2018-02-07 / Political Page

DA Brown’s Annual Legislative Breakfast


Joining Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown (seated 2nd from r.) at his 26th annual Legislative Breakfast are (standing l. to r.): Assembly Members Daniel Rosenthal and Michael DenDekker, Council Member Donovan Richards, NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato and Council Member Karen Koslowitz, (seated l. to r.): Council Members Rory Lancman and Barry Grodenchik, and Borough President Melinda Katz. Joining Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown (seated 2nd from r.) at his 26th annual Legislative Breakfast are (standing l. to r.): Assembly Members Daniel Rosenthal and Michael DenDekker, Council Member Donovan Richards, NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato and Council Member Karen Koslowitz, (seated l. to r.): Council Members Rory Lancman and Barry Grodenchik, and Borough President Melinda Katz. Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown briefed Queens’ elected officials on public safety at his annual legislative breakfast held at his Kew Gardens offices on February 2. The briefing highlighted key accomplishments and major initiatives over the past year.

District Attorney Brown said, “Last year was another eventful and exciting year for us. It was a year in which we were once again among the city’s leaders in crime reduction—and it was a year in which we, as prosecutors, contributed greatly to the city’s historic decline in serious crime through our law enforcement initiatives and the utilization of cutting-edge intervention and prevention programs—which, in turn, have created safer neighborhoods for our residents.”

According to New York City Police Department statistics, last year Queens County has seen an overall reduction in serious crimes of 7.9 percent, surpassing the citywide rate of 5.4 percent.

District Attorney Brown said, “We had only 50 homicides last year, which is the second-lowest number of homicides since 1961—a far cry from the 361 homicides that we had in 1991—my first year as District Attorney.”

Brown continued, “In 2017, we handled over 57,000 arrest cases. And once again, we had the best arrest-to-arraignment time in the city. We also had the highest violent felony conviction rate in the city.”

“One of the contributing factors in helping this office excel at fighting crime is the dramatic advancement in technology,” Brown said. “Using the latest technology enables the office to get involved as quickly as possible with someone from my staff at the scene of crimes, regardless of the hour, at police precincts, hospitals and sometimes in the homes of crime victims. We are completely computerized. We are linked together by modern voicemail, text messaging and mobile phone systems, and our NYPD Command Center keeps us apprised of everything and anything that is happening in Queens County at all hours of the day and night.”

The District Attorney (DA) added that last year the office drafted more than 1,200 search warrants and that the office continues to be the national leader in the number of court-authorized wiretaps it conducts. Last year, the DA’s office coordinated over 21 percent of all the non-federal wiretaps in the entire country.

Brown further said that Queens continued to lead the city in many significant categories, such as:

• Having the highest domestic violence conviction rate in the city and the lowest dismissal rate. The office leads the city in pre-indictment domestic violence pleas.

• Having assistant district attorneys present at police precincts during lineups. Last year assistants supervised nearly 350 lineups at precincts throughout Queens County. The office is the only one in the city to have prosecutors present at every lineup.

• The dismantling of prolific auto theft rings that have resulted in a dramatic decrease in auto crimes. In 1991 Queens County had 52,000 cars reported stolen. Last year that number was down to less than 1,600.

District Attorney Brown said that, in pursuing the office’s mission to increase public safety and reduce crime in 2017, the office was relentless in prosecuting illegal online gambling enterprises, violent gun and drug gangs, prostitution and sex trafficking rings, criminal operations that focused on identity theft, mortgage and insurance fraud, credit card fraud, trademark counterfeiting, as well as legitimate businesses that skimmed tax revenue to cheat the government out of millions of dollars.

In addition, the office continues its aggressive pursuit of those who disseminate and collect child sexual abuse images online and sexual predators who troll the internet in an attempt to meet underage children for sexual relations.

“We have a first-class Child Advocacy Center here on Queens Boulevard that handles all of our child abuse cases,” said District Attorney Brown. “And the Family Justice Center assists victims of domestic violence along with their families.”

The District Attorney also noted several new initiatives launched in recent years, including an Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit, a Mock Trial Competition for local law students, a successful academic conference on Abusive Head Trauma/Shaken Baby Syndrome, and weekend access for the Queens Child Advocacy Center to enhance its ability to service children and families.

They recently commemorated the thirdyear anniversary of the District Attorney’s Office of Immigrant Affairs—created to help the nearly 50 percent of Queens residents born abroad navigate the criminal justice system. The goal is to make sure that all those who live in Queens know how to get help if they are victimized and to assist community members and groups with questions, concerns or complaints and direct them to the appropriate bureaus and divisions within the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

District Attorney Brown noted that, “We have a full time Director of Alternative Sentencing and a broad array of alternative sentencing programs here in Queens. For example, we have both a felony and a misdemeanor Drug Treatment Court, a DWI Treatment Court, a Mental Health Court— and Courts that respond to the needs of our youthful offenders, as well as our returning veterans.”

The District Attorney emphasized that, “We are as much about turning lives around—particularly young lives—as we are about putting the bad guys in jail. We have a host of prevention, education and outreach programs.”

“The Special Prosecutions Unit of my office is a staple at precinct council and community board meetings and frequently provides speakers for schools, community groups and town hall meetings,” District Attorney Brown added.

In addition to staying attuned to the latest technology, the District Attorney’s office is dedicated to staying current with respect to legal issues that it may encounter on any given day. The office offers a variety of continuing legal education programs for the assistants.

“We have a full time Director of Training and our assistants receive intensive and repeated instruction in both ethics and the practice of law throughout their careers,” said District Attorney Brown.

In conclusion, District Attorney Brown said, “We are a busy metropolitan prosecutor’s office of professionals committed to the highest level of professionalism. We are an office that I believe is among the best in the state—indeed the best in the country. We have the respect of our law enforcement colleagues and the confidence of the 2.3 million residents of Queens County, whom we represent, but we need your help to secure the resources necessary to continue to reduce the level of violence within the county and improve the quality of the lives of our residents.”

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