Updated as of 3/17/2022 at 10:00 a.m. ET
In an attempt to battle gun violence and the rise of crime in New York, Mayor Erics Adams has rolled out the new Neighborhood Safety Teams to target firearms, reported POLITICO. Adams said promised this team would take a more ethical and constitutional approach to policing than the previous plainclothes, anti-crime unit disbanded in 2020, which was criticized by the public.
Adams vowed to support the officers even if they draw criticisms for how they do their jobs.
But Adams, a retired NYPD captain who worked to reform the department from within, criticized the decision to get rid of the team, saying it was partially to blame for the rise in crime.
“Promise made, promise kept,” he said Wednesday. “I made a promise to New Yorkers on the campaign trail to put in place a specialized unit that’s going to zero in on gun violence. I also made the promise that we are not going to duplicate the problems we had in the past.”
Adams went on to say he would not tolerate bystanders getting “on top of” officers from the new units to film their activities, a practice he said “has gotten out of control” and created a “dangerous environment.”
Some officials shared concerns about the rollout of the team. City Councilwoman Tiffany Caban said she was concerned not so much about a change of uniform but the tension between police and the community.
“We know that those things work, and we need to deeply invest in them rather than continuing to invest in these failed policing policies that decade over decade, have shown themselves not only to be ineffective but to have driven a lot of harm in our communities,” said Caban, via CNN.
Additionally, activists and civil rights groups cited the previous anti-gun units involvement in the killing of Eric Garner (2014) and Amadou Diallo (1994), doubting the new team will operate any different.
“Historically, these units have been involved in excessive force at rates that are disproportionate to the rest of the department. They’ve racked up higher rates of misconduct allegations and they’ve been involved in some of the most notorious killings of New Yorkers,” said Michael Sisitzky, senior policy counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“It’s all the more critical that the public know they do have the right under the First Amendment, and under New York City and New York state law, to document and expose police misconduct,” he said in an interview. “This kind of message coming from the administration seems clearly designed to discourage New Yorkers from engaging in their constitutional right to hold police accountable.”
The teams are expected to be dispersed to 25 neighborhoods which officials say account for 80 percent of gun violence in the city, reported CNN. NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said the officers go through a seven-day training learning communications skills, courtroom testimony training, de-escalation tactics in car stops and minimal force techniques.
Though officers will be specially trained and required to wear NYPD logos on their clothes, they’ll still be in unmarked cars with dashboard cameras, reported CNN.