Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday once again decried Gotham’s gun violence epidemic without offering any concrete solutions — while doubling down on the department’s decision to disband its gun-hunting anti-crime unit — during another press conference attended by no members of NYPD brass.
The mayor kicked off his daily press briefing by addressing the spate of shootings, including one in Brooklyn Sunday night that claimed the life of a 1-year-old boy.
Later, de Blasio talked about the “horrible spate of shootings” in NYCHA public housing that he dealt with at the beginning of his tenure.
“We threw everything we had at it. We have to do it again,” he said.
He shot down questions about firing Police Commissioner Dermot Shea — who disbanded the anti-crime unit last month — and lauded him as “one of the people who made this the safest big city in America.”
“He felt — and I agreed with him — that it was important to make a change in our strategy, to use the talents of our officers in new and better ways,” de Blasio said. “I don’t know anyone who knows more about how to do that than Dermot Shea.”
The city’s top cop and other brass, however, have been markedly absent from de Blasio’s daily press briefings — even as shootings continue to surge this summer. On Monday alone, 17 people were shot in the city, while last month was the most violent June the Big Apple has seen since 1996.
But de Blasio blamed the spike in crime in part on the coronavirus pandemic.
“Every aspect of life has been dislocated,” he said. “C’mon, we’re not dealing with business as usual here.”
The mayor’s comments on the crime spree counter those from the NYPD’s Chief of Department Terence Monahan, who on Tuesday blamed it on nixing the anti-crime unit and the rise of the Defund the Police movement.
“The disbanding of anti-crime obviously has a huge effect,” Monahan said on 1010 WINS radio, ahead of de Blasio’s press conference. “Those are our best cops out on the street, grabbing guns. So, there’s a feeling that it’s safe to carry a gun on the street. So, we are looking for ways to change that mentality out on the street.”
De Blasio acknowledged anti-cop sentiments.
“They’ve also experienced a lot of negative feelings directed at them,” he said. “I wish more people who wanted reform would remember you’ve got to also remember the human beings who are doing the work and protecting us.”
Meanwhile, new data shows the effect dissolving the anti-crime unit has had on gun-charge arrests.
Between June 15 and July 12, police collared 89 people on gun charges — down from 270 last year during the same period. The NYPD logged 321 arrests between May 18 and June 14, up from 287 last year.
Arrests plummeted by 67 percent, with gun charges cut in half, during the 28-day span starting on June 15 — the same day the unit was disbanded — through July 12.
Gun arrests were up more than 11 percent for the month and up 8 percent for the year in the weeks before the unit was removed.
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