There is a scorching editorial in today’s New York Post about the spike in gun violence and murder in the big city.
So far this year, we have suffered 22 more murders than we did at this time last year. And the obvious question is whether this disturbing uptick in homicides is related to the decline in the police tactic Stop, Question and Frisk (SQF), that was used to such impressive effect during the 20 years Republican mayors ran this town.
The issue is whether the kinder, gentler approach to policing instituted by Mayor Bill De Blasio and the liberal Democrats who now run New York are responsible for the increase in violence.
But what is unusual about the fiery column in today’s Post is that it was written not by some concerned conservative critic of the current administration, but by the police commissioner himself, Bill Bratton, the highly-regarded veteran who has brought calm professionalism to his decades running departments in Boston, Los Angeles and here, the first time around 20 years ago under Giuliani.
Basically, Commissioner Bratton is warning us not to get our panties in a bunch; that critics are over-reacting to a relatively small increase in violence; that most of the violence is the context of gangbangers and drug crews killing each other; that there is a plan to combat the increase by re-directing desk jockeys from Internal Affairs, Legal, and the License Division to street patrols in violence-prone precincts; and that stop, question and frisk still exists but at levels that protect the constitutional rights of the mostly young minority men being inconvenienced by the probing police.
So Brooklyn precincts will get 162 of the reassigned cops and the Bronx will get 134. About a third of the officers will be patrolling housing projects.
Forty will go to the 47th Precinct in the northernmost Bronx, boarding Mt. Vernon, which has seen 10 murders through June 29, compared with just one during the same period last year.
Forty cops will also arrive in the 69th Precinct in Canarsie, Brooklyn, on Monday.
Queens will be getting 17 cops — all of them going to the 113th Precinct in Jamaica.
According to Commissioner Bratton even with our increases, the past two years of the De Blasio administration have seen the lowest levels in shootings since 1993 and the lowest levels in murder since 1957.
As you might expect, critics jumped all over the commissioner accusing him of covering politically for the mayor who campaigned against the NYPD to win an overwhelming percentage of the city’s minority vote, and committing the cardinal sin of giving Reverend Al Sharpton a disproportionate voice in how cops and the city are run.
Murders are up about 20% since Michael Bloomberg surrendered the keys to City Hall. Still the rise is a tiny fraction of the homicides happening in cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago and Baltimore, which is 7% the size of New York but suffered 12 more murders this week, seven homicides in the last three days alone; six men and a woman, all of them black.
If Commissioner Bratton says he’s got it handled I’m willing to cut him some slack. But I have to say that if I lived in Canarsie or Jamaica or in the 4-7 in the North Bronx, I would call Police Headquarters or Reverend Sharpton every time the sounds of gunfire pierced the night.