Leaders in the black community are calling on the New York Police Department to bring back the plainclothes Anti-Crime Unit that was eliminated last month as shootings and murders spike across the city.
About 600 undercover officers from the unit were set to be transferred to other assignments including detective work and policing neighborhoods, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said a month ago. The anti-crime unit, which was responsible for getting guns off the streets, had been criticized as stoking distrust in law enforcement in minority communities.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, one of the African-American voices calling for action on gun violence, criticized the police force’s decision to completely disband the unit. He deplored the recent deadly shooting of a one-year-old, one of the victims of New York City’s recent spike in gun violence.
“I think that a total elimination is something we need to reevaluate,” Adams said, CBS New York reported. “Right now, bad guys are saying if you don’t see a blue and white you can do whatever you want.”
Tony Herbert, an activist in New York’s black community, agreed and lamented the rise in violence, criticizing New York officials for their failure to address the situation.
“The guns keep going off and now we have a 1-year-old and the blood is on the hands of the mayor and the state Legislature,” Herbert said.
The decision to disband the anti-crime unit was also panned by Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch, who warned that consequences would follow if city leaders refused to deal with increased gun violence.
“Anti-Crime’s mission was to protect New Yorkers by proactively preventing crime, especially gun violence,” Lynch said in a statement. “Shooting and murders are both climbing steadily upward, but our city leaders have decided that proactive policing isn’t a priority anymore. They chose this strategy. They will have to reckon with the consequences.”
The city’s murder rate for the month ending June 7 has more than doubled from the same period last year, and shooting victims have increased by 45 percent. Meanwhile, arrests for illegal gun possession have dropped dramatically, with only 29 people arrested during the week that ended July 5, down from 70 during the same week last year, according to NYPD data.
In recent weeks, the NYPD has experienced a surge of over 400 percent in retirement applications from officers amid tensions with city officials and after the city’s police budget was slashed by $1 billion.