayoral candidate said. He also said he wants new police officers to reside in the city and criticized the current bail system.

"You know, there are people who are unable to pay fines and whatnot, who are unable to make bail, that are being incarcerated that should not be. It's something that I'm very passionate about," Yang said.