NEW YORK - Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for statewide reforms to bail and diversion programs after it was discovered that the man accused of killing an NYPD officer in Harlem had been ordered into a diversion program by a judge last year.
De Blasio says that Tyrone Howard, the man accused of killing Officer Randolph Holder, should not have been on the streets. Howard had been in a diversion treatment program last year following his arrest as an alternative to incarceration.
According to police officials, Howard had been arrested 18 times since he was a teenager for numerous drug charges and a shooting in 2009, although Howard was not prosecuted for that shooting. De Blasio said, "Tyrone Howard would have gone to jail. He would not have continued to poison the community around him by selling drugs. He would not have been roaming around East Harlem Tuesday and one of NYPD’s good decent hardworking cops would have been alive today."
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The diversion program Howard was offered included addiction treatment, counseling and random drug tests. De Blasio said the program can be a useful alternative for those that are sent to jail as a first-time offender or have committed low-level crimes.
The judge who recommended the program to Howard has defended his decision, saying it was accurate and appropriate at the time. New York is currently one of the three states that does not allow judges to consider level of danger when setting bail. Judges are only allowed to consider a defendant’s flight risk.
De Blasio’s solution is to allow judges to consider the defendant's risk to public safety when setting bail and considering alternatives to incarceration.