It has been an overwhelming summer, considering New York was the country’s epicenter for COVID-19 cases earlier this season. The state has been the sight of many protests in support of the BLM movement. “Law and Order. If @NYCMayor can’t do it, we will!” tweeted President Trump on August 16th in regards to, what many local newspapers are calling, the deadliest summer since 1996. This number has more than doubled from the same period the previous year. Gunmen have fired into people’s homes, backyards, at parks, subway stations, at cars; you name it. Former NYPD lieutenant, Darrin Porcher, told CBS2 News that NYC has “far eclipsed the number of shootings for the last two years in this year alone.” Although all five boroughs have fallen victim to neighborhood gun violence, Brooklyn and the Bronx have recorded the highest number of shootings this year so far. In fact, there were 242 shootings recorded in August alone, up 62% from last year.
The NYPD stated that feuds between street gangs are due to a recent lack of crime prevention resources. Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams has called for a Tri-State task force to deal with “the over-proliferation of handguns in our city”, and blames high unemployment rates for this sudden spike in violence. On the other hand, NYC’s Police Commissioner, Dermot Shea, has placed the blame on bail reform and early prisoner releases, which were explained as helping to curb the pandemic, despite the lack of evidence to back up his assumptions.
Of course, an immense amount of pressure has now been placed upon New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio to turn this city around. When questioned about the city’s sudden decline in safety, Mayor DeBlasio brought attention to the New York court system, which he claimed has not been running up-to-par in midst of the pandemic. At his live briefing on July 17th, DeBlasio contended that “our courts not only need to reopen, they need to reopen as fully and as quickly as possible.” In opposition, Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus R.Vance, told the New York Times “the way we are processing arrests has not changed at all.” He claimed that in May, the quantity and severity of arrests that were being processed was the same as it was in January. “We’re open,” Vance proclaimed in response to DeBlasio’s backhanded attack.
Overall, the Mayor agreed that all the aforementioned reasons provide the “perfect storm” for this year’s widespread gun problem. No matter who is to blame for this surge in violence, that has swept every major city in the nation, criminal justice experts are urging cops to focus on the flow of illegal guns into the city instead of counterproductively playing the “blame game.” At the July 17th briefing, Mayor DeBlasio and Commissioner Shea unveiled their “End Gun Violence Plan” to the public.
“The NYPD will shift patrol and detective resources to areas with high gun violence, organize gun buy-back events, increase coordination with Cure Violence, and reorganize the Community Affairs Bureau to provide more proactive engagement in communities that have seen increased violence” announced the Commissioner. Most importantly, the New York government is looking to work with community-run organizations who actively reach out to youths, especially ages 15-24, who have been exposed to unhealthy social conditions where violence becomes a learned behavior.
The Cure Violence program employs violence interrupters and “outreach workers” from high risk neighborhoods to become leaders in their communities. Unfortunately, while these plans take some time to kick in, gun violence remains a major public health epidemic making our neighborhoods feel a little less like home.