New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently announced an aggressive public safety plan to combat gun violence and prosecute those in possession of a firearm.
His proposal came three days after the fatal shooting of NYPD officer Jason Rivera and weeks after four NYPD officers were injured in separate shootings.
Adams’ plan includes restoring a controversial plain-clothes special unit that was disbanded in 2020 to take guns off the streets, as well as calling on state prosecutors to be harsher with offenders.
“We will not surrender our city to the violent few,” Mr. Adams said in his speech. “I want to be clear: This is not just a plan for the future — it is a plan for right now. Gun violence is a public health crisis. There is no time to wait.”
Officials say that since the pandemic, gun violence in New York City has approached decade highs, with 500 murders in 2021.
Prior to his election, Adams promised voters that he would improve public safety. Now, he’s encouraged Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg to crack down on gun crimes. Bragg formerly would not prosecute individuals in possession of a gun if they were not involved in a violent crime.
“If you’re walking around Manhattan with a gun, you’re going to be prosecuted, and we’re going to hold you accountable in what I would say is the traditional sense,” Bragg said earlier in the day before Adams’ announcement.
Most controversial of Adams’ public safety plan is his restoration of an ant-crime unit that was disbanded following the 2020 social justice protests.
The special units, known as Neighborhood Safety Teams, will consist of handpicked officers to patrol 30 precincts in the city where police say 80% of the crime occurs.
The officers will not wear full police uniforms – just windbreakers with police insignia on it — and will drive in unmarked vehicles. The unit’s primary purpose is to find illegal weapons.
In contrast to the formerly disbanded unit, officers in the new unit will be wearing body cameras.
Despite criticism from left-leaning politicians and community activists about Adams’ plan to create a “police state” that will “alienate” communities of color, the mayor responded that officers in the unit would receive advanced training and be subject to additional oversight.
“We’re not looking to be heavy-handed, but we’re not looking to be dangerous to our city,” he told reporters. “And I’m going to find and strike that right balance.”
The mayor also called for stricter prosecution and harsher penalties of young people charged with gun possession, arguing that the “Raise the Age” law – which raised the age for criminal responsibility – was being used by gang members to recruit younger children to commit gun crimes.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who considers Adams a “public safety partner,” issued a tweet in agreement with Adams’ plan.
“We have a moral obligation to confront the gun violence epidemic, and that means working with leaders at all levels of government to keep New Yorkers safe,” Hochul’s tweet read.