NEW YORK CITY — District attorneys in four of the city's five boroughs will vacate nearly 700,000 open warrants for low-level offenses — but Staten Island's Michael McMahon said the move "sends the wrong message."
The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan DAs said Wednesday they will vacate warrants for people who failed to pay a ticket for minor infractions that have been outstanding for 10 years or longer. Any underlying fines would also be dismissed, a spokesman for the Queens DA's office said.
The measure would help clear out the backlog in courts, increase trust between law enforcement and residents and focus their offices on more serious crimes, the DAs said.
"The bulk of these summonses have been issued to mostly poor, Black and Latino individuals, many of whom may not even be aware that they have become open warrants that could trigger an arrest for minor infractions dating back many years," Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. "Vacating these warrants enhances public safety and promotes fairness."
McMahon instead called the program "unfair" to people who show up in court for their summonses, and he did not want to take part in across-the-board dismissals.
"While I have supported holding our Fresh Start events on Staten Island where individuals can take personal responsibility and request that their summons warrant be dismissed, I believe that issuing blanket amnesty for these offenses is unfair to those citizens who responsibly appear in court and sends the wrong message about the importance of respecting our community and our laws," McMahon said in a statement.
The open warrants will only be dismissed for people who haven't been arrested since the penalty was issued. The summonses at issue are for offenses such as riding a bike on a sidewalk, drinking in public and disorderly conduct.
About 240,000 will be dismissed in Manhattan, 166,000 in The Bronx, 143,000 in Brooklyn and 100,00 in Queens, officials said.
They will be vacated in court proceedings in each borough next month.