The 47th Precinct in the Bronx has recorded eight homicides so far this year. That’s an increase of 700 percent compared with this time last year. The sound of gunfire in the vicinity of Gun Hill Road has become depressingly, and dangerously, familiar.
The post-stop-and-frisk era may be upon us. Never let it be said that we weren’t warned.
The spike in homicides in a corner of the Bronx has promoted City Council members to demand action against gun violence. If only the council made the connection between aggressive policing and low body counts.
The Bloomberg-Kelly era of stop-and-frisk kept guns off the street. It’s that simple. Critics charged that stop-and-frisk did not, in fact, lead to a significant number of arrests for gun possession. But as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg used to point out, that’s precisely the point. Thugs were less likely to carry around their favorite handgun if they thought there was a chance they’d be stopped and frisked. The results were obvious, except, perhaps, to cop-hating jurists and demagogues in elected office.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has acknowledged that several sections of the city—not just the northeast Bronx—have seen increases in gun violence in recent months. To his credit, the commissioner has been on the ground in the 47th Precinct to observe for himself the mounting body count.
The question, however, is whether Mr. Bratton and his boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, will rethink their strategies in time to prevent further increases in gun violence.
Mr. de Blasio has given little indication that he is concerned about the uptick in violence. He is opposed to the council’s proposal to hire 1,000 more police officers, even though there are 6,000 fewer police on the job compared with 2001. The commissioner, following the party line, also seems content with current head count. He contends that any gaps in manpower can be made up in overtime. Does that make you feel safer?
As for the council, its concern for public safety is welcome if belated. Many members campaigned last year as opponents of the Bloomberg-Kelly years, painting the two men as borderline racists for their support of stop-and-frisk.
Demagoguery won the day. The city’s top elected officials have lived up to their promise to end stop-and frisk-and, more broadly, push back against aggressive policing in neighborhoods that once resembled war zones.
Now the bodies are beginning to accumulate, and people in the 47th Precinct and elsewhere are asking for help in the battle against thugs with guns. And summer is just around the corner.
Will help arrive in time?