NEW YORK CITY (PIX11) — After Mayor Eric Adams vowed to end gun violence and laid out a plan for change, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams on Tuesday said he has some questions.
Williams said the COVID-19 pandemic caused an increase in gun violence and should be factored into the city’s response.
“We know the concentration of gun violence and where it’s occurring. By the way, you’ll see an overlay of the COVID hotspots — [people] who were hit the most by COVID,” Williams said.
According to the public advocate, 6,000 guns were taken off the streets last year and the focus should be on targeting the so-called iron pipeline of illegal weapons, not bail reform, which was presented as part of Adams’ multi-pronged plan. While he applauded Adams’ approach, he also questioned how plainclothes officers will be used.
Adams on Monday laid out a 15-page blueprint to fight gun violence in New York City following a spate of unnerving shootings, including the deaths of two NYPD officers. His plan includes bringing back the NYPD’s controversial plainclothes anti-crime unit but rebranded as neighborhood safety teams, equipped with body cameras and more oversight. Those units will be added to the 30 precincts across the city with the highest crime rates.
Additionally, gun checkpoints will be put in place at city entry points, including the Port Authority bus terminal. There also will be a focus on creating jobs for at-risk city youth and increased outreach to homeless New Yorkers as well as to those with mental health problems, among other initiatives.
The mayor said 250,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are not at school and out of work. The number shows the despair. Adam said in 2019, 2.5% of people under 18 who were arrested had a firearm; that number jumped to 10% in 2021.
Meanwhile, advocacy groups like The Legal Aid Society applauded the mayor’s job expansion approach to stop crime but called on the city to invest more in mental health and counseling before touching bail reform.