Activists unhappy with NYC mayor's violent crime plan

AP Photo/Brittainy Newman

New York City Mayor Eric Adams was elected in part for his tough-on-crime campaign promises. Considering the way the city has gone, especially with regard to violent crime, it was probably needed.

After all, things are anything but sweet in the Big Apple, especially after the murder of an NYPD officer over the weekend.

That meant Adams needed to unveil his plan to address the problem. Unsurprisingly, it’s not sitting well with some people.

Eric Adams, the new mayor of New York City, announced on Jan. 24 a detailed plan aiming to end gun violence in his city. Adams, a former police officer and Brooklyn borough president, made public safety one of the tentpoles of his campaign, amid much attention to a national rise in gun violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the plan’s comprehensive focus on law enforcement strategies—as opposed to more community-led initiatives—has some community leaders in the city concerned.

The plan calls for collaboration with state officials, federal partners and agencies and the Biden administration. In New York City specifically, the policy changes and proposals include an increase in patrol officers within the 30 precincts where 80% of the city’s violence occurs. (These precinct neighborhoods are primarily marginalized and disenfranchised parts of the city.)

The blueprint calls for a focus on “new technologies and software” to identify people believed to be carrying guns; Adams has also confirmed that he will be bringing back a controversial plainclothes anti-gun unit that was disbanded in 2020. There will also be a focus on disrupting the flow of illegal weapons into the communities impacted by gun violence.

“[Mayor Adams] is very much relying on law enforcement. He comes from a law enforcement background so I can see why he relies on these strategies in this plan but it’s not getting at the root causes enough,” Carl Hamad-Lipscombe, executive director of Envision Freedom Fund, a Brooklyn-based bail fund tells TIME. “It’s reminiscent of policies from the 90s. New Yorkers have a long memory. We remember how these policies played out. We remember feeling like our communities were under siege.”

It may have felt that way, but the violent crime rate in New York City was dropping in the 90s. It may not have been pleasant to live there, but those efforts were clearly working as intended.

It wasn’t until after all those things ended that we started seeing problems. No, not immediately, but that’s hardly surprising. It takes a little while for that kind of effect to show up because behavior doesn’t change immediately, especially when the policies have been in place most of the average criminals’ life.

Look, if people in New York want to try community-based approaches to addressing violent crime, they’re more than welcome to do so. Hell, I actually encourage it. I’m a big believer in the idea that the best way to fight crime is to prevent people from becoming criminals.

But that’s not where Adams is going to focus his attention because the problem is immediate. Community-based solutions take time, time Adams probably figures he doesn’t have. So, he’s turning to law enforcement to deal with violent crime.

That just makes a lot of sense.

Plus, community-based programs don’t necessarily require the government to be involved. You can do that on your own. Unless, of course, some people just want to bash the police all over again. That didn’t go badly the last time or anything.

I mean, we had this whole “defund the police” that was immediately followed by a massive surge in violent crime across the entire nation. I’m sure that was all coincidence and this time, everything will be different.

And if you buy that, I’ve got a bridge to sell ya.