New mayor unveils plan to stop gun violence

After witnessing a disturbing wave of violence during his first three weeks in office, Mayor Eric Adams announced that the city would intensify its efforts to seize illegal weapons and institute a multi-pronged plan to tackle crime.

Adams, a former New York police captain, laid out his plan Monday, days after one New York police officer was killed and another seriously injured in a shooting.

“Gun violence has caused a heartbreaking tragedy in our city. We must turn that pain into purpose. We are fighting gun violence and building communities where all residents feel safe.

“This is the plan to end armed violence,” the mayor wrote in a message on social networks.

“New Yorkers feel like a sea of ​​violence engulfs our city. But as your mayor, I promise you I will not let this happen. We will not hand our city over to a violent few,” Adams said Monday afternoon at City Hall. .

By most statistics, the city has been plagued in recent months by the same level of crime it experienced in the early 2000s under Michael Bloomberg, who often bragged then that Gotham had become the “safest big city in America”.

But while Adams said Monday that the city still deserved that label, “we’re not going to settle for the stats.”

A stunning series of citywide crimes early in the Adams administration could give him a mandate to beef up a police department that just 18 months ago was fighting calls to “defund the police.”

It could also embolden those who want to roll back criminal justice reforms that some law enforcement officials say are eroding hard-won declines in shootings and murders.

The two police officers were shot in the Harlem neighborhood on Friday night. Agent Jason Rivera died. Officer Wilbert Mora remains hospitalized and his survival is still uncertain.

In his speech on Monday, Adams outlined a mix of plans, some new, others representing a reinforcement of existing crime-fighting tools.

He announced that the police department would increase cooperation with state and federal law enforcement to stem the flow of illegal weapons into the city.

He said he wanted officers to carry out random gun checks at entry points into the city, such as bus and train stations, something that is already done sporadically on the subway.

The mayor also wants the police department to use technology to identify people carrying weapons, including facial recognition technology.

Adams’ plan also calls for expanded cash rewards for whistleblowers who share information on gun-related crimes and for the city to help businesses pay for surveillance cameras.

The mayor said he would launch or expand youth employment and mentoring programs and ask pastors and other religious leaders to deliver public safety messages to their congregations.

Adams is also seeking more resources for mental health care and said he will focus on appointing city judges who have a “demonstrated commitment” to keeping gun-using criminals off city streets.

“The sea of ​​violence comes from many rivers. We must put a dam on all the rivers that feed this major crisis,” Adams said.

In the three weeks since Adams was sworn in, five police officers have been shot, with Rivera, 22, the only fatality so far.

On January 9, a teenage cashier was killed during a night shift at a fast food restaurant in Manhattan. On January 15, a woman was pushed to death in front of a subway train. Last week, an 11-month-old boy was seriously injured after being hit by a stray bullet.

New York still experiences much less crime than it did in the early 1990s, when there were more than 2,000 murders a year. But after seeing homicides drop to 292 in 2017, the lowest level on record since the 1950s, there were 468 murders in 2020 and 488 last year.

That’s still lower than the average of more than 500 homicides a year during the Bloomberg administration. The surge, however, has led to renewed calls from city officials and union leaders for a review of bail reform measures that went into effect just months before the pandemic.

There’s little evidence that people getting out of jail are responsible for the majority of new crimes, but it’s one of the areas Adams wants to address. The mayor doesn’t want to scrap bail reforms entirely, but said he wants the law to be changed so that judges can take into account a defendant’s criminal history and potential dangerousness when setting bail. New York is the only state that doesn’t allow it, Adams said.

One of the most controversial parts of Adams’ plan is the revival of the police department’s crime-fighting unit, which was disbanded two years ago over concerns that it was responsible for a disproportionate number of police overuse complaints. force against agents.

Adams said that the reincarnation of the anti-crime units will be accompanied by listening visits in the neighborhoods and additional training, and that the agents will wear some clothing that identifies them as police, such as windbreakers.

Patrick Lynch, president of the city’s largest police union, the Police Benevolent Association, said the mayor “recognized the problem and outlined the beginnings of a plan.”

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