The New York Police Department has plans to establish “Neighborhood safety teams” to combat street crime in what is likely an effort to restore an improved version of the department‘s disbanded anti-crime unit.
The plainclothes anti-crime unit, which sought to prevent gun violence in the city, was disbanded in June 2020 after several high-profile police encounters — including the May 2020 death of George Floyd and the 2014 death of Eric Garner at the hands of an officer assigned to the NYPD task force.
“Neighborhood Safety Teams will be responsible for addressing violent street crimes, specifically targeting perpetrators who carry and use illegal firearms,” a memo from NYPD Chief Ken Corey obtained by The New York Post states.
The teams, which will be made up of plainclothes and uniformed officers, will replace uniformed Public Safety Teams and work to take illegal firearms off the streets of New York, the Post reported.
Officers assigned to the new squad “will perform duty attired in a hybrid plain-clothes/uniform, and their name, rank, and shield number will appear on their outermost garment at all times so that the public and other officers can identify them as members of the service,” Corey wrote in the memo obtained by the Post.
Newly elected Mayor Eric Adams, former Brooklyn Borough president, previously expressed interest in reinstating a version of the anti-crime unit following the tragic shooting death of 1-year-old Davell Gardner, who was struck in the stomach with a bullet during a family cookout.
“I think that a total elimination is something we need to reevaluate,” Adams, a former police officer, told CBS New York in 2020. “Right now, bad guys are saying, ‘If you don’t see a blue and white, you can do whatever you want.'”
When former NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea disbanded the unit in 2020, he said that the unit was responsible for a disproportionate number of shootings and complaints.
A holdover from the department’s “stop and frisk” era, the anti-crime unit is no longer a fit in a department that has shifted to relying more heavily on intelligence, data and tools like video, DNA and shot-detection technology to fight crime, Shea added.
“Make no mistake, this is a seismic shift in the culture of how the NYPD polices this great city,” Shea had said, according to the Associated Press. “It will be felt immediately in the communities that we protect.”
In December, murders and shootings were up year to date while other crimes such as burglary and larceny were down. There were 485 murders last year citywide as of New Year’s Eve — 17 more than the number of homicides recorded over the same time period in 2020. In 2019, the NYPD recorded just 318 murders, according to the New York Daily News.
The NYPD also recorded 1,562 shooting incidents in 2021 — 30 more than the number of shootings recorded in 2020.
Fox News’ Greg Norman, Rebecca Rosenberg and Bryan Llenas contributed to this report.