NEW YORK — New York City is experiencing a violent crime surge that’s divulged into a gun violence crisis; the police commissioner will tell you that himself, though he says it didn’t come out of nowhere.
High profile shootings have exacerbated the issue: the fatal shooting of a Queens boy just days before his 11th birthday, a 4-year-old girl injured by gunfire in Times Square, a Marine visiting the area struck by a bullet just weeks later in the Crossroads of the World, and a series of other brazen shootings — many involving teenagers.
“People are being victimized, and [the NYPD is] the front line to hold that down. And we need help, and the help isn’t coming quick enough,” he said in a one-on-one interview with PIX11’s Kori Chambers.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced the declaration of a disaster emergency on gun violence, the first in the nation to do so.
“I said this last year, stood in front of a camera in Times Square and said ‘there’s a gun crisis right now,'” Shea said. “So it wasn’t exactly, to me, a news flash. I don’t think it was to anyone else either.”
Not long ago, New York had been celebrating historic crime lows, but the conversation has shifted — even intensifying in recent months, weeks, and even days.
When it comes to the genesis of the growing gun crisis, Shea said it’s not on his rank and file.
“What’s changed? What’s changed?”
Instead, he said, the problem started with recent bail reforms.
“Let’s have that discussion about why can’t we keep individuals carrying guns [in jail] and give the judge the right to remand those individuals. You’ll see shootings plummet, you’ll see them plummet almost overnight — when people understand that there’s a consequence for carrying a gun. Let’s start there.”
So, as the governor touts his emergency declaration to address gun violence, Shea said you can’t separate the response from the cause — in this case, bail reform packages led by Cuomo.
“There’s no getting around that,” he said. “If you’re going to argue against that one, you’re going to lose. In my opinion. “
The governor’s office responded, pushing back on those claims: “These talking points were debunked when Trump was saying them, and they are no more true now that others are recycling them. The fact is that shootings are up in nearly every city across the nation, even in states that haven’t reformed their cash bail system — and it’s going to take an innovative and holistic approach to solve this emergency. That’s what the governor is implementing.”
More from Kori Chamber’s conversation with Commissioner Dermot Shea airs Thursday on the PIX11 News at 10.