New Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg admitted Sunday that his first two weeks in office have been “challenging” — amid backlash over his progressive prosecutorial policies.
“It has been a challenging two weeks, church family. Challenging,” he told congregants during morning service at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.
But still, Bragg, a former federal prosecutor, insisted he was the right man for the job.
“Part of the discussion that’s been so frustrating the last couple weeks is the suggestion that … I don’t know public safety,” he told the crowd. “The reality is … before I turned 21, I had a semi-automatic weapon pointed at my head, I had a knife to my throat, a homicide victim at my doorstep, and was shot at. I know public safety.”
“I want to be clear and unequivocal that public safety is paramount,” he added.
Bragg also acknowledged missteps in his “Day One” memo to staff detailing his objectives.
“You know what happens when you provide housing and employment to those returning from incarceration? Recidivism goes down. So, we started the conversation,” he said. “Maybe I had a comma out of place, maybe I didn’t use the exact right words, but the urgency of now didn’t start the conversation, so we started it.
“And it may be a long conversation. [I’m] harboring no illusions that the storm will end soon.”
Bragg’s crime-fighting tactics — which include downgrading certain felonies like armed robberies of commercial businesses and no longer seeking prison sentences in some cases — have been panned by critics as too lax in a time when the city is seeing an uptick in nearly every category of major crime.
New NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell has said she fears Bragg’s policies put cops and the public at risk, while local Republicans have backed an online campaign to oust the top prosecutor from office.
On Sunday, Bragg, Manhattan’s first black DA, said his strategy of restorative justice and diversion programs would help “make us safer.”
“We make these investments, we will reap the fruits of safety,” he said.
Bragg also briefly mentioned the fatal Saturday morning subway shove in Times Square.
“We have safety on the trains we need to secure,” he said.
Bragg’s comments to the pulpit come a day after The Post reported that at least nine prosecutors have quit his office amid a “radical shift in policy.”
News of the departures came after The Post reported last week that William Rolon, an ex-con accused of threatening a drug store worker with a knife, was told by Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Jay Weiner that he should “feel lucky” he got nabbed after the new, lefty DA took charge.
Rolon’s armed robbery charges were downgraded to misdemeanors in line with Bragg’s criminal justice reforms.