Shootings in the city this year are down about 12 percent over last year, and arrests on gun charges are up, according to quarterly crime statistics shared by the New York Police Department Thursday.
Police have seized more than 3,700 illegal firearms so far this year, Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. As of Thursday, the department reported, just 158 of them had been taken by the NYPD’s Neighborhood Safety Teams, which the mayor recently revived in spite of concerns about the aggressive tactics a similar team used to find firearms in the past before it was disbanded under former Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Now, politicians and police are preparing for more New Yorkers to be carrying guns, after a Supreme Court ruling struck down the state’s strict concealed carry laws. Legislators passed an emergency bill last week that will make it illegal to possess a gun in many parts of the city, in an effort to curb the effects of the ruling.
Sewell said the department will continue to prioritize getting guns off the streets.
“We will not take our foot off the gas,” she said.
Between April and June, officers conducted more firearms arrests than in any quarter since 1995, chief of crime control strategies Michael LiPetri said.
Police also used the press conference to speak out about bail reform laws, which they say allow many people they arrest to go home soon afterward.
“Who are we arresting? The same people that we’ve been arresting for the past couple years,” he told reporters.
LiPetri said 22% of people arrested with guns have already been convicted of a felony, while 16% have an open felony case.
“You would think those people would be incarcerated today,” he said. “But they’re not.”
Advocates argue the move to prohibit cash bail in most cases, protects poor people from being disproportionately punished, and keeps them out of Rikers Island, where conditions are so dire that it could soon be taken over by the federal government. Researchers also say reducing the use of cash bail does not seem to have had a substantial effect on crime. Police, on the other hand, say it has emboldened people to commit crimes with less fear of consequences.
Lawmakers have already expanded the list of bail-eligible crimes in the latest budget, at the behest of law enforcement. At Thursday’s meeting, Commissioner Keechant Sewell urged them once again to give judges more power to set bail, especially when they believe someone poses a danger to the community.