Police departments in New York City and other large metro areas across the U.S. are bulking up patrols and implementing new tactics to prepare for what they say could be a violent summer.
States lifting Covid-19 restrictions and more people out in public spaces in warmer weather increase the likelihood of more shootings, as well as less-serious crimes, officials say. Many crimes, including violent ones, normally rise in summer. Gun purchases also rose during the pandemic and cities have seen an increase in guns being used in crimes.
Shootings and homicides in big U.S. cities are up this year again after rising last year. In the last three months of 2020, homicides rose 32.2% in cities with a population of at least one million, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Quarterly Uniform Crime Report.
In New York City, the number of homicides has reached 146 for the year so far, an increase of 27% from 115 during the same period in 2020. In Dallas, police have counted 75 homicides this year, up from 58 during the same period last year. Chicago police have recorded 195 homicides, up from 160 in the year-ago period.
“We’re coming out of the pandemic, life is starting again and more people are going to be out on the street,” said the Jersey City, N.J., director of public safety,
The Jersey City Police Department is increasing the deployment of officers to foot posts in high-crime areas, expanding the department’s closed-circuit video system and holding public meetings to improve relations with the community, he said.
In Dallas, the city’s Violent Crime Reduction Plan includes provisions for the deployment of officers this summer to the city’s hot spots, where much of the violent crime is committed, Police Chief
The pandemic interfered with efforts by the police in Washington, D.C., to visit communities in person last year and spend time with residents face-to-face, said
chief of the city’s Metropolitan Police Department. This year, he said he believes more officers will be out in communities, building relationships.
“You wouldn’t see a lot of that last year, and we certainly want to do more of that because I think that that’s how you get to safer communities, by engaging community members of where they are,” Chief Contee said.
The MPD has recorded 69 homicides so far this year, up from 52 during the same period last year. Last year the city had 198 homicides, up from 166 in 2019, according to police.
New York Police Department officials are dispatching 200 officers and adding patrols to 100 blocks in the city with the highest levels of gun violence. The city saw one of its most violent summers in 2020, recording the most shootings since 1996.
“The warmer months always usually give us more problems when it comes to violence,” said NYPD Chief of Department
Chief Harrison said gang activity accounted for about half of the shootings in the city. He said officers struggled to solve cases during the pandemic in part because the NYPD’s relationship with residents suffered in 2020, when thousands attended demonstrations against police brutality and racism.
The NYPD would work this summer to rebuild the trust of potential witnesses to crimes by meeting with residents, community leaders and members of neighborhood groups, Chief Harrison said. The reopening of bars and other establishments may reduce violence at illegal nightclubs, which flourished during the pandemic, he said.
Police have made more arrests for gun-related crimes this year, but the effort so far has failed to slow the pace of shootings, NYPD officials say. The officials said they are also expanding the use of technology that identifies the sound and location of gunfire.
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In New York City, the number of shootings for the year so far is 451, up 86% from 242 in the same period in 2020.
Additional officers have also been deployed in recent weeks to Manhattan business districts, including Times Square, where a shooting occurred May 8 in the afternoon, according to the officials. The shooting happened after a dispute among a group of men, according to the officials. Three bystanders—a 4-year-old-girl and two women—were injured when they were hit by stray bullets.
Bill de Blasio
said after the shooting that the city is being flooded with illegal guns. He has called for stricter gun-control laws at the federal level.
Many illegal guns seized by police in New York City are purchased out of state and brought into the city, where they are subsequently sold locally, according to NYPD officials. A gun-trafficking route that starts in the South and is known as the Iron Pipeline has been active during the pandemic, the officials said.
Write to Ben Chapman at Ben.Chapman@wsj.com
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Source: WSJ – US News