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NYC mayor unveils plan to stem gun violence

About 400 cops are expected to join reinstated plainclothes units focused on the city’s 30 worst precincts

Eric Adams

“This blueprint to end gun violence will not end this crisis overnight, but it will represent the biggest action in years to protect New York City,” Mayor Adams said on Monday.

AP Photo/John Minchillo

By Paul Liotta
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The start of Mayor Eric Adams’ administration has seen a series of high-profile shootings across the five boroughs, and on Monday he announced his plan to address it.

His “Blueprint to End Gun Violence” lays out several immediate and long-term policies aimed at addressing the scourge of guns on the city’s streets.

“These actions are only a start, but they will create critical momentum that will help New York City and all cities,” Adams said. “This blueprint to end gun violence will not end this crisis overnight, but it will represent the biggest action in years to protect New York City.”

Adams, who served as a transit officer during some of the years that saw the city’s highest rates of crime, said that, statistically, New York City remains the nation’s safest large city.

However, he pointed to a series of events, including an 11-month-old girl shot in the face in the Bronx while sitting in the car with her mother, and the killing of Police Officer Jason Rivera.

Suspect LaShawn McNeil allegedly shot and killed Rivera when he was responding to a domestic dispute in Harlem. Rivera’s partner Officer Wilbert Mora remains hospitalized.

Over the next three weeks, Adams said the city will launch Neighborhood Safety Teams focused on gun violence in the city’s 30 worst precincts responsible for 80% of the city’s violence.

The blueprint drew a connection between the new teams and the city’s old anti-crime units that former Mayor Bill de Blasio disbanded last year after decades of complaints.

The city will hold a series of listening sessions in key neighborhoods around the city about how to prevent abuses of the past units, while providing additional training, supervision, analytics and risk monitoring, according to the blueprint.

Adams said the use of video technology, particularly officers’ body-worn cameras, alterations to the “plain clothes” dress code with the use of clear NYPD markings to better identify officers, and the recruitment of different officers than in the past to man these units.

“You must have the right training, the right mindset, the right disposition, and be, as I say all the time, emotionally intelligent enough,” he said of the new units’ officers. “We’re going to make sure that they’re the best fit for the unit.”

Addressing the apparent contradiction in a plainclothes unit wearing identifiable markings, Adams said the unit’s unmarked cars provide those units’ real strength.

Adams said more than 400 officers would be assigned to the new units, along with a number of additional steps he intends to implement at the local level.

[RELATED: Portland PD’s new Focused Intervention Team hits streets to thwart gun violence]

On law enforcement, the city will work to identify inefficiencies in the department that allow the transfer of officers from desk and event duties to patrol. Adams said they’d also work to increase NYPD and state police presence around interstate transit hubs like Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal where many of the city’s guns come in.

Adams said he’d also work to appoint city judges committed to keeping gun-using criminals off city streets.

The blueprint promises to “empower” the city’s Crisis Management System and its network of violence interrupters by reducing government bureaucracy.

A partnership with large businesses and corporations will help expand the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program, and the city will expand the Fair Futures initiative that’s focused on young people in the foster care system.

In addition to the local efforts, Adams called on the state and federal levels of government for assistance.

He asked state legislators to change the bail law to allow for more judicial discretion when it comes to offenders who pose a continued danger to the community, and for changes to “Raise the Age” efforts that would allow for kids ages 16 and 17 to remain in the criminal court system if they possess a loaded firearm.

At the federal level, Adams called for legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales, and increase penalties for gun traffickers and those engaging in straw purchases.

“City government alone cannot solve a crisis that has reached across our nation,” Adams said. “We will need support from New York state, federal partners, district attorneys, the U.S. Southern & Eastern District Courts, as well as all New Yorkers.”

(c)2022 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.