Brooklyn Borough President: NYPD should bring back anti-crime units and stop the violence

Last month, under pressure to show the NYPD was willing to reform, Commissioner Dermot Shea announced he was putting an end to plainclothes anti-crime units in the department. About 600 officers were reassigned to other duties. At the time, Shea warned that the decision was “not without risk.”

In the wake of a surge in violent crime in New York City including the death last weekend of a 1-year-old child, some are now suggesting it’s time to reconsider that decision. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and community activist Tony Herbert want the NYPD to bring the anti-crime units back.

Adams, a former cop, became the second member of the African-American community to call on the NYPD to stop the violence by re-instituting the Anti-Crime Unit — undercover cops whose job was to get guns off the street. The unit was disbanded during the anti-cop protest that shook the city.

“I think that a total elimination is something we need to reevaluate,” said Adams. “Right now, bad guys are saying if you don’t see a blue and white you can do whatever you want.”

Community activist Tony Herbert agrees.

“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,” said Herbert.

As much as I’d like to think it’s possible for cities like New York, Seattle and Minneapolis to reconsider some of the decisions they’ve made about policing recently, I don’t think it’s going to happen. The loudest voices in New York City and the country as a whole are still treating police as the problem rather than the solution.

Yesterday the NY Times published an editorial which opens by referencing the surge in violent crime and then spends six paragraphs denouncing the NYPD for everything from arresting protesters to failing to prevent looting and riots.

The department made more than 2,500 arrests and held hundreds of people for over 24 hours without them seeing a judge. The Legal Aid Society has sued, arguing that the detentions violated a state law requiring arraignment within a day. Arrestees were also held in crowded, unsanitary jail cells at Police Headquarters and other locations in the midst of the pandemic…

Even as officers battled peaceful protesters in the streets, the department failed to prevent theft and the destruction of property in Midtown Manhattan, SoHo and the Bronx…

Over the past three decades, the department has helped keep New York one of the safest big cities in America. Yet it also has lost the confidence of many New Yorkers and is ripe for sweeping reform.

The NYPD is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. The NY Times wants to simultaneously praise the job it has done over the past several years and claim it is need of “sweeping reform” as if it were a complete failure. It must be very clear to officers on the street that, in this moment, the safest thing for them to do is to get out of the way and do as little as possible to call attention to themselves.

Here’s the report from CBS 2 which points out that shootings were up 277% last week compared to 2019. It’s clear this is a broader issue, not a problem specific to the NYPD, because we’re seeing the same surge of violence in other cities. When you put the police on their back foot, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that criminals feel emboldened.