The New York Post reports a sharp rise in violence across New York City after the NYPD disbanded an anti-crime unit featuring plain-clothes police officers. Following the unit's closure on June 15, the city saw three times as many shootings during the last two weeks of the month as it did during the same time period last year.
While 38 gunfire incidents were recorded between June 15 and July 2 of last year, that number climbed to 116 during the same time period this year in a 205 percent increase. Meanwhile, gunshot injuries climbed from 47 to 157 in a 238 percent increase.
It ended up being New York City's bloodiest June in 24 years with 205 shootings during the month; in 1996, 236 such incidents were logged.
One of the victims of the recent violence was Jomo Glasgow, a 35-year-old DJ who was shot outside of a house party in Brooklyn on June 17, two days after New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced he'd be closing the unit of police officers in charge of preventing violent street crime.
The victim’s mother, Hazel Thomas, told the New York Post: "I feel like we are giving the streets back to the criminals. They shouldn't have disbanded it. Whatever the problem they have, address it. But don’t disband the unit. Many lives would have been saved. Not just my son.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio has described the unit as being elite, but its successes have also been marred by controversy, including several police shootings and the chokehold that killed Eric Garner.
Some people saw Shea’s decision as being politically motivated; it came at the height of the protests throughout the nation against police brutality. Although he praised the job that the unit had done, he said when he announced its disbanding that he felt “it’s time to move forward and change how we police in the city.”
A former anti-crime unit supervisor, NYPD Sergeant Joseph Imperatrice, said that it would be a lot harder for police to tackle growing felony crimes, the rising number of illegal guns making their way into neighborhoods, and "shots fired" jobs without the unit. He also criticized the NYPD for trying to blame the recent shooting spike on factors other than the disbanding of the unit, such as COVID and bail reform.
According to the Post, officers who were in the disbanded unit will be reassigned. All told, the group encompassed around 600 police officers who were spread out in patrols of public housing and precincts throughout the city. They will now be assigned to posts such as neighborhood policing efforts and the detectives bureau.
On Sunday, President Trump called out New York City and Chicago for the high numbers of shootings registered there and said the federal government would be ready to assist them should leaders request their help.
Unfortunately, crime is on the rise in many places, with Chicago also recently experiencing its most violent day in 60 years over Memorial Day weekend with 18 killed and 45 shot in just 24 hours. Independence Day weekend saw at least 67 people shot there, 18 of them fatally, in a number that also included four children. Chicago Police Department statistics show that shootings and murders climbed by 75 percent in June 2020 compared to June 2019.
It makes absolutely no sense to call for reduced police protection while more people are being hurt and killed than ever. And what is happening in New York in the wake of the disbanding of just one unit should serve as a warning to other departments considering similar moves.
Sources for this article include: