I write this message at a time when, as a city and as a nation, we face unprecedented challenges. The importance of how we respond at this critical moment cannot be overstated.
A year ago, we viewed the point we have reached as our goal - we can easily obtain effective vaccinations that enable us to reopen our city and our nation. However, we now realize that the most difficult part of the journey is ahead.
Our response to what we have lost and what we have learned since March of 2020 will shape our future for decades to come. More than 33,000 people died from COVID-19 in New York City alone as of June 2021. We mourn for them and for their families and are deeply concerned for all those who continue to endure hardship as a result of COVID-19. While the reopening is exhilarating to some who have felt isolated, the city faces logistical challenges and must adhere to sometimes conflicting guidance from public health officials.
Against the backdrop of the reopening of our courts and the surge in crime in the city and nation, we continue to process what we learned from summer’s mass demonstrations against inequities in the criminal justice system and widespread anger over the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. We have implemented many changes directed at doing our part to address systemic racism and are continuing to examine how we can improve our practices.
We are resolute in our commitment to ensure that defendants and victims will be justly and fairly treated, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or nation of origin.
As the pandemic raged, drug overdoses in our city escalated. Our Office’s strategy is to focus on high-level narcotics traffickers who use New York City as a regional hub of drug distribution, seizing hundreds of pounds of deadly fentanyl, heroin and cocaine before it ever reaches the streets. With greater frequency, we see narcotics organizations armed with high-powered weapons and handguns. These are a priority for prosecution. We also respond to calls for assistance from communities beset by street-level drug networks, and organizations linked to overdose deaths and violence. Our expertise in prosecuting corrupt doctors and other medical practitioners involved in the illicit distribution of prescription drugs assures that those patients will receive competent treatment and the black market will not be flooded with dangerous addictive medications.
Our strategic approach promotes community safety and saves lives, while supporting alternatives to incarceration and lowering arrests.