The NYPD expects to marshal a force of up to 5,000 officers later this month to handle the unprecedented security demands brought on by three national security events: the meeting of the UN General Assembly, the presence of President Barack Obama and the visit by Pope Francis, officials said Wednesday.
"Depending on how you parse the numbers, you will be dealing with between 3,000 to 5,000 police officers, handling the General Assembly, the president of the United States and handling the pope and those who are coming to see him," NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said at the department's monthly crime briefing.
While the General Assembly and presidential visits are events the department has handled many times, the unique demands made by the pope present security challenges, Miller said. "It is complicated," Miller said. "With all of the security, we still have to address the main purpose of this, which is his holiness would like to make contact, be seen, enjoy the presence of as many people as possible. We have to secure the visit, but we have to keep it as open and viable to allow the real purpose of this trip to flourish in him."
Earlier at Wednesday's briefing, Police Commissioner William Bratton and his top aides said this summer was the safest in more than 20 years. While admitting that murders and certain other serious crimes like rape and robbery have gone up, Bratton said that overall major crimes are down about 4 percent from 2014 during the period June 1 through Aug. 31.
"We continue to see our targeted enforcement working," Bratton said in a statement issued later in the day. "The department is more precise than ever -- with significantly lower crime totals."
Overall, homicides so far this year are up 6 percent and rapes are up 5.3 percent, while shootings, which had gone up earlier this year, were down 1.4 percent, said Deputy Commissioner Dermott Shea. All other major crime categories were down, Shea noted.
Officials also said cops made 908 gun seizures this summer during arrests and searches, an increase of 74 from the same period last year. But with stop-and-frisk activity way down, department records also showed the number of guns seized as a result of such encounters down by nearly 50 percent.