Liz Crotty is cementing a position as the most traditional, law-and-order candidate for Manhattan district attorney in a group of more progressive contenders, with former New York City Police Department commissioner Raymond Kelly endorsing her campaign Monday.
Mr. Kelly’s endorsement added to a growing support for Ms. Crotty from current and former police officers, including four unions representing the New York Police Department sergeants, lieutenants, captains and detectives. Mr. Kelly’s backing came two days after a 4-year-old girl in a stroller and two women were shot in Times Square, adding to concern about gun violence and crime in the city.
“Liz Crotty is the whole package, someone who knows the courtroom from both sides as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, and knows that police officers are an irreplaceable partner in keeping the city safe,” said Mr. Kelly, who worked as commissioner under two mayors, David Dinkins, a Democrat, and Michael Bloomberg, who ran as both a Republican and independent.
Ms. Crotty is among eight candidates running in the June 22 Democratic primary to replace Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. , a three-term Democrat who announced this year he wouldn’t seek re-election. The winner is likely to be the next district attorney in a borough where Democrats widely outnumber Republicans.
Ms. Crotty is a former Manhattan prosecutor who has worked as a criminal- defense attorney for more than a decade. She presents herself as a centrist, “safety first” candidate in contrast with her opponents who have campaigned on plans to jail fewer people and end racial disparities in the justice system. Ms. Crotty said she was the only candidate who hadn’t released a list of crimes she won’t prosecute and was more concerned with being a fair prosecutor than a progressive one.
Her chances will depend on whether a traditional law-and-order vision resonates with everyday Manhattan residents during a citywide surge in shootings and violent crime.
“The job of district attorney is about public safety,” she said. “We’re missing the boat in the sense that crime is real.”
Since Ms. Crotty announced her candidacy in August, she has campaigned on positions that favor traditional policing methods.
She called for hundreds of additional officers to be deployed to patrol the city’s transit system. She has also advocated for the reinstatement of the NYPD’s anticrime unit, the plainclothes team that targeted violent crime. The unit was disbanded in June. That month, the city logged 205 shootings, the highest for the month since 1996.
“What separates me from the other candidates in this race is my refusal to knuckle under to antipolice sentiment when communities beset by rising crime know we need to all work together to restore public safety,” Ms. Crotty said.
Ms. Crotty has run to the right of opponents like Tali Farhadian Weinstein, Lucy Lang and Alvin Bragg. All also are former prosecutors and have said that they would make combating violent crime a priority.
Ms. Crotty has drawn a contrast with her opponents on how to handle gun crime. Ms. Farhadian Weinstein, Ms. Lang and Mr. Bragg have said they wouldn’t automatically seek jail for people convicted in cases of simple gun possession, where a firearm isn’t used or discharged, saying incarceration doesn’t always make the public safer.
Ms. Crotty said that she will look at each case individually, but the presumption should be: “If you’re carrying a gun in New York, you’re going to jail.”
Candidates like Tahanie Aboushi disagree with Ms. Crotty’s approach and criticize her willingness to accept support from the policing community.
“It’s far past time we end NYPD’s unchecked abuse of power and harm in Manhattan,” she said. “But that change isn’t going to come from a district attorney who’s received endorsements from four of NYPD’s biggest unions,” she said.
Ms. Crotty is the daughter of a Manhattan federal judge and grew up in Stuyvesant Town on the East Side. She first worked at the Manhattan district attorney’s office as a highschooler. After attending Fordham Law School, she spent six years working under Robert Morgenthau at the office, prosecuting a range of street crime and financial fraud and investigating an international kickback scheme in the United Nations’ oil-for-food program. In her 13 years as a defense attorney, Ms. Crotty said she learned that there is “a difference between bad decisions, bad days and bad people.”
“You have to give latitude and leeway to people who make a bad decision or have a bad day,” she said, but “if you don’t hold people accountable, they will not change.”
Ms. Crotty still supports non-jail alternatives, where appropriate, particularly for people under 25 years old. But she said as district attorney she would need to think about what drives public safety in each and every case.
“Public safety is a partnership, and the officers of the NYPD are the cornerstone of that partnership,” she said.