The Trace: New York City’s Project Fast Track Gun Court an Abject Failure

NYPD gun bust (courtesy instagy.com)

Sometimes I feel sorry for Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun agitprop machine The Trace. For some reason, the former Mayor of New York hired actual journalists to do his dirty work. Despite considerable evidence to the contrary (e.g., The New York Times), journalists are required to present the facts of a story. So when The Trace’s jobbing journos tackled a story about New York City’s Project Fast Track gun court program, part of the City’s 200-member gun suppression division, they come face-to-face with its failure.

Police are also making lots of weapons arrests. In 2015, there were more than 13,000 arrests where weapons charges were the top offense, 54 percent more than in crime-fighter Rudy Giuliani’s final year in office.

Conviction rates, however, have not kept pace with the climbing case load. Statistics from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice indicate that the ratio of convictions to arrests in cases where a weapons charge was the top offense dropped to 18 percent from 2009 to 2013, down from 40 percent in the 1994 to 1998 period.

The above info is buried in Jarret Murphy’s story, but it’s impossible to avoid the simple truth: the City’s hugely expensive effort to “get guns off the street” is a bust. Speaking of busts, the reason conviction rates suck is bad or at least “difficult” police work.

Seems it’s beyond the NYPD’s powers to establish probable cause for many if not most of their stops. Not to mention the cops’ inability to preserve evidence or establish ownership of the errant firearm (or the department’s lack of enthusiasm for fingerprinting confiscated weapons).

“Officers have a difficult time because they’re not legal experts,” Brooklyn Law School professor Bennett Capers points out, helpfully enough. Surprisingly, The Trace gives Mr. Capers’ common sense criticism of the entire effort column inches — before finding a quote that puts lipstick on the proverbial pig.

As powerful as the desire to remove guns from circulation might be, Capers wonders if resources might be better spent focusing on the guns that actually have been used to commit crimes. “I’m always sort of thinking, our homicide clearance rate is still way too low. We only solve two thirds of homicides,” he says. Nationally, the FBI reports a homicide clearance rate of 64 percent; it can be much lower in high-crime cities. “There are people who’ve already been shot. We ought to address that too.”

Or maybe the effectiveness of gun courts at surmounting the challenges of evidence en route to swift and certain justice is beside the point. As LaBahn notes, even when an illegal gun is ruled inadmissible in court and the person accused of carrying it goes free, they don’t get their firearm back.

“At a minimum,” he says, “you’re taking that gun off the street.”

If the 200-member team confiscates one gun, it’s worth it? I don’t think so.

comments

  1. avatar strych9 says:

    Just look at the badasses that got that gun!

    Seriously, police work must be the only civilian job other than bartending where you can get where full sleeve tattoos, uncovered by sleeves, is not considered a problem when dealing with the public.

    1. avatar NorincoJay says:

      Yeah, that whole group of cops look like thugs to me.

      1. avatar Jeremy B. says:

        As a plainclothes cop, that’s probably the point.

    2. avatar surlycmd says:

      Delivering auto parts to local shops works for me. No one complains about the tattoos on my arms. I do receive compliments on occasion.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        I’m sure you do but that’s not a job dealing with the public in the capacity that police officer does. It’s a whole different kettle of fish.

        Personally I keep all my ink covered because I’ve seen people lose out on jobs and even get fired over someone getting offended by tattoos. It depends on the business you’re in and what part of the country you’re in.

        1. avatar surlycmd says:

          Fair point.

    3. avatar Red in CO says:

      Newsflash, old man: Tattoos are a regular fact of life (and an awesome form of self-expression) for a TON of normal, law-abiding Americans. But hey, I’m sorry that the stigma attached to a positive activity that harms nobody is gone. Oh wait, no I’m not.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        Newsflash for you:

        I’m 32 and I have more ink than most. While it may seem OK here in Colorado, if you head back East, even in the Midwest many jobs that involve dealing with the public will not hire you if you have visible ink. Head on down Santa Fe way and if a guest at a high end restaurant notices you have ink and complains you’re canned.

        When I say “dealing with the public” I mean jobs that involve face to face work with the public on a daily basis. You’re not getting a bank job with a lot of ink you can’t or won’t cover up. Same with most businesses where you have to deal with the general public, and that applies here in Colorado too. Sure you can get a job doing something like waiting tables or bartending but try showing up to an interview at Lockheed with visible ink like in this picture and see if you get the job.

        There are not a lot of jobs that involve working with the public (I’m not talking welders or construction or delivery jobs here) that will allow you to rock full sleeve tattoos and short sleeve shirts. Then there are businesses that want a professional atmosphere where showing off your full sleeves is frowned upon to the point they’ll nearly never hire someone if they know they’ve got that kind of ink.

        Hell, you can’t even get into Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children with sleeve tattoos these days.

        1. avatar Crowbar says:

          I agree with you. I have 3 half sleeves. One on each arm and one leg. I can cover all my ink when working in a courthouse or meeting clients. Even with all my ink, I personally cannot stand face, hand, or neck tattoos. My opinion only. I won’the hire anybody with them either.

        2. avatar strych9 says:

          @Crowbar:

          You understand that visible tattoos are not acceptable in a professional atmosphere. Some people just don’t seem to get that.

          I care not about your “expression” or even if you have ink or not. Showing it off at work is unprofessional. Wear full length sleeves on your clothes or don’t get full sleeve tattoos. Especially when you’re a public servant.

        3. avatar 16V says:

          I am completely cool with sleeves – on my strippers.

          Seriously, this isn’t professionally acceptable, unless you’re a barista. Otherwise, everyone expects you to hide them, while working, if you expect to be considered professional.

          Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah. The fact is that a black suit, white shirt, and red tie is the uniform. There’s a reason for that, which I shan’t bother to explain. Bottom line, if you want to be taken seriously, cover your effen ink.

          Unless you’re a woman seeing me naked, you aren’t going to know about mine.

      2. avatar neiowa says:

        Moronic “self-expression” was not invented in the last 15y. BUT PERMENANT publically displayed stupidity (that one can’t easily delete when you GROWUP) is new. Tattoos and social media posts are certainly the most prominent.

        As good ole moms used to say “if everyone else jumped off a bridge ……..”

    4. avatar doesky2 says:

      Looks like they could instill a lot of fear into…..the chairs at the local pizza joint.

  2. avatar Parnell says:

    i recently sat on a grand jury in NJ and really got pissed at the way the Prosecutor’s office kept kicking gun offenses off to the Feds. It was like they made them plea bargain options in every case and I doubt the Feds will ever prosecute them. Of course, each case involved illegally obtained firearms. I wonder if a lagel gun owner would get off so easily.

  3. avatar Pantera Vazquez says:

    Didn’t work, no surprise here. But, but we gotta do Something!!! Wash, rinse, repeat……

    BwahAhahahahah.

  4. avatar Ralph says:

    No surprise here. Everything that Mayor Bill De Blasio (fka Warren Wilhelm) does is an abject failure.

    Now that Bill Bratton has left his job as police commissioner, things will get even worse.

    NYC is the safest big city in the US — for now. But the long, slow slide down the porcelain convenience is well underway.

    1. avatar Greg in Allston says:

      Maybe Billy Boy will bring Garry McCarthy back for the top cop slot. A marriage made in Hades, which is where NYC seems to be heading with all due haste and determination.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        McCarthy back in NYC? Pass the popcorn!

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          Would that be similar to the Frank Rizzo situation in Philadelphia in the late 70’s? 🙂

        2. avatar Geoff PR says:

          “Just wait after November you’ll have a front row seat because I’m going to make Attila the Hun look like a faggot.”

          — Rizzo, during his 1975 reelection campaign

        3. avatar gs650g says:

          The picture of Frank Rizzo in a tux with a night stick in his belt emerging from a hotel neatly summed him up.

  5. avatar Bobiojimbo says:

    Since we (as a nation) seem to drop so many gun-related charges, why don’t we just drop the laws all together? It’s a rhetorical question, but it would help to simplify our laws, and help focus on prosecuting and convicting actual evil acts.

    1. avatar Chip in Florida says:

      I ask the same question a lot and few ever actually answer it…. If murder is illegal why do we need a second law that says murder with a firearm is illegal? Is the murder made more illegal by a firearm? Or is a murder with a baseball bat less illegal?

      And having the ‘extra’ laws actually makes it *harder* to prosecute because now the prosecuting authority can shop through a list of possible charges and choose which one to actually prosecute. You killed somebody but if you tell us who hired you to do it we’ll reduce you to some lesser charge that only has ten years of jail time instead of the 25 you were going to get.

      1. avatar Red in CO says:

        Exactly. Based on anecdotal evidence, I’d say that the average number of charges for a single event is somewhere between 5 and 10. Usually, there will be the major charge and then a bunch of little auxiliary ones. For example, in an armed robbery (and this is just off the top of my head, a clever prosecutor could come up with much more), the accused could be charged with: aggravated robbery, 2 counts of illegally carrying a concealed firearm (it went into concealment prior to the robbery, came out, then went back into concealment before the perp left the sore), and at least one count of menacing (though you could also multiply that by the number of people in the store at the time of the robbery). All of which are felonies. So, you have prosecutors making pleas sound even better by saying, “hey, you’re being charged with 10 felonies right now, but if you sign this plea, we’ll drop 9 of them and give you three years. And you’ll be eligible for parole after half that”.

  6. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    “Officers have a difficult time because they’re not legal experts,”

    Now that’s funny right there.

    1. avatar DaveL says:

      Especially in light of Heien v. North Carolina and Utah v. Streiff, I have to wonder just how bad you have to be to get so many cases thrown out.

    2. avatar BDub says:

      Yeah, that made me chuckle as well.

  7. avatar Sad88 says:

    So, let’s see. The guy on the left has to put on the tough guy face cause he’s short and fat, the guy in the rear is the janitor who was just wandering by, second from left is cranky because he knows the program is a sham and the guy in the rear is touching his butt, smiley is stoned and doesn’t know why he is there and the guy on the right is thinking “Okay, I’m the only black guy in the room. Where’s Sharpton and the BLM when I need them. One of these white cops might shoot me for standing while black.”

    1. avatar Another Gray Man says:

      5 assholes standing in front of a gun. I’m so damn proud of em. I wonder how many constitutional rights those 5 are able to eviscerate in a single shift?

      1. avatar Red in CO says:

        Probably all of them. This looks like a group with some ingenuity, what with their ability to combine each of their single brain cells.

        1. avatar 16V says:

          “WonderQuintsPowers, activate!

  8. avatar gs650g says:

    I thought cops were super humans trained and experienced beyond us normal subjects? Now we see they can’t do probable cause or even basic police work taught in the academy?

  9. avatar Rick the Bear (now in NH!!) says:

    As I recall, Jamaica’s gun court didn’t solve their violence with guns problem either. At least that court made it into a song (“No Woman, No Cry”). Who’s going to write about NYC’s court?

  10. avatar Stinkeye says:

    Guys, stop making fun of the picture. There’s been a mix-up, and it’s not even supposed to go with this story. That photo is a promotional shot from the short-lived “Law & Order: Special Needs Unit”.

    1. avatar Red in CO says:

      Ok, that made me laugh. Nicely done, Stinkeye

    2. avatar strych9 says:

      Bwahahahaha!

      Nicely played.

    3. avatar Crowbar says:

      Outstanding!!

  11. avatar MiniMe says:

    “Sometimes I feel sorry for Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun agitprop machine The Trace.”

    Surely, you can’t be serious.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      He may or may not be serious. But don’t call him surely.

  12. avatar A. C. says:

    WHAT?! An “actual journalist?” Not on any MSM organization. They are Democratic Party aparatchiki (operatives) with bylines.

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