While he did not announce whether he had decided to run for re-election in 2019, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown delivered his year-end message Monday in which he noted the borough was once again among the city’s leaders in crime reduction in 2018.
Based on preliminary statistics by the NYPD, Queens saw an overall 2.7 percent decline in serious crime from the previous year with the downward trend led by an 11.4 percent drop in robberies and a 17.2 percent drop in burglaries.
“This was another extremely successful year for the Queens District Attorney’s Office,” Brown said. “In 2017, we had a record low number of homicides in Queens County and 2018 continued that trend with remarkably fewer homicides than in the past. This last year there were 63 murders. This is a dramatic change from just over 25 years ago when I became the district attorney. In 1992, there were 341 murders. This astounding decrease in deaths makes a real difference in the lives of the people of Queens.”
Brown added it was the fifth-lowest total in homicides since 1965 — when Lyndon B. Johnson was president, gas was 31 cents a gallon and The Beatles played at Shea Stadium.
“I believe without a shadow of a doubt, that we are the best prosecutor’s office in this great nation,” Brown said. “This year we handled 50,000 arrests. Each and every one of those cases were handled judiciously, efficiently and fairly. We have consistently maintained the best arrest to arraignment time in the city. Faster than any other borough, we get our police officers back where they can do the most good — on the streets fighting crime and protecting our citizens.”
The DA stated that his office is not just focused on prosecuting criminals, but also working on innovative ways to combat criminal activity and to help those truly in need when they come in contact with the judicial system.
“To combat the ever-growing opioid epidemic in Queens County, we are taking the necessary steps to intervene and help abusers of this highly addictive drug,” Brown said. “The Queens Treatment Intervention Program, better known as QTIP, is our newest initiative to strike down the skyrocketing numbers of overdose deaths and near deaths. For misdemeanor non-violent defendants, QTIP provides clinical assessments, treatment options and the possibility of getting not only a clean slate with an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, but also a clean start for a drug-free future.”
Brown also warned of the growing dangers of fentanyl, the synthetic drug that, when mixed with heroin, becomes 50 times more potent than heroin. In 2018, there were 229 cases of suspected fatal drug overdoses and nearly a third of those cases involving fentanyl.
To date, not a single person participating in QTIP has received any jail time. Brown told the story of a young pregnant lady who was so addicted, shooting 20 bags of heroin everyday. The DA’s office got her into a detox and afterward to a state-sponsored addiction treatment facility where she completed a six-week program. He said the young lady gave birth in July and his since been reunited with her baby and is doing well in her outpatient treatment here in Queens.
“Through our law enforcement initiatives and the implementation of an array of ground-breaking interventions and prevention programs, we have made incredible progress in accomplishing that goal,” Brown said. The DA was appointed by then-Governor Mario Cuomo in 1991.
“Over the last 25 years overall, crime in Queens is down 82.5 percent,” Brown said. “Murders — a benchmark for both prosecutors and police — have fallen 77.6 percent and burglaries are down 89.2 percent; robberies are down 85.2 percent; grand larcenies are down 51.1 percent; rapes are down 30.8 percent; felony assaults are down 42.3 percent; and auto thefts are down an astounding 96.3 percent.”
Brown said his office would continue to fight child sex trafficking, domestic violence, animal abuse, hate crimes, illegal cigarette trafficking and organized trademark counterfeiting rings, bogus credit card manufacturing crews.
“I am extremely optimistic about the coming year and our future,” Brown said. “We will continue to work tirelessly to make sure everyone who lives, works and visits Queens County feels safe and secure. We are dedicated to partnering with our law enforcement colleagues to continue to drive down crime and give each and every citizen a better quality of life in 2019.”
The 85-year-old district attorney did not say he would run for an eighth term in November. Three challengers, however, have already emerged: Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Councilman Rory Lancman and retired Judge Greg Lasak.