July 8, 2014

Mayor: Shooting Spike Unrelated to Reduction in Stop-and-Frisks

Predicts Infusion of 1,200 Cops to Trouble Spots Will Fix Problem


See article: PBA: Moving ‘Inside’ Cops to Street Shows How Short NYPD Is

While critics charged that a late-June weekend in which 21 people were shot, four fatally, showed the negative impact of reduced stop-and-frisks by cops during his administration, Mayor de Blasio July 2 insisted there was no correlation between the two and said the moving of 1,200 cops into high-crime areas—half from a new class of rookie officers that graduated Police Academy training two days earlier—should remedy the problem.

Stop-and-frisks had declined steadily during the final two years of the Bloomberg administration amid a growing outcry in minority communities and the pressure of a Federal lawsuit. Last August, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the NYPD program frequently violated the U.S. Constitution’s provision against unreasonable searches by stopping minority residents without reasonable suspicion that they had committed a crime or were in the process of doing so.

Murders, Stops Both Fell

While the NYPD scaled back the stops beginning with an order by then-Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly instructing officers to focus on “quality” stops, which their union viewed as a coded directive that there were no longer quotas for them, Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that restricting stops would send crime soaring. Yet murders in both 2012 and 2013 dropped almost as much as the stops did.

But with shootings on the rise for the first six months of the year, even with murders continuing to decline, tabloid editorial writers and other supporters of the Bloomberg policy have argued that it is the result of even-steeper declines in stop-and-frisk activity since Mr. de Blasio took office in January. Asked about this during a press conference, he said the claim wasn’t supported by the numbers over the past five years.

“We do notice with concern that shootings have been up slightly,” he said, with 521 occurring during the first six months of the year, compared to 486 for that period in 2013. But last year’s number was a record low, he pointed out, and this year’s total is the second-lowest the city has ever recorded. There were 27,252 stops by police during the first six months of 2014, just more than one-sixth the 160,035 for the same period last year.

But, the Mayor continued, the shootings in that period fell well below the average of 647 for the same periods from 2010 to 2012, at a time when stops were averaging 345,000 for the first half of the year.

‘No Correlation’

Based on those numbers, Mr. de Blasio said, “I don’t think there is a correlation in the change in stop and frisk.”

What is far more likely to have an impact in dealing with the small surge in shootings is the deployment of the 1,200 additional cops on patrol duties that began with the new Police Academy grads, the temporary assignment of 400 officers from headquarters assignments to high-crime areas that tend to be the hardest-hit during the summer, and his budgetary move under which 200 civilian Police Administrative Aides began being hired beginning July 1 to allow the transfer to patrol of a similar number of uniformed cops who had been performing desk duties.

At the June 30 graduation ceremonies inside Madison Square Garden, following showers of blue and white confetti, the new probationary Police Officers were given marching orders by Commissioner William J. Bratton to “save the children of this city.”

It was the first graduating cadet class Mr. de Blasio presided over, as well as Mr. Bratton’s first since his departure from the NYPD in 1995 despite sterling crime numbers because of a personality conflict with then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Of the new graduates, about 450 will be sent to high-crime areas spread across eight precincts as part of the department’s Operation Impact initiative to flood new police into targeted neighborhoods. This year, Mr. Bratton said he’s trying to correct “some of the deficiencies in training” by adding more supervision and guidance for rookie officers. Many of the questionable stops in recent years were made by new officers who were not closely supervised.

About 250 experienced officers and supervisors will accompany some of the new police, lowering a ratio of eight to 12 rookies per experienced officer to three per supervisor.

“I want you to learn from the best over these next several months, so that for the next 20 years you understand what it means to be a cop,” he said.

Mr. Bratton compared the city to the one he confronted in 1990, when he became Chief of the old Transit Police Department and the city reached a record-high number of murders.

“Over the last 24 years—a period of time in which some of you were not even born [and] most of you were still too young to remember the devastation of the 80s and 90s—this city reclaimed its streets,” he said.

‘Too Many Lost to Streets’

He said while the mission then was to “take back the streets,” the challenge in the much-safer city was to save its youth.

“There are too many young men in this city carrying guns who have been drawn into the crews and into the gangs,” he said. “And we need to prevent that from happening.” He added that police need to work with “young men of the Muslim faith who are being drawn by the radical Islamic movement into terrorism.”

With members with origins in 47 countries, the department is increasingly diverse. Mr. de Blasio said that of last week’s class, 51 percent were black, Latino or Asian and nearly 20 percent were women.

“You’ve been given the training, but now it’s time to participate in making this a safer city,” he said.

After First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Piñeiro gave the new officers their oaths and the cadets listened to speeches from the valedictorian, William Lynch, they threw their white gloves into the air and cannons blasted confetti around them. Many hugged.

Grad’s Dad 9/11 Victim

Speaking to the new officers, Mr. de Blasio praised graduate Kimberly Phelan, whose father was in the NYPD for nine years and a Firefighter for 12 years before he was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, for “upholding her father’s tradition of service.”

After the ceremony, she said the mayoral mention was a surprise and described the graduation as “one of the happiest days of my life.”

“Some people make their own legend and their own story, so I’m just trying to follow in my dad’s footsteps, which is hard, but I’m going to do as much as I can,” she said. “I just wanted to help people as much as possible.”

Ms. Phelan, a former Teacher, will work in a high-crime part of the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica, Queens, but she was “excited” by Mr. Bratton’s plan to offer learning for newly minted officers stationed in the city’s toughest precincts.

‘Show Us the Ropes’

“They’re not just going to throw us in there, they’re going to get senior guys to show us the ropes and make mistakes and learn from there,” she said.

While Ms. Phelan and others were fulfilling traditions, others were looking to start their own. After the ceremony, Sylvia Perez of the Bronx posed for photos with her family, including an 8-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son, and said she “wanted to start a family legacy.” When she reported for command a few days later, she said she would be assigned to the Transit Bureau in Manhattan, but said exiting the Police Academy felt like leaving another close-knit group.

“They’re a complete family,” she said. “It was amazing. It’s sad to leave them but I’m excited.”