Just 37 days into 2022, New York City has seen seven cops shot — two fatally — in a series of on- and off-duty incidents that police union leaders say has left New York’s Finest with low morale throughout the ranks.
On Saturday, an off-duty housing cop was shot in the foot when two people exchanged gunfire, marking the seventh case of an NYPD member wounded or killed by bullets. There have been four police officers shot on duty and three off the job so far this year, according to the police press office.
“We’re relieved that our brother will be OK, but we can’t let this become normal,” said Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch in a statement. “We can’t wait for the long-term solutions to start working. We need to get the shooters off the street and keep them off the street.”
The incident came just days after another off-duty officer was took a bullet to the shoulder during an alleged robbery attempt in the Rockaways on Feb. 2.
Last month, two young officers, Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora of the 32nd Precinct, died after a man opened fire on them during a domestic violence investigation in Harlem.
“The morale is very low and it’s a difficult time when your coworkers are getting shot and then killed and executed,” said Paul DiGiacomo, who heads the Detectives’ Endowment Association.
The trend comes against the backdrop in a rise in gun violence across the board since the beginning of the pandemic.
The most recent NYPD statistics through the end of January show an uptick in shootings to 94 incidents, up 32.4% from the same time last year when there were 71, and up from January 2020 when there were 66.
The current number is the highest in 14 years, or since 2008, when there were 96 shootings during the first month of the year — but still just a fraction of the 459 shootings in the first month of 1993.
“It’s New York City detectives that are out there investigating all of these shootings and homicides taking place throughout the city, whether it be a police officer or a civilian. It’s detectives that investigate those crimes and they’re doing an amazing job in a very difficult time in our city,” said DiGiacomo.
The Saturday incident followed a visit by President Joe Biden to NYPD headquarters Thursday, where the Commander-in-Chief vowed more federal funding toward policing as well as an effort by the Department of Justice to crack down on firearms coming to New York from other states with more lax gun laws.
Mayor Eric Adams late last month released his blueprint to combat the rising gun violence, which includes bringing back a controversial anti-gun unit, and Hizzoner has repeatedly pushed for state lawmakers in Albany to change criminal justice reforms.
The mayor wants judges to be allowed to consider “dangerousness” of defendants when determining whether to lock them up pre-trail, and wants to be able to try 16- and 17-year-olds found with guns in criminal court rather than family court.
Adams told CNN in an interview that the laws needed to be “tweaked” because of the “tone” they had set in the Five Boroughs.
“You’re watching the erosion of American cities, because there’s a mindset in our cities that any and everything goes, there’s no form of order,” Adams told Anderson Cooper on Feb. 3. “This is unacceptable and too many young people believe it is permissible and all right to carry a firearm because that’s the tone we have set and we have to stop that tone.”
.@NYCMayor: "You are watching the erosion of American cities because there's a mindset in our cities that any and everything goes. There's no form of order. This is unacceptable." https://t.co/1st69TWPWm pic.twitter.com/TPmhuQg1WD
— The Hill (@thehill) February 4, 2022
The statement echoed police union leaders’ sentiments, who blamed the bail law changes for the spike in some violent crime over the past two years.
“It sent a message loud and clear to the criminal element that they’re emboldened and they can do what they want, when they want, how they want with no consequences,” DiGiacomo said.
But proponents of the law have pointed out that the trends have occurred in cities across the nation, including in places without changes to their bail system.
“Bail reform is not responsible for the real and worrisome rise in shootings and homicides in New York, including shootings of police officers. The uptick in gun violence over the past two years is a national trend, impacting many cities that have not passed any criminal justice reform,” said Jullian Harris-Calvin, the director of the Greater Justice New York program at the criminal justice advocacy group the Vera Institute of Justice, in an email.
New York State’s sweeping reforms got rid of cash bail and pretrial detention in almost all misdemeanor and nonviolent felony cases, but preserved it for nearly all violent felonies, including gun possession, shootings, and murder.
State data released last month showed that only 2% of bail cases led to a rearrest for a violent felony, and less than half a percent involved a felony with a firearm.