Statement by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., on July Shootings

July 8, 2016

“Since July 4th, each day has brought news of a fresh horror involving firearms and law enforcement. I want to express my condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives this week – from the two civilians killed in Louisiana and Minnesota to the five Dallas police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. 

“At a time when race and the criminal justice system are at the forefront of the national consciousness, all of us in law enforcement have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to act. We need to confront biases head-on, making sure they have no place in our decision-making. We need to take bipartisan action to address the nation’s gun crisis. We need to reduce the number of people – particularly, young people of color – who step foot in our courthouses. And we need to implement smart, proactive crime-fighting strategies in our communities.

“There is a feeling among many Americans that the criminal justice system is broken. People of all races and political affiliations are losing trust and confidence. We need to take a cold, hard look at ourselves and the very institutions charged with keeping Americans safe, and we must not be defensive about it. We cannot pretend that we live in a post-racial society. But there is reason to be hopeful.

“Today we have a President, an Attorney General, and in New York City, a Mayor, Police Commissioner, and prosecutors who have made fairness in criminal justice a top priority. We are fortunate to live in an era when crime is low and the potential for Big Data to transform our public institutions is high. To my mind, that means now is the time for rigorous self-examination by all actors in the American criminal justice system.”