New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio teased a new policing strategy Monday aimed at bolstering “gang takedowns” in neighborhoods permeated by gun violence, as the Big Apple so far plans to reopen public schools and many companies plan to have their workforces return in some capacity this fall.
The Democratic mayor said the New York Police Department will be focusing on “precision policing,” which involves officers “doing intensive work to get to the folks doing the violence and getting them off the streets and working more and more with communities.” De Blasio teased an announcement with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea planned later this week on the initiative targeting gangs.
“We are going to need more gang takedowns, more gun arrests, more cooperation with community,” de Blasio said Monday. “Gangs are the problem and this is where the focus is going to be. Also using community based leaders, community-based activists to change the reality on the ground.”
De Blasio, with only months remaining in office as the November mayoral election approaches, cited one neighborhood plagued by gun violence, the 115th precinct in Queens, where 10 people were shot Saturday in what investigators believe to be gang-related incidents. He said similar “gang takedowns” executed recently in the Bronx have proven as a “crucial tool,” which have taken “many violent individuals off the street simultaneously.”
“We know that there has been a lot of pain in the 115th precinct,” the mayor said. “We’re going to have mobile trauma units out there with translators to address concerns, feelings and trauma people have been through.”
Gang takedowns tackle gun violence differently compared to past efforts by the NYPD’s plainclothes unit, which was disbanded in June 2020 at the height of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Homicides have been surging in New York City since.
Non-uniformed officers patrolled high crime area in unmarked vehicles in an effort to identify individuals who might be illegally trafficking guns and stop street rivalries from turning deadly. The unit was criticized for alleged racial profiling, as stops were mostly conducted in minority communities.
Before unprecedented numbers seen since 2020, tactics involving “precision policing” has helped the NYPD cut shootings over the past decade by 50% while dramatically cutting down on street stops, according to recent study published in the Journal Policy Analysis and Management.
Gang takedowns involve arresting suspected members of criminal gangs in highly coordinated raids and prosecuting them on conspiracy charges, according to the study titled, “Can Precision Policing Reduce Gun Violence? Evidence from ‘Gang Takedowns’ in New York City.”
It’s been an ongoing tactic used since 2011, indicating that de Blasio’s upcoming announcement involves only bolstering pre-existing gang takedown efforts. NYPD in the past has coordinated undercover buys and built cases with the district attorney’s office or federal prosecutors to get warrants for such raids.