Rep. Claudia Tenney Wednesday blamed Democrat politicians’ “nonsense” policies for rampant violence in New York City, as fallout continues from the brutal mass shooting in a Brooklyn subway Tuesday.
Tenney, R-N.Y., also said it’s a “relief” that the New York Police Department (NYPD) caught the suspected shooter and said, “congratulations to the police department for getting this done.”
But, she added, “if they hadn’t been defunded, and they had more support and the tools they need to really fight crime, they probably could have gotten this guy quicker. But at least they got him and no one else that we know of has been harmed.”
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Tenney’s comments come as public safety in the Big Apple is under a microscope in the wake of the devastating shooting Tuesday. Police suspect 62-year-old Frank James is the man who donned a gas mask, set off a smoke cannister and opened fire inside the 36th Street subway station Tuesday.
Ten people were shot in the attack and at least 16 people were injured.
But that individual attack accounted for less than half of the gun violence victims in New York City Tuesday. According to the NYPD’s preliminary numbers, 25 total people were shot in nine total incidents across the city, including the one at the Brooklyn subway station.
“It’s absurd,” Tenney, who represents an upstate district, said of growing crime in New York City. “You’ve got to focus on the cause of the problem. You have people with severe mental illness. You have people who are unemployed. You have a police department that doesn’t have the ability to properly track and arrest people and have consequences to people who commit crimes.”
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“I can’t emphasize enough, this is happening in upstate New York,” as well, Tenney said.
Tenney said she’d spoken Wednesday with an owner of a car dealership who said there was rampant crime in places like Utica and Clinton that police are struggling to stop. A separate police officer, Tenney said, recently told her on a ride-along that officers keep arresting the same people for committing the same crimes over and over.
“It’s our politicians in Albany and our politicians in New York City who do not understand that you have to have consequences for committing crimes,” she said. “These soft-on-crime type people that are prioritizing the criminals over the victims, it does exactly what you expect it to do. More crime and less ability of the police to handle these people.”
“There’s nothing the police can do,” she continued. “They say,’ well, show up at your appearance,’ you know, and they don’t show up or the judge gives them a delay. And by that time, they’ve amassed 13 or 14 crimes… This is the kind of nonsense that the Democrats keep promoting.”
As far as solutions, Tenney said, policymakers in New York should protect police funding and policies like qualified immunity, which prevents officers from being sued personally in many cases for violating peoples’ rights.
“That gives the police officer the opportunity to not feel so risk-averse that they can’t go out and keep people safe,” Tenney said of qualified immunity.
“Would you say to the Marines going to Afghanistan, ‘We want you to go there, but we’re going to defund… we’re going to give you half the supplies you need to keep yourself safe?'” Tenney said, making a comparison to police defunding efforts. “Would you want to do that job?”
Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.