To combat the problem, the New York Police Department (NYPD) will ramp up efforts to patrol neighborhoods and seize illegal guns, while improving partnerships with state and federal agencies like the FBI, according to the blueprint (pdf) from Adams, a Democrat who took office on Jan. 1.
Adams also wants to launch a summer youth employment program, which he says will help deter youth from turning to guns and violence; expand mental health care programs; and force all city agencies to name an “anti-gun violence liaison” to communicate with the mayoral administration, health care providers, and the NYPD.
Another prong is reducing the social distancing requirement in courtrooms from six feet to three feet so jury trials can begin hearing cases and try to clear the backlog of thousands of cases that have built up during the pandemic.
On the state level, Adams wants lawmakers to pass updated legislation that makes the bail process “fairer, smarter, and more targeted.” That should include letting judges detain accused criminals who pose a threat to the community, the mayor’s office says.
“This is a pivotal moment for our city and my team is focused on this issue, focused on the challenge that’s in front of us. With the right leadership this can be a safe city,” Adams, a former police officer, told a briefing at City Hall.
New York, like virtually every other major city in the country, has struggled with a spike in violence in the past two years. Shootings soared nearly 100 percent in 2020 versus the year before, and murders jumped 44 percent to 462.
That was much lower than the crime-ridden 1980s and early 1990s but shootings and murders rose again in 2021, along with other violent crimes like assault, with the number of killings coming in at the highest since 2011.
So far this year, five police officers have been shot—two on Jan. 21—and through Jan. 23, five murders had been recorded.
Adams won a contested Democratic primary and then the general election in part because he promised to crack down on crime, a contrast to some opponents who back efforts to cut police funding.
The mayor blamed the rise in crime on “a small population of individuals” and reiterated his call for President Joe Biden’s administration and Congress to help New York authorities deal with “the number one threat in our city,” which he described as a crisis of gun violence.
Until that happens, though, the blueprint will help drive crime rates down, Adams said.
The mayor said his message to police officers was “they’re going to get help from their mayor” and also said he’d work on making sure officers followed rules like wearing body cameras and keeping them on at all times.
“We want to rebuild trust in the police department and the civilians,” he said.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union, told The Epoch Times in an email that the union has been calling for years for solutions to the rise in crime.
“Mayor Adams has acknowledged the problem and outlined the beginnings of a plan. Now that police officers and crime victims have an advocate in City Hall, the real work begins,” Lynch said.
“In addition to the measures proposed today, we need an immediate rollback of the entire policy regime that penalizes police officers for proactively confronting lawbreakers. We need stiffer penalties, consistently imposed, for gun crimes. And we need more resources to relieve the overstretched cops on the front lines. Mayor Adams is absolutely right that the message on the streets is that there are no consequences for carrying and using illegal guns. We saw the tragic results of that message again on Friday night. It has to change immediately, because we’ve already lost more than we can bear,” he added.
Adams’ announcement came a day after New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced an interstate task force focused on illegal guns plans to meet on Wednesday.
The group includes officials from nine states, including Adams.
“We have a moral obligation to do everything we can to fight the scourge of illegal guns on our streets,” Hochul, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Too many lives have been lost because of illegal firearms that should never have been on our streets. By convening law enforcement officials from across the region, we can share intelligence and strategies that stem the flow of illegal guns and keep New Yorkers safe.”