New York City police say shootings are up so far this year, the first time in 25 years when the nation’s “safest big city” showed an upward trend in crime.
To combat the spike, 330 officers are being pulled from their usual duties for special patrols, Chief of Department James O’Neill said Monday.
“We do not take this lightly,” O’Neill said. “This is our focus.”
The department used similar patrols last summer to combat a rise in shootings and other violence predicted during the hotter months. This year, the patrols will start next week, a month earlier than last year.
So far this year there have been 439 shootings, up from 403 in 2014, according to departmental figures. There were 2,091 shootings for the same period in 1993, when crime was at a high.
Police say almost all of the 135 homicides so far this year were committed with a gun. This comes the first year after Mayor Bill de Blasio substantially cut the amount of stops police are allowed to make when noticing suspicious people.
The mayor said on Tuesday that the increase was mainly due to gang violence and the city was not any less safe.
“We know for sure that the increase in both murders and shootings has occurred in a small number of precincts, and has been primarily because of gang and crew-related activities,” he told reporters at an unrelated press conference.
“I have a lot of faith in the men and women of the NYPD. I know they will turn the tide.”