After 30 years of law-and-order policies under the leadership of Richard Brown, Katz enters office with reform in mind.
Before taking office, she instituted reversals to the longstanding waiver policy, as well as the practice of refusing to plea bargain post-indictment. Queens will finally have a conviction integrity unit, an initiative that has made a difference in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.
These changes should be applauded and welcomed.
As for bail reform, critics have already blasted Katz for requesting cash bail in one of her first cases in the new year. Many, including those who supported Tiffany Caban in the Democratic primary, want to hold Katz accountable for her policies from day one.
It’s not only commendable for community activists and criminal justice reform advocates to demand accountability, it’s the right thing to do.
Elected officials for any public office, regardless of their history or affiliations of institutional support, should stick by campaign promises made when they were candidates.
But we should also give Katz time to fully implement these reforms. After three decades of policies under a more conservative prosecutor, the district attorney’s office deserves time to change.
“I’m only on day six,” Katz said at her inauguration ceremony at St. John’s University on Monday night.
While the residents of Queens should be optimistic that these reforms, including the end of cash bail, will take hold soon, they should watch closely and scrutinize whenever they see missteps.
Otherwise, Katz will have to answer to the voters when she’s up for re-election when her term is up.