New York City Mayor Eric Adams vowed Monday to rid the city of guns, including by deploying plainclothes police on the streets, after a spate of violence in recent days claimed the life of a young officer.
“Gun violence is a public health crisis that continues to threaten every corner of our city,” said the new mayor, himself a former police officer, as he announced the new measures.
“Public safety is my administration’s highest priority, which is why we will remove guns from our streets, protect our communities, and create a safe, prosperous, and just city for all New Yorkers,” said the Democrat.
Having taken office on January 1 on a pledge to fight crime and reduce socio-economic inequality, Adams has been confronted by a surge in violence.
On Friday, a 22-year-old New York City Police officer was killed and another seriously injured in an exchange of gunfire at an apartment in Harlem.
A week earlier in the same neighborhood, a 19-year-old Puerto Rican was shot dead by a robber in a fast food restaurant.
On January 15, a 40-year-old Asian American woman was killed by a mentally ill homeless man who pushed her onto a subway track as the train pulled into Times Square station, while in another incident an 11-month-old girl was wounded by a stray bullet in the Bronx while in a car with her mother.
“We will not surrender our city to the violent few,” said Adams. “We are not going to go back to the bad old days. We are going to get trigger pullers off the streets and guns out of their hands.”
One of the key measures of his plan is the reinstatement of plainclothes police patrols, or “anti-crime units” that will be renamed “anti-gun units”.
Those police units were feared when Michael Bloomberg was mayor between 2002-2013 for their controversial searches of young Blacks and Hispanics suspected of carrying firearms.
They were ditched in 2020 following the killing of African American George Floyd by a uniformed white police officer in Minneapolis, an incident which ignited a reckoning on racism and police violence across the United States.
In 2021, gun violence in New York increased by 4.3 percent compared to 2020, which was itself up from 2019, against the backdrop of economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.