It’s safe to carry again, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea all but announced a week ago — and New Yorkers listened: The city’s seen dozens of shootings since, many times the number in the same week a year ago.
The early death toll includes the outright assassination of Kenneth Singleton, 35, in East New York as he was washing his car Saturday morning and the passing that night of another man, 36, in the East Village when a gun in his waistband went off by accident. Oh, and that triple murder in Brownsville.
Chicago, here we come.
We’ve warned for years that the NYPD’s anti-gun initiatives are more about discouraging people from carrying illegal guns than catching everyone who does. The point being that guns left stashed somewhere are far less likely to be used — not handy to reach for in a moment of passion.
Yet Shea felt compelled last week to announce what he admitted was a “seismic” shift: the disbanding of the plainclothes anti-crime units that were the last cops left keeping guns off the street. The roughly 600 officers were reassigned to the Detective Bureau, community policing and “response autos,” i.e., patrolling in marked cars.
The commissioner ruefully said the move closed the final chapter in the “stop, question and frisk” book — as NYPD critics have demanded for years.
Those same critics pointed to how crime kept coming down even as police use of stop-and-frisk fell more than 95 percent. But it turns out that last 5 percent was vital: Decades of enforcement had taught New Yorkers that it was risky to carry, and even reduced enforcement kept the lesson sticking.
But now the cork is completely out of the bottle.
No, Shea’s move wasn’t the only reason for the surge in shootings: Recent weeks had already brought rising mayhem, thanks to tensions from the lockdowns, the cover that protests have provided for criminal gangs and the stretching-thin of the NYPD by the pandemic and orders to (sort of) enforce social-distancing rules — as well as redeployments to safeguard protests and combat rioters and looters.
Plus, with courts near-frozen by the pandemic, hundreds of gun-possession cases are in limbo — and the perps walking free.
Cop morale is down, too: State and city lawmakers are rushing to appease the “defund the police” marchers, passing new laws that limit policing without much heed to which ones are actually wise reforms, and which are gifts to career criminals.
Heck, not just cop morale: District attorney’s offices all across the state are seeing a flight of veteran prosecutors, as the no-bail law makes it near-impossible to get bad guys off the streets even when they’re caught red-handed. Correction officers feel besieged as well.
Pinhead progressives and their allies in public office pretend that this can be fixed with a few more city-funded social workers, more arts and recreation activities and so on.
Sorry, Jumaane: Counseling alone will never be enough.
The question now is: Can the NYPD get the cork back in the bottle? Not all by itself, we fear.
Unless and until the politicians change course, things are likely to get worse before they get better.
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