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Job One: Rein in shootings
Welcome to the summer of our discontent. City crime rates are hitting record lows. Murders have fallen almost 12 percent for the year. Robberies have tumbled more than 12 percent.
Yet shootings have jumped 13 percent -- not counting the 23 people struck by gunfire last weekend.
The rapid-fire criticism has started.
Is Mayor Bill de Blasio taking this criminal microburst seriously enough? Should he and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton fundamentally rethink their policing strategy? Or are we simply seeing a passing squall of unwelcome numbers that'll quickly vanish? Nobody knows.
But Bratton told The Wall Street Journal this week that a majority of recent shootings have taken place in areas that have been hot spots for decades -- central Bronx, eastern Brooklyn and northern Manhattan.
He said some of the violence was coming from gang members who were sent to prison in a 2012 crackdown and recently released. Those are important details.
If correct, they suggest the NYPD might be able to tamp down violence by focusing on the city's most troubled areas first -- building trust among law-abiding residents and finding ways to keep the criminals off the streets.
De Blasio told reporters this week that the NYPD's goal is to move quickly and nimbly when new crime trends emerge -- always staying a step ahead of the game and always prepared to adjust police strategy on the fly.
That makes sense.
While many fear a return to crime-ridden decades past, another possibility also exists. It could just be that public safety in the city is entering a new phase -- where crime rates stay low but anomalies pop up.
Nobody has a lock on what the future will look like.
But no mayor can win by waging yesterday's crime war. Strong intelligence-gathering, state-of-the-art detective work and steady foot patrols will always be in style. But the NYPD also must be poised to spot dangerous trends, move with agility and restore public safety -- while rallying communities to their side. Job one is to rein in shootings.