Amid an ongoing spike in gunplay, the NYPD will team cops with federal agents to enhance intelligence and weapons tracing as New York City enters the traditionally violent summer months, officials said Tuesday.
The initiative is an effort to beef up existing cooperation between the NYPD and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It also comes as the city has witnessed a 68% increase in shootings so far this year over 2020, which turned out to be one of the worst for gun violence since 2006.
"The New York City ATF gun intelligence center is a key new program for us," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller at a City Hall news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio. "It allows for a seamless flow of information we haven’t seen before. It allows us to get to the sources of those guns. Where are they coming from? What are the states?"
The center will help cops and federal officials identify the gun traffickers stoking the supply of illegal firearms entering the city and fueling the shootings, Miller said. The NYPD investigators will essentially be deputized as federal agents, officials said.
"It also helps us enhance the gun arrests we are making," said Miller, emphasizing that so far this year cops have made a record numbers of firearms arrests.
Richard Aborn, head of the Citizens Crime Commission, said he supports the effort as part of a broader strategy of going after those who sell illegal firearms.
"It is a good move to have the NYPD and ATF side-by-side sharing info," Aborn said.
He has proposed the formation of an interstate strike force targeting not only gun traffickers but also gun shops that sell illegal weapons. The shops could be prosecuted under so-called "impact jurisdiction" laws that allow New York prosecutors to go after out-of-state businesses whose activity causes harm in New York.
The State Legislature weighed in on the matter Tuesday night. Both the Senate and Assembly approved legislation that supporters say will be the first in the nation to allow firearms manufacturers and sellers to be sued for the use of their guns in crimes, ending their immunity from lawsuits under federal law in New York.
Law enforcement experts have noted that despite high numbers of gun arrests and seizures this year, shootings continue to rise. Among the most recent examples were a fatal shooting Saturday in Queens of 10-year-old Justin Wallace, and another Monday night in Brooklyn in which retired NYPD transit Officer Thomas Marrinan was shot dead while intervening in a dispute, officials said.
Tuesday night, the NYPD said Jovan Young, 29, of Queens, had been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the 10-year-old boy's death.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea hosted an awards ceremony at police headquarters for cops as well as department personnel and missed the news conference. The ceremony recognized efforts to enhance police and community relations.
Some 22 winners were announced in programs to be funded with $20,000 each in grants from the New York City Police Foundation, the nonprofit organization celebrating its 50th anniversary. The programs, ranging from a youth field day in the 102nd Precinct in Queens to honor Det. Brian Simonsen of Calverton, who was killed in 2019 during a friendly fire incident, to the use of therapy dogs to relieve stress, will ultimately involve 50 grants to precincts around the city.
Shea left the event without taking any questions from the news media about the recent shootings and other crime trends.
With Michael Gormley