Mayor Eric Adams managed to get through his speech “firm hand” against the upsurge in armed violence in the municipal elections of 2021. He took office on January 1st and today he has been in power for exactly 100 days, a period that coincides with one of the most violent and bloody winters and early spring in the recent history of the Big Apple.
In these first 100 days, which is usually a calendar period that marks balances, achievements, criticism and evaluations for all the rulersalmost all opinions agree, that in matters of public security, the new president gave in a few days a resounding turn at the helm of how the City assumed the approach to crime.
The president put countermeasures, rearmed and brought back strategies from the past that had been eliminated by his predecessor Bill de Blasio, but which, in his opinion, will bring peace back to New Yorkers.
Only in a couple of weeks, the controversial anti-crime unit of the New York Police Department (NYPD) was reinstated, a policy of meticulous monitoring of “quality of life crimes” was announced that for those in the know revitalizes the strategy of ” Ventanas Rotas” (‘Brokens Windows’) which “does not forgive” petty crimes such as jumping the Subway turnstiles, using loud music, drink alcohol, urinate in the streets.
Also included in the above equation of measures is increased policing in by definition more violent neighborhoods, which experts say also resurrects the practice. Stop and Review (‘Stop and Frisk’)associated with a disproportionate criminalization of black and Hispanic minorities in the past.
“We will have improvements before the summer months, when we traditionally see an increase in crime. All our measures have been worked with the communities most overwhelmed by insecurity. In all these actions, we are going to distance ourselves from the police abuses of the past”the president has reiterated in his own balance sheets.
Very violent first months
The announcement of the new measures has been met with armed violence galloping at full speed so many in the traditionally “hotter” neighborhoodsas in all Subway stations.
From January 1, until that week, 332 New Yorkers have been victims of gun violencean increase of 14.5% when compared to 2021.
All this accompanied by bloody events that have shaken the city, such as the murder of the two Hispanic police officers, Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, who were shot in an apartment in Harlem while answering a 911 call.
Since then, news of murders such as that of the young Puerto Rican woman who was fatally shot while working at a Burger King, and more recently Esperanza Soriano, a 61-year-old Dominican grandmotherwho was fatally shot when caught in the fire in a gang dispute in the bronxhave moved the fiber more of the fear and pain of New Yorkers.
“We want a strong hand”
“These three months have been very sad for New Yorkers. They have killed policemen, children, grandmothers, they push people on the subway. Small shopkeepers in the poorest neighborhoods are overwhelmed. The Mayor has indeed shown signs of change. But the majority wants a stronger hand. As they let the criminals advance for years, it will not be easy to control them”, the winemaker reasons alarmed in a corner of the Bronx. Francis Mars.
Since the protests over police brutality in the face of the murder of George Floyd, which in the summer of 2020 promoted a series of laws that lowered the budget and power of the Uniformed, small business associations They have raised the flags in favor of the officers.
“Because of those protests they looted our merchants. Due to changes in the laws our merchants of the poorest neighborhoods are now more defenseless. The thugs lost respect for authority. Those of us who have suffered are those of us who live in working-class neighborhoods. There are too many weapons. Every day we know of an innocent who is shot,” said Marte, who heads the NYC Association of Wineries and Small Businesses.
The “hell” of the Subway
Although most agree that it is too soon for Adams’s policies to show results, another truth reflected in official numbers is that all serious crimes increased 44% until last Sunday. If contrasted with the same time period last year.
In addition, the 49% of regular users of the Subway, they assure in some surveys, that they avoid at all costs go down “to hell” from the wagons for fear of being killed, robbed or pushed into the wagons.
In Adams’s early days, in his new office at City Hall, the city was also shaken by the push of the Asian Michelle Alyssa Go, 40 years oldwho was crushed in the train cars at the Times Square station. The person responsible confessed to the murder. He was one of thousands of mentally challenged homeless people wandering this system.
“There are more and more. I don’t see any change. It’s hard to make a trip without being bothered in the cars. They need help. But we travelers safety. Now we prefer to be locked up, ”she commented the Colombian Carmen Gonzalez, age 50, resident of Queens.
On the sixth day of officially taking office, Adams formed with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul the Safe Options Support Team (SOS) that sent more police force to increase surveillance in the “hottest” points of the Subway and intervene in the problems of the ‘homeless’ who spend the night on rails and stations.
Four months later, the real effects of this action, are not yet clear.
Will the plan work?
Where there are radical differences of opinion, it is around the effectiveness in the future of the two key policies announced by Adams to stop the criminal boom: First, the restoration of the dismantled NYPD Anti-Crime Unit, now called Neighborhood Safety Groupsand second, the reissue of a series of strategies that for critics resemble the practices of Stop and Review (‘Stop and Frisk’) Y Broken Windows (‘Broken Windows’).
In both cases, the president himself flatly denies that it is about bringing past practices associated with police abuse to the present: “We are not going back, but the city is not going back on crime either. The key here is the balance between justice and security”.
In short, the master plan consists of deploying more officers from the new squad in 30 police stations and four public housing police districts, where, derived from the balances of the Uniformada, the 80% of shootings in the city. They have special uniforms and unidentified vehicles, with a mission to get guns off the streets.
In this sense, spokespersons for the New York Police Benevolent Association (PAB), a uniformed union that was confronted with the security policies advanced by former Mayor Bill De Blasio, have shared that “until now” they are giving him a vote of confidence in Adams.
“It is unreasonable to expect Mayor Adams and the NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell completely turn the ship around in 100 days, when their predecessors they spent eight years giving away the streets to criminals”, reasoned Pat Lynch, president of PAB to local media.
Lynch’s reasoning is that there is now a marked difference from a mayor who is willing to tell police officers that they have “power to do your job”.
“Don’t promise too much”
On the other hand, Jeffrey Fagana crime expert from the Columbia Law School, analyzes in an interview with the publication Politicianthat there are a series of external factors that make it impossible for a mayor to guarantee, on his own, a reduction in crime rates.
“It would be smart not to promise too much,” Fagan advised.
This academic questioned the methodology in the control of weapons in the streets, through the new police units, in addition to the opinion that the focus on prosecuting minor crimes, with the hope that such application would prevent more serious crimes, “was misdirected because it is an old model of thinking about crime.”
There is also an almost absolute consensus on the idea that there are no immediate solutions so that a Mayor, whoever he may be, can unravel the scourge of criminal violence, in a few months. Even more so, with all the headwinds that a city continues to have, which is barely trying to get up from the pandemic.
Instead, nicole gelinasa principal investigator at the Manhattan Institute who monitors insecurity issues in New York City, concludes in some articles published in local media that the plans advanced by the new municipal administration They deserve a chance.
Gelinas ponders that the plan is unlikely to reverse the rise in crime on its own unless the City is willing to step up proactive policing, refocusing on misdemeanor “quality of life” crimes.
In the Line of Fire: Bail Law Reform
From another very thorny flank, in his capital plan against crime, the president formally requested the State Assembly to review legislation related to the administration of criminal justice, such as the reform laws to bail bonds in force since 2020, the increase in the age of criminal responsibility and discovery of criminal records, which at its discretion they have put dangerous people on the street.
Amid a wave of shootings and violence on the trains, Governor Kathy Hochul joined this vision. And she, in fact, she finally managed to negotiate this Friday with the resistance of the most progressive Democratic wing, some modifications that will be included in the 2023 state fiscal budget.
He remembered allow judges to set bail for repeat offendersthose who commit hate crimes and weapons-related charges.
Now it will be at the discretion of the judges, if the criminal record determines that someone is likely to do “harm” if released.
Fears of “zero tolerance”
In the campaign for municipal charges, criminal violence was at a hotspot last year and a report by the ‘Manhattan Institute (MI)’ revealed that one in five Big Apple voters he was highly “concerned about public safety,” more than anything else, even amid the economic challenges of the pandemic.
More importantly, 68% of respondents “somewhat” or “strongly” supported “the use of a community policing model“, where the police actively collaborate with the communities to stop the shootings.
In general, the policy labeled by many as “Zero Tolerance” is accompanied by a new anti-weapon squad, intolerance of minor crimes, such as avoiding paying for the Subway. Predictably, it has generated adverse reactions from civil rights organizations that they predict times of persecution of the poorestAfrican Americans, and Hispanics.
In this panorama, it is predicted that the times of the former presidents will return Rudolf Giuliani and Michael Bloombergmarked by complaints and reports of police practices of police persecution and abuse of ethnic minorities in the Big Apple.
The new measure will initially be used in neighborhoods experiencing high rates of gun violence in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
Dozens of organizations forecast a new era of mass incarceration.
“They’re just doubling discredited policing strategies that will not make us safer and only further exacerbates the racial disparities in New York’s criminal legal system,” he reasoned. Molly Griffard, lawyer at Legal Aid Society.
Based on the balance of several organizations before the new squads were repowered and it was ordered to put more focus on “quality of life” crimes, only in 2021, the 91% of the 1,524 arrests in police interventions similar were from black and Latino New Yorkers.
What do the numbers say?
- 35% and 40% increased all serious crimes as assaults in the first four months of 2022.
- 332 victims of armed violence from January 1, 2022.
- one4% was the increase in shootings with a very clear impact on injuries and murders of innocent people who were in the line of fire, not due to clashes between gangs.
- 1.3 million calls to 311 by neighborhood reports of “quality of life” problems, only in March. The complaints range from urinating in public, playing dice in the streets, noisy parties, evading paying the subway, selling drugs on the street and consuming alcohol on public roads.
- 30 police headquarters they are now reinforced with new squads that include Harlem and Inwood in Manhattan, Melrose and Morrisania in the Bronx; East Flatbush and Canarsie in Brooklyn; and various parts of southeastern Queens.
- 135 arrests have carried out the new neighborhood anti-crime brigades since last March 14.
- 19% of those arrests included confiscation of firearms.