Being brave means setting a bold course, not being afraid to take action, and to make positive changes. Being brave is not always easy; bravery is showing up, step by step, thoughtfully moving toward fairness, equity, and safety.
Combatting Gang Activity, Gun Violence and Drug Trafficking
The District Attorney is committed to ridding our neighborhoods of violent gangs, gun runners and drug traffickers. The newly created Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau merges the Office’s former Narcotics Investigations and Gang Violence Bureaus and works diligently to dismantle criminal organizations operating in Queens County. They identify and prosecute drivers of violence engaged in organized criminal behavior, including members of violent street gangs, narcotics distribution operations and firearms dealers.
This reconfigured bureau uses every resource available to ensure criminal networks, gang activity and other organized operations run by drivers of crime are dismantled and that the drugs and weapons they peddle are taken off our streets. A number of significant cases have already been developed.
At the same time, the Office works with members of the community to try to make Queens a safer place, and to focus resources on helping our youth find meaningful outlets for their energy and hopeful opportunities for their futures. Our Community Partnership Division works closely with Queens’ communities to focus on identifying and addressing community crime concerns. The division’s staff provides comprehensive, targeted community outreach as well as coordination and implementation of a variety of programs including gun buy-backs initiatives, with the goal of addressing the pervasive problem of gun violence in Queens’ communities. The Community Partnerships Division helps bridge the gap between prosecution of crime and community-based intervention in order to ensure the safety of all Queens residents. While we focus on the drivers of violence, at the same time, we actively work with community leaders, faith-based leaders, cure violence groups, and youth programs to prioritize mentorship, education and work-based opportunities for our county's young people.
For more information, visit the Community Partnership Division Page.
Addressing Financial Crimes
The District Attorney maintains a strong policy of aggressively prosecuting white-collar crime. Theft is theft, whether the thief wears a mask or a three-piece suit. Whether it is stealing a car or a family’s financial security through fraud, the perpetrators will be prosecuted. As part of her vision for the office, DA Katz has implemented a comprehensive approach to crime fighting with the knowledge that economic crimes frequently have ties to criminal organizations that pose a threat to the community.
The Major Economic Crimes Bureau (MECB) combines the former Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau with components of the former Economic Crimes Bureau and investigates and prosecutes a broad array of large-scale financial crimes that often fuel dangerous criminal enterprises in our communities.
The Frauds Bureau’s goal is to focus on catching criminals who prey on the vulnerable, line their pockets with tax revenue collected on behalf of the City and State and anyone else who uses financial schemes to victimize the innocent.
The Housing and Worker Protection Bureau focuses on investigating and prosecuting crimes related to homeownership, predatory lending, wage theft and workplace safety.
The District Attorney has made it clear that hate crimes will not be tolerated in Queens County and has created a specialized bureau to aggressively tackle these heinous crimes.
Queens County is known as the ‘World’s Borough’ because it is home to the most diverse population of any county in the nation. Our Office’s dedicated Hate Crimes Bureau, in the newly reorganized Supreme Court Trial Division, is one of the first in the nation committed exclusively to preventing, investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.
People from all over the world come to this borough to work, live, and make a new life for themselves and their families. It is this amazing diversity that is our strength and makes our borough so vibrant. But, because of this diversity, some who have hate in their heart will seek to wreak havoc and attempt to weaken and divide us through disgusting and cowardly bias crimes. The individual hate crime victim often suffers significant psychological harm on top of the economic or physical injury caused by the underlying criminal act. Also, members of the victims’ group, and other minority groups, can suffer secondary injury by becoming fearful and isolating from others.
Empowering Victims of Human Trafficking
Queens is a prime geographic location for traffickers to target and exploit those most at risk. The newly formed Human Trafficking Bureau, the first at any prosecutors’ office in the City, combats sex and labor trafficking. The bureau works to aggressively prosecute traffickers and buyers of sex and also connects survivors of trafficking with meaningful services to empower them to escape their traffickers. This bureau also provides community outreach, education and information aimed toward preventing and identifying trafficking in our communities.
The sex trafficking industry is a brutal, degrading, and illegal enterprise that far too often profits by forcing women, children, and members of our transgender community into prostitution. But there are other forms of trafficking, such as forcing individuals to work with little or no pay. This new and dedicated bureau combats those who would victimize others with aggressive investigations to end this industry.
Public Corruption and Accountability
As DA Katz has often stated, public safety and police accountability are not contradictory. In fact, they are complementary approaches to criminal justice. If the community feels that when there is police misconduct there is police accountability, the community will feel better protected and will be more willing to work alongside the police to combat criminal activity in their communities.
DA Katz’s Public Corruption Bureau holds all public servants and licensed attorneys accountable for violations of public trust and fiduciary duty. It investigates the use of excessive force by police, allegations of wrongdoing by licensed attorneys and public officials, the unauthorized practice of law, criminal impersonation of public officers, election fraud, larceny, and perjury. It also investigates allegations against civilians who attempt to subvert the integrity of public servants by offering bribes.
Efforts to End Domestic Violence
District Attorney Katz is dedicated to expanding efforts to end domestic violence and to eliminate the stigma attached to being a domestic violence survivor. To achieve these goals, the Office works toward strengthening partnerships, increasing community outreach, and changing abusive behavior through diversionary programs, education, and providing support for both victims and defendants.
The Domestic Violence Bureau’s Violence Strategic Threat Alert Team (DVSTAT) seeks to identify and enhance the prosecution of high-risk domestic violence cases after a crime has occurred, but before the offender is apprehended. Nearly half of domestic abusers flee the scenes of their crimes before the police arrive. To help keep these victims safe, we employ a computer program that receives from the NYPD all open domestic violence complaint reports where defendants have not yet been arrested.
The program searches those complaints for risk factors - including whether there has been an escalation of violence, a violation of an order of protection, or threats made. The Assistant District Attorney assigned can begin immediate outreach on the cases identified as the highest risk. By proactively inviting these victims to the Queens Family Justice Center (QFJC), our Office ensures that victims are aware of the safety planning and counseling services that are available to them- even before an arrest is made. At the QFJC, victims are assigned case managers from Safe Horizon so that, among other things, they can apply for family court orders of protection and seek shelter placement.
The stress of the pandemic was particularly difficult for some members of our community. According to data collected by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, calls regarding domestic violence increased by 33% across the state. Recognizing no one should feel unsafe in their own home during the pandemic, DA Katz created a 24/7 Domestic Violence Helpline to assist those in need to connect with safety planning measures and other resources.
Throughout the pandemic, the Office staff worked closely with the Family Justice Center to assist survivors with safety planning and emergency shelter, and these resources are now also available virtually.
Putting the Brakes on Vehicular Crimes
Dangerous driving takes loved ones from us and leaves others behind to find a way to heal, knowing that the preventable tragedy could have been avoided but can never be undone. Just like other forms of violence on our streets, vehicular violence can have lethal and devastating consequences and is on the rise.
It is the duty of the District Attorney to help prevent these avoidable tragedies. The message is clear: vehicular violence is a threat to public safety and will not be tolerated. We will hold dangerous, criminal drivers accountable. A vehicular crime can happen in a moment-it can never be undone, but it can be prevented.
Addressing vehicular violence is a priority for DA Katz and she has redefined and tightened Office plea guidelines on all vehicular crimes, working within the framework of the laws available. Dispositions on DWI cases are now more closely aligned with statutory guidelines. While each case is examined on its own merits, many DWI cases are no longer eligible for reduced pleas as they had been in the past. New policies strengthen the ability to keep these drivers off the road and prevent further harm.
The Office also works to identify cases where meaningful treatment programs can improve driving behavior and prevent recidivism. To help reduce the number of alcohol-related injuries and deaths, technology is employed to monitor alcohol use and help ensure that a driver who is intoxicated stays off our streets.
In addition to DWI cases, there is focus on offenders whose licenses have been suspended or revoked due to their dangerous driving records. Drivers who have had their privileges taken away because they repeatedly break traffic safety rules should not be on our roads.
In vehicular incidents involving death or serious physical injury to pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, the Office works closely with NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad. If there is criminal liability, the Office will request penalties that are commensurate with the harm caused and that help bring some sense of justice to those left behind.