Both those men worked as defense lawyers before taking office. Mr. Bragg, by contrast, is a former federal prosecutor, and he has consistently emphasized the need for public safety. During an appearance with the Citizens Crime Commission on Monday, he amended his usual mantra of “safety and fairness.”
“I’ve almost been thinking about saying, rather than ‘safety and fairness,’ it’s like ‘safety and safety,'” he said, explaining that even the most lenient or reformist of his policies – the “fairness” part of his platform – was geared toward protecting the public.
Remarking on that appearance, James McGuire, a former prosecutor in Manhattan who was chief counsel to Gov. George E. Pataki, a three-term Republican, said, “The district attorney did the backstroke from his first-day memo furiously and effectively.”
And Christina Greer, a professor of political science at Fordham University, said that while Mr. Bragg had not necessarily reversed himself, he had clearly shifted his priorities.
“He’s not a politician, but I think he’s quickly realized that this is a political job,” she said. “And when the primary conversation in New York is about safety and gun violence, it might appear a bit tone deaf if he’s talking about something else.”
Ms. Greer said that there was a racial component to the way Mr. Bragg, the first Black person to hold the office, had been received.
“Alvin is serving as the proxy for white fears of a city run amok,” she said.
Much of Mr. Bragg’s campaign platform was shaped by his personal experiences and those of his family members. He often spoke about his father, who owned an illegal gun and turned it in at a buyback event, and his brother-in-law, who was charged with gun possession after being arrested with one of his friends who had been holding a gun. Their cases, Mr. Bragg said, demonstrated the point that not all people who held guns were likely to commit violent acts. (This week, Mr. Bragg called their experiences “atypical.”)