Five of New York’s leading Democratic candidates for mayor met on the debate stage Thursday night at the CBS Broadcast Center. WCBS reporter Marcia Kramer asked the candidates if they thought the guns should be taken away from the police, and four of the candidates said no, Maya Wiley said she was “not ready” to answer this question during a debate.
MARCIA KRAMER: The next question will go to Maya Wiley. Miss Wiley, Attorney General Tish James is proposing legislation to limit cops firing their guns, the use of force as a last resort. Now, some might ask, why not go all the way and withdraw guns like they do in 19 other countries where the bulk of the police force is unarmed?
MAYA WILEY: Well listen, you know, one of the things we have to do is recognize that the mayor’s job is security. Safety is the first job, and I will keep New Yorkers safe when I am mayor.
MARCIA KRAMER: Are you going to take away their weapons?
MAYA WILEY: And that means we want smart police. I think we know we have a problem with illegal guns entering this city. We have the toughest gun control laws in the land, the problem is how they get in. So we want a police service that focuses on keeping them out of town and off our streets.
MARCIA KRAMER: But will you withdraw the weapons from the NYPD?
MAYA WILEY: I am not ready to make this decision in a debate. I am going to have a civilian commissioner and a civilian commission that 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 spike in crime – especially gun violence – in this city. We need to keep New Yorkers safe regardless of their skin color, and that’s why I have a plan to get guns off the streets. And I’m definitely not going …
MARCIA KRAMER: Are you going to withdraw the weapons from the police?
KATHRYN GARCIA: I’m not going to take the guns away from the police. They face criminals who have guns, and that’s why my goal is to make sure that we get the guns out of criminals’ hands so that we don’t lose any more children. The last thing a parent wants to know is that their child has been killed by random gun violence.
It is imperative to ensure that the police focus on this, that we increase the size of the gun suppression division, that we have neighborhood police departments and that we proceed with the gun buyback. . Because when we do this, we make all of our communities safer, and it’s imperative for us to rebuild the economy. And I understand how to do this because I have been a uniform manager. I understand uniform agencies and how to operate them.
MARCIA KRAMER: Mr. Stringer?
SCOTT STRINGER: We do not take guns from the police. We will make sure to create a police force that is focused on eradicating violent crime and at the same time guaranteeing 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 will not come back to it when I am mayor.
But here’s what we’re going to do – we’re not going to think of every criminal justice solution as a badge and a gun. We need to invest in helping our children stay away from criminal justice and prisons, and the way to do that is to invest in children with jobs and internships, making sure they have the opportunity to be the kind of human beings that they want to be, but they don’t have economic opportunities.
We have to walk and chew gum at the same time. And we need a mayor with real government experience, who will not back down, and transform a public safety plan that will ensure that our neighborhoods prosper economically through the prism of social justice and, yes, to eradicate violence because we need to keep our city safe.
MARCIA KRAMER: Mr. Adams?
ERIC ADAMS: No I will not. And it is imperative that we have properly trained police officers. Marcia, I’ll never forget during what was called 8 Ps at the time, taking the 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. subway during those hours that Scott Stringer said when there was a woman on the train, she had a knife trying to stab someone, swinging wildly. And I had to make a decision: do I shoot my gun with other passengers on it to hit them, or do I need to take action? And I had to tear that knife from him.
So it is not a question of carrying the weapon, it is a question of knowing how to have the right training so as not to harm the innocent and not to harm yourself. So no, I wouldn’t. We have an excessive proliferation of guns in our city, and we need to make sure that we reduce the flow of guns into our city and that we have, what I believe, a unit that focuses on guns. illegal fires that are in our city.
MARCIA KRAMER: Mr. Yang?
ANDRE YANG: Of course not. The police must be equipped to fight crime in all circumstances. And if anything, we must launch a massive recruitment drive for new police officers. We are losing about 5,000 retired officers. I was in Brownsville the other day, and someone told me something that should be our mission. He said, I would love for the policeman patrolling our neighborhood to come from our neighborhood and look like me.
We need a 21st century font that reflects the incredible diversity of our city. We should recruit very aggressively and ambitiously among black and Latino communities, Muslim, Asian, Jewish women. If we do this, then we can allay the concerns of many New Yorkers, but also contribute to real security, because security is the first step to any recovery right now.
Every New Yorker I talk to is deeply concerned that we don’t feel safe on our streets, in our subways. We’re going to need the police to turn the tide. My first act as mayor will be to go to the police and say, we need you, the city needs you. We need you to lead our recovery. We need you to do your job in a professional, responsible and fair manner, and that’s how a recovery will begin.
MAYA WILEY: Marcia, can I quickly find out about Brownsville?
MARCIA KRAMER: 15 seconds, 15 seconds.
MAYA WILEY: This is extremely important, because we were all in Brownsville for an interview with the …
MARCIA KRAMER: 15 seconds.
MAYA WILEY: –crime interrupters who said explicitly, no more police, no more investment in community organizations. The safest they had ever felt were the five days they asked the police department to step back so they could prevent violence.
MARCIA KRAMER: Your time is up.