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In letter to uniformed members, NYPD commissioner says they will have to fight crime differently and with fewer street stops

Andrew Cuomo

The New York Police Department commissioner wrote to uniformed members Tuesday that the department will have to fight crime differently — and do it with fewer street stops, according to a letter CNN obtained from a senior law enforcement official.

“In the current climate, we have to fight crime differently. We will do it with less street-stops — perhaps exposing you to less danger and liability — while better utilizing data, intelligence, and all the technology at our disposal,” Commissioner Dermot Shea wrote.

“That means for the NYPD’s part, we’ll redouble our precision-policing efforts. And we’ll hope for changes in some laws that would put people in jail who dare carry illegal guns in New York City, and for our five district attorneys to fully prosecute the criminals we bring to them — essentially, we need all parts of the system to work in unison to deliver the best results.”

“To say we’re in a very difficult position is an understatement.”

The letter comes as data from the department shows homicide, burglary and grand larceny auto crimes have spiked in the city this past month.

Data showed there have been 38 homicides over 28 days, twice as many as the same period last year as of up to June 14. So far this year, there have been 159 homicides, which is 25% higher than last year, stats also show.

Shooting incidents in 2020 are also up, with 394 happening to date, a 24% increase from the 317 shooting incidents at this point last year.

Anti-crime unit officers disbanded

The way we police this city has to evolve to be effective, Shea says.

He thanked the officers from the Anti-Crime Unit, which has been disbanded, for “proactively fighting crime, taking illegal guns off the streets and, quite frankly, saving lives.”

“To those cops: Thank you for the incredible work you’ve done — and will continue to do in other, equally important roles — on behalf of all the people we serve. I want you to know that my decision to dissolve these plainclothes teams is in no way a negative reflection on you or your accomplishments,” Shea said in the letter.

“You bravely and skillfully did exactly what we asked of you. And I know you recognize, too, that the way we police this city has to evolve if we’re to move forward effectively.”

The commissioner announced earlier this week the NYPD will reassign 600 anti-crime unit plainclothes officers into new roles effective immediately.

“This is a seismic shift in the culture in how the NYPD polices this great city. It will be felt immediately among the five district attorneys’ offices. It will be felt immediately in the communities we protect,” Shea added.

Those officers will now work in “a variety of assignments including detective bureaus, neighborhood policing, and other assignments,” he said. The NYPD will still have plainclothes officers among the ranks, he said.

The reassignments also close one of the last chapters of stop-and-frisk, Shea added.

“What we always struggle with, I believe, as police executives, is not keeping crime down, it’s keeping crime down and keeping the community with us and I think those two things, at times, have been at odds,” Shea said.

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