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NYC to disband anti-crime unit

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The New York Police Department is disbanding its plainclothes, or anti-crime unit, as a part of police reform, says Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.

“This is a policy shift coming from me personally,” he said. “It’s a big move. I would consider this in the same realm as (moving away) from stop, question and frisk. It’s time to move forward and change how we police in this city. We can do it with brains, with guile, and not with brute force.”

The New York Daily News reports that through the weekend there were double the number of homicides from the same four-week period last year, and 25 percent more for 2020 compared to 2019.

“Shootings also jumped — by 32.6% over the last month compared to the same month in 2019, and 24.3% so far for the year,” says the Daily News. “Burglaries have climbed citywide by 47% for the year so far, with 6,595 incidents versus 4,480 in the same period in 2019.”

The plainclothes unit, say opponents, has been involved in an inordinate amount of violence against “communities of color.”

In fact, police, says New York’s Legal Aid Society, a critic of the anti-crime units, are just used to keep Black people in “check.”

“White Americans know that a de facto function of the police is to keep Black people in check; and when they have called the police, it was a given that the officers would side with them against Black people,” write attorneys at New York’s Legal Aid Society.

The Legal Aid Society praised the decision to shutter the anti-crime units

“There is no better place to start reducing the NYPD’s headcount than by disbanding the Anti-Crime Unit, an outfit infamous for employing hyper-aggressive policing techniques to brutalize New Yorkers—mostly those from communities of color—and to defy their basic constitutional rights,” they said in a statement.

Police Union officials, however, warn that the move will backfire, especially with crimes involving guns.

“They chose this strategy,” said Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch about disbanding the units. “They will have to live with the consequences.”

The anti-crime units were created to proactively police the communities that they serve, to prevent crime by being present and knowing the neighborhoods.

“Anti-crime units within the precincts have been around for decades and again, been a key component to reduce crime on the streets,” said ABC News consultant Bob Boyce, a former police detective. “That’s what they do. So it’s been successful back in the ’70s, ’60s and all the way up to now. Taking this away from them, you’re not getting the same product.”

Commissioner Shea agrees that the move is risky.

“Shea acknowledged that disbanding the units risked backfiring,” reports Newsday, “with fewer gun arrests while crime was rising.”

PHOTO: Caitlin Ochs / Reuters file

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