In a decisive departure from his position last summer, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will deploy additional New York Police Department officers to the city’s tourist centers following a violent incident last week, and the mayor will also approve a $105 million expenditure for a new police precinct after killing the project in a bid to “defund” the NYPD last year.
De Blasio announced Monday that the NYPD will more closely patrol Times Square as the number of tourists steadily increases — and after three people were wounded in a shooting last weekend.
“More New York police officers will patrol Times Square after a shooting last weekend that injured three people, including a child, the mayor said on Monday as he sought to reassure visitors that the city is safe as it reopens after the yearlong coronavirus pandemic,” Reuters reported Tuesday. “Mayor Bill de Blasio said the New York Police Department would add an unspecified number of officers from the Critical Response Command, one of the force’s first lines of defense against a terrorist attack, to patrols in Times Square, a popular tourist attraction.”
“We’re putting additional NYPD resources in the Times Square area to add an extra measure of protection,” the mayor noted in his interview. “It will be use of our CRC officers in Times Square. You’ll see additional presence.”
The announcement comes close on the heels of another from de Blasio’s office, directly reversing course on a decision to “defund” the New York Police Department last year following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. \
In June of 2020, Politico noted, de Blasio pledged to strip New York’s law enforcement operating budget of nearly $1 billion, and take “another $500 million from its operating budget.” That drawback included a decision to scrap plans for a new NYPD precinct in Southeast Queens.
Earlier this month, de Blasio announced plans to move forward with the project, pledging $105 million to the effort.
“This is something that for decades the community asked for,” de Blasio told a press conference.
These are just the latest changes to de Blasio’s plan to “defund the police,” as Politico noted.
“Other elements of the NYPD budget cuts pledged by de Blasio and the City Council have also been scuttled. They announced that school safety agents would be moved out of the NYPD, but budget documents showed they actually remain within the police department. The same was true for school crossing guards,” Politico reported earlier in May. “An NYPD overtime cap imposed as part of the budget cut deal is expected to be missed by hundreds of millions of dollars.”
As in many major cities, New York has suffered from a dramatic rise in crime and, according to Gothamist, is suffering through its worst gun violence epidemic in “nearly a decade.”
“In 2021 alone, 299 people have been shot, a 54% increase over the same time last year, and the most the city has seen since 2012,” the outlet reported. “Ninety-two people have been murdered, a 19.5% jump, according to the most recent NYPD data. In 2020, the city recorded 462 murders, an increase of 45% from 2019, even as most other major felonies declined. Shooting incidents overall exploded 97% last year.”
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