De Blasio doubles down on vague answers as gunplay surges on NYC streets

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s shootings plan? Keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.

Hizzoner doubled down on his months-old answers to tackle the Big Apple’s ongoing shooting surge on Friday — insisting once again that increased gun arrests, new support for community groups and efforts to improve frayed relations between the NYPD and neighborhoods would finally yield results.

On Friday he was pressed by WNYC host Brian Lehrer who asked de Blasio during his weekly sit-down, “Despite the police seizing so many more guns, there is still the surge in shootings. What’s being done? And what more can be done.”

In response, Hizzoner reeled off the talking points that he’s used for months, referencing everything from gun seizures to changes made to police officer discipline to a new community screening component for precinct commanders.

Police at the scene where a person was shot inside of a bodega located at 1271 Webster Avenue in the Bronx on April 14, 2021.
Police at the scene where a person was shot inside of a bodega located at 1271 Webster Avenue in the Bronx on April 14, 2021.
Christopher Sadowski

“It’s never been just about policing. It also has to be about community-based solutions,” Hizzoner concluded, as he promised there will be new efforts announced “over the next few weeks.”

De Blasio is facing renewed pressure to tackle the crisis in the waning months of his mayoralty as the stories of children caught in the crossfire once again land on the front page and new crime data portend a sequel to last year’s bloodshed.

The latest round of questions came as City Hall and NYPD officials revealed to The Wall Street Journal that while gun seizures are at a 25-year-high — shootings are up 56 percent for the year so far. Those are figures not seen since 1996 and a massive 57 percent bump from the same period in 2019.

However, shootings remain stubbornly high — already up 57 percent for the year through April 11, despite an unusually cold and snowy winter that would typically serve as a deterrent to gunplay.

Police at the scene where a person was shot inside of a bodega located at 1271 Webster Avenue in the Bronx on April 14, 2021.
Police at the scene of a shooting inside of a bodega located at 1271 Webster Avenue in the Bronx on April 14, 2021.
Christopher Sadowski

That pace has quickened even more over the last four weeks with shootings up 96 percent compared to the same time a year ago, nearly matching the increases seen at the height of the shooting crisis last summer as the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic receded.

The mayor has been repeatedly challenged over his seeming inability to make a dent in the gunplay — including on Lehrer’s show the week before by a mother caught in the crossfire just south of Prospect Park.

“I’ve thought about this and I want to know, what’s being done? What’s being done?” she asked de Blasio on April 9.

Hizzoner responded with nearly an identical answer, including referencing the increase in gun seizures and the new efforts to boost community groups.

Ditto, when veteran 1010 WINS radio reporter Juliet Papa asked about his seemingly blasé response after a five year-old was shot in Brooklyn and a tourist got caught in the crossfire during a fight between two men just north of Penn Station.

Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio attends the opening of a vaccination center for Broadway workers in Times Square on April 12, 2021
Mayor Bill de Blasio attends the opening of a vaccination center for Broadway workers in Times Square on April 12, 2021.
Getty Images

“I don’t hear you talking about this,” Papa told de Blasio at an April 7 press conference, as she recounted several recent deadly attacks. “Why aren’t you going to these neighborhoods to be supportive and to say this won’t be tolerated?”

De Blasio declined to explain why he hasn’t taken a more hands-on approach and instead offered a nearly identical answer — citing the gun busts, the community groups and repaired community-police relationships.

“We’ve been talking about these investments and these changes for months now and we’re doing it,” he said, acknowledging that his answer to unstemmed shootings remains unchanged. “So, I think people see these actions and they know that continue to help is coming.”

Pressed during a subway ride Tuesday when that help would arrive — when the strategy would finally bend the shooting stats, de Blasio replied: “I think it’ll happen over the next few months.”

“Everything’s interconnected, bringing back the city, bringing back the jobs, bringing back the schools, all of that is going to help. The PD is out there in force,” he concluded. “I think you’re going to see a change soon.”

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