This time, it was a cop falling victim to New York’s dangerously lax approach to crime. Happily, Officer Dennis Vargas, shot in the arm Tuesday, survived. But far too many New Yorkers aren’t as lucky.
Police say perp Rameek Smith, 25, fired at Vargas and his partner, who were pursuing him after they spotted him with a weapon. Yet, as NYPD boss Keechant Sewell fumed, Smith was “a dangerous criminal who should not have been on the streets” in the first place.
Police had nabbed him for gun possession in a 2020 fare-evasion stop, but the judge let him roam free, even after he pleaded guilty in December. And never mind his nine priors, including a 2016 conviction for robbery that brought him probation.
Yes, Smith had been diagnosed with psychological issues and was diverted to a mental-health program as part of his plea deal. Yet the reluctance of New York district attorneys, judges and lawmakers to force such people to take their meds or confine them to hospitals when necessary drives far too many cases like this.
Shooters “are back on the streets” in no time, “just like this person,” seethed Mayor Eric Adams. “The same criminals are continuing to come out in our streets committing violence over and over again.”
The bleeding hearts did Smith no favors by setting him free: The cops chasing him returned fire, striking him in the head; he died Wednesday. Had he been locked up, he might still be alive.
Indeed. Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature made token tweaks to the laws this year, but to suck up to pro-criminal progressives, they refuse to take truly meaningful steps to end the mayhem. No wonder major crimes through May 8 are up 41% this year.
Alas, until Hochul, lawmakers and the DAs and judges that are supposed to enforce the law get serious, New Yorkers must keep fearing for their safety — cops included.