Shootings increased dramatically in New York City last week following the NYPD’s decision to eliminate a controversial plainclothes anti-crime unit.
“I think it’s time to move forward and change how we police in this city,” said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. “We can do it with brains, we can do it with guile, and we can move away from brute force.”
Shea said the decision had nothing to do with George Floyd, but was a “policy shift coming from me, personally.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has already promised to cut the NYPD’s budget to invest in youth employment programs, praised the decision: “Your city hears you. Actions, not words.”
The plainclothes unit was disbanded on Monday, June 15th. By Saturday, there had been 28 shootings and 38 victims (compared to 12 shootings during the same week last year).
“This is what the politicians wanted – no bail, nobody in Rikers, cops not arresting anyone,” said one official. “All those things equal people walking around on the street with guns, shooting each other.”
Shea’s decision is a “cold calculation” that an increase in crime is worth fewer civilian deaths at the hands of police, says Eugene O’Donnell, a Criminal Justice professor at John Jay College and former police officer. “The calculation in the big cities is, as long as it’s not at the hands of the police, you can have carnage.”
The plainclothes unit, which involved some 600 officers, was routinely criticized for its aggressive tactics and racial bias; it received ‘a disproportionate percentage of complaints.’
Keep in mind this is an elite team sent into the most dangerous situations, utilized specifically for gun arrests and stopping violent crimes. Of course these officers are going to be involved in more police shootings than other cops. And of course, the unit’s removal will lead to an increase in shootings.
If New York City decides to follow this route, they deserve whatever happens.