New York Daily News

July 14, 2004

Calling all cops:

Commish alarmed by lethal weekend

By MICHELE MCPHEE AND GREG GITTRICH
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU

MOVING SWIFTLY in the wake of last weekend's murder spree, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has ordered hundreds of additional cops to flood the streets - demanding that almost every able body step up to help stop serious crime.

The sweeping crackdown will move detectives and cops from every NYPD bureau - including narcotics, gang and organized crime units - to overnight shifts throughout the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Daily News has learned.

The directive, which took effect last night, sends many more cops into crime-plagued neighborhoods when the most serious problems erupt, between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Kelly handed down the order Monday night - after 11 people were killed and another nine were shot during an unusually bloody three days.

"We're sending hundreds of cops into the night," said a top police official.

"In the wake of the shootings over the weekend, the police commissioner wanted to jump on this quickly - the same way we have with quality of life and other crime in general," said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne.

The massive show of force began in 14 precincts and will continue for at least two weeks.

The hot spots were chosen by examining recent trends - including the areas victimized by the highest number of shootings and drug activity in the last 28 days, officials said.

Cops will focus on making gun arrests and drug busts. They also will enforce warrants and target known "problem locations," including illegal after-hours clubs, officials said.

"The [weekend] spike in homicides has everyone at 1 Police Plaza going crazy," a source said. "They want to bring the numbers down."

"Everybody is affected," noted a narcotics detective.

Nearly twice as many people were killed last week as during the same seven-day span last year - 17 murders compared with nine, NYPD data show.

Despite the explosion of violence, murder is down significantly this year.

NYPD brass is fighting to keep the crime on a decline despite losing thousands of cops in recent years and the department's increased counterterrorism responsibilities.

Through Sunday, 290 people had been killed in the city, compared with 316 during the same period last year, an 8.2% decline.

Overall, major crime also has fallen by 4.14%, with every category except rape and grand larceny falling.

But the last few months also have seen several high-profile crimes, including a spate of subway shootings.

Behind the scenes, police officials are keeping a close watch over the numbers, leaving some police union officials wary.

"The real concern here is that the Republican National Convention is coming to town and there's a perception of mounting crime leading up to the convention," argued Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association.

"The mayor is broadcasting that this is the safest city in America," Palladino said. "He wants to put a lid on rising crime or it will be a major embarrassment to them."

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said the personnel changes are "a clear indication that there are far too few police officers available to cover our patrol needs."