‘This is craziness and we need help’: Shea seeks legal changes to stop NYC gun violence

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea
Photo by Dean Moses

Hours after another dozen New Yorkers were wounded in the latest rash of gun violence, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea repeated his previous appeals for legal changes that would help the NYPD lock up armed criminals and take firearms off the streets.

In an interview on NY1’s “Mornings on 1,” Shea said that police are working “hand in hand” with each other and members of the community in stopping gun violence and the flow of illegal weapons into the city. 

“But we have a long road ahead of us,” Shea said. “Unfortunately, [there were] nine shootings yesterday. There are far too many guns on the street, and far too many people that use guns that are on the street.” 

Part of the problem, the commissioner indicated, has been the quick release of individuals through the court system — an unintended consequence of recent changes to bail laws and other reforms. Shea has been a frequent critic of bail reform which, he claims, has turned the court system into a revolving door for repeat offenders of various crimes.

He cited, as one example, an arrest of an assailant over the weekend who shoved a woman down a flight of stairs at a Manhattan subway station. Within hours of his capture, Shea said, he was out of jail following arraignment.

“We have to do better. We’re arresting someone for pushing a woman down the stairs and we’re releasing them back into the streets? This is craziness and we need help,” Shea said. “What are we doing in society when we’re releasing these people right back onto the street?”

While a great many shootings have been tied to gang activity, the commissioner noted that the rising number of gun violence incidents is also leading to more innocent individuals being caught in the crossfire.

“You have individuals shooting at other individuals who are known [to the department], that’s predominantly what we see,” Shea said. “But as the tide rises, you start to see more and more innocent people getting shot, too.”

The commissioner noted that any reported shooting in the city, including just an incident of gunfire in which no one is injured, has a profoundly negative impact for residents living on the block where it happens.

“I don’t think a lot people get that — that just having that incident of gun fire whether anyone is hit or not really traumatizes the whole block,” Shea said. “Then you start to think, ‘I don’t want to send my kids out to the store or to play in front of the house.’ This is something that affects all of us and that’s why we’re committed to stopping it.”

Watch the full interview below on the NYPD’s Twitter page.

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