New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced a multi-point plan Friday to quell a recent explosion of gun violence, including shifting officers to shooting hot spots, moving more detectives to investigations and organizing additional gun buyback programs.
In a joint news conference, the city officials also revealed they are reorganizing the police community affairs bureau to deploy officers to areas with increased violence in an effort to work with the communities at the grassroots level.
“The increase in shootings and violence tears at the fabric of life in our city,” Shea said. “These new efforts are critical to stopping the violence but we need everyone in the public to step forward to help.”
De Blasio and Shea announced their plan as officers braced for another weekend, the time when city has seen violent periods and shootings recently. Last Sunday, the city was shocked when one year-old toddler, Davell Gardner, was struck and killed by a bullet to his abdomen as he sat in a stroller at a barbecue in Brooklyn.
The appearance of de Blasio and Shea together was the first time they had done so in well over a week. They didn’t give specifics on how many NYPD officers would be put into the shooting hot spots or how many detectives would be part of the focus.
The initiative to curb violence comes as the number of victims to gunfire is on a pace, by the end of next week, to surpass the entire toll of 922 victims reached at the end of 2019, according to police statistics.
The number of shootings has steadily increased during the pandemic and reached a large number over the July Fourth weekend. Shea again stressed his view that the logjam in the court system — where the impact of the coronavirus has essentially stopped grand jury proceedings — is playing a big factor in the system’s current inability to deal with violent gun defendants.
“The court system is not functioning,” de Blasio snapped in response to a reporter’s question.
Shea said those who have been charged with gun crimes should be prosecuted.
“We need the court system to open to get them off the street as quickly as possible,” Shea said. “Just in the last year and a half we have about 2,000 gun cases, half of them are indicted … We need the price of carrying an illegal firearm in New York City to be felt."
The officials also gave updates in a couple of high profile cases recently. Investigators reportedly were talking to a person of interest in Davell's fatal shooting. Police also announced Thursday the arrest of three men in the Bronx for the shooting of Anthony Robinson, 29, on July 5.
The clearance rate for solving shootings has been under 30% but Shea noted that since Monday, officers have made 13 arrests for shootings and homicides in recent days.