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De Blasio says crime spikes will be reversed

Mayor Bill de Blasio, seen in Queens on

Mayor Bill de Blasio, seen in Queens on Monday, May 11, 2015. Credit: Uli Seit

Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday blamed warring gangs for the city's recent increase in shootings and murders but pointed to overall crime rates that remain at historic lows.

With murders citywide up 12.7 percent year-to-date over the same period last year and shooting incidents up 7.1 percent, de Blasio said the NYPD was working to contain the rise in violence, which is concentrated in a few trouble spots.

"There's no two ways about it: There are certain precincts we have to do more in, and there's certain gang issues we have to address," de Blasio said at an unrelated event. "We obviously are going to work very, very intensely to cut off this phenomenon at the knees here in New York City."

The NYPD says those precincts are in parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx. For example, within the 75th Precinct, which covers East New York, Brooklyn, shooting incidents jumped to 26 from 17, an increase of 52.9 percent. Murders went up 125 percent, to nine from four. But citywide, overall major crime is down 6.86 percent.

De Blasio critics have warned since he ran for office that his policies, including new limits on stop-and-frisk tactics, would unleash a surge in crime. In 2014, de Blasio's first year as mayor, major crime went down about 4.14 percent, according to NYPD statistics.

"In the bad old days, when we had 2,000 murders or more a year, a lot of everyday citizens were getting caught in those [gang] cross fires," he said. "This is equally troubling when, you know, individual gang members shoot other gang members, but it's a different reality than what we used to face," the mayor said.

De Blasio voiced confidence that recent spikes of violence will be reversed. The strategies include so-called takedowns of gangs and interventions to curb recruitment, help members get out, and head off retaliatory shootings. De Blasio also touted sonic gunshot detection systems and handheld technology coming online to "speed up the ability of our officers to catch the bad guys."

De Blasio has so far resisted calls by the City Council and his police commissioner, William Bratton, to boost the NYPD's 35,000 head count. The council wants 1,000 more police officers.

"I know the NYPD knows how to get at this problem," de Blasio said. "It's going to take a lot of intensive police work, but they will prevail."

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