NEW YORK CITY — Despite Mayor Michael Bloomberg heralding a record-low number of inmates in city jails, the amount of people arrested during his administration is the highest in city history, DNAinfo.com New York has found.
In fact, the number of NYPD arrests in the Big Apple has jumped nearly 23 percent since Bloomberg took office — there were 338,788 collars in 2002 compared to 413,573 last year, police statistics show.
And the number of people caught in the criminal justice system started to climb virtually from the day he took office and appointed Raymond Kelly as his police commissioner.
There were 334,163 collars in 2003 — which was a scant decline from the previous year — but after that the number of arrests jumped to 351,435 in 2004 and continued to climb until it reached a peak of 422,982 arrests in 2010.
Stop-and-frisks, meanwhile, rocketed in New York from 98,000 during Bloomberg’s first year to nearly 700,000 last year — a staggering 600 percent rise that prompted widespread concern of racial profiling by the NYPD because they occurred primarily in minority communities.
Bloomberg said Thursday that 12,125 New Yorkers are held in city jails on an average day — the fewest since 1986 and down 32 percent since 2001 when he took office.
He also claimed the low number demonstrated that crime continued to fall despite the fact there are fewer people in city jails.
“Unlike many other places in this country, we have not cut crime by locking more people up,” Bloomberg said during remarks at the Department of Correction graduation ceremony in the Bronx.
“We’ve cut crime … by preventing crime from occurring,” he said, crediting “proactive strategies designed” to deter criminal activity.
Bloomberg spokesman Marc La Vorgna said that when the mayor referred to people who were locked up, he specifically meant those who were sentenced to jail time.
Still, there are hundreds of thousands of other New Yorkers who are arrested and spun through the legal system, often spending days at a time in cells before their cases are dropped or they are released.
NYPD statistics show that the overwhelming number of arrests involve lower-level and quality-of-life offenders and not of suspects charged with serious felonies.
For example, only 39,758 arrests out of 413,573 made by the NYPD in 2011 were for the seven major crimes — murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft.
In fact, felony arrests are down 16.7 percent during the past 10 years while the total number of arrests is up 17.4 percent during the past decade, according to police statistics.
Part of the reason, as Bloomberg would note, is a more than 30-percent drop in serious crime overall since he took office. But serious crime has been on the increase for the past two years, and is up again this year by another 3.4 percent despite a 21-percent decline in murder, officials figures show.
According to state figures, arrests for marijuana account for roughly 10 percent of all arrests — which is more than for serious felonies. Last year, 49,800 people were arrested on marijuana-related charges, compared to 39,758 arrests for serious crimes.
Court insiders complain that the NYPD has been jamming the system with petty crime collars — and statistics show that nearly 10 percent are dumped at or prior to arraignment, and another 30 percent are closed with suspects given ACDs, or Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissals, which means if they stay out of trouble for six months the case is purged from their records.
“Day after day, people are stuffed into our holding cells for days at a time and then go to court and the prosecutors or judges look at the case and say it is not worth pursuing,” one top court official told “On The Inside.”
They blame the NYPD’s zero-tolerance policy that forces cops to arrest everyone without exercising any discretion.
“There are thousands of cases that would not be here if the cops could use their own judgment like they used to in the past,” the insider said.
However, mayoral spokesman John McCarthy insisted that the NYPD arrest numbers show that the city is committed to tackling "lower-level crime."
Punishments that do not end with jail terms involve alternatives that have positive impacts on suspects and on the quality of life in New York, he said.