- Last Updated: 12:46 AM, July 9, 2012
- Posted: 12:46 AM, July 9, 2012
Every round of gunfire that echoes in the city’s streets these days is a grim reminder of what life was like here 30 years ago.
And every New Yorker has a different theory about how to handle the wave of violence that’s terrorizing the city anew, after decades of dropping crime.
“We need a lot more cops around the neighborhood,” says Fatima Gerez, a Brooklyn beauty-salon stylist. “There’s not enough.”
“There should be more programs for youth to get them off the street,” adds Eddy Quezada, 35, who fixes tires on Pitkin Avenue in East New York.
Unemployment. A rash of guns. Decreased stop-and-frisk tactics. Budget cuts. Gangs. Drugs. The scorching summer heat.
Everyone has the answer.
No one has the answer.
But on this they all agree: Somebody has to do something.
As of yesterday afternoon, a staggering 16 murders over five days were committed in New York City — including seven just over the weekend.
According to city officials, there have been 672 shootings this year as of July1, compared with 606 at the same day last year — a 10.9 percent spike.
The violence last week included attacks on two city police officers, one who was stabbed in the eye and another whose safety vest stopped a bullet from penetrating his heart when he was shot in a housing-project staircase on the Lower East Side.
The epidemic has politicians, precinct commanders and the public searching for answers.
“Most people believe crime has been increasing for some time,” said Peter Vallone Jr., chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee. “You have a very serious situation.”
Vallone said the problem stems from a number of sources, ranging from a surge in gangs to lenient judges.
But nothing has hurt New York’s safety more, Vallone said, than a reduced police force.
“Put more cops on the street,” Vallone said. “That’s the one thing we can control.”
Patrols on the street said that gang membership is up and that the new recruits are bolder than ever before. Cops say they can’t talk young people out of joining gangs because the thug groups offer better protection.
“We used to be able to scare them” from joining, said one cop on the street. “Now, we can’t do that anymore.”
Richard Aborn, president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, said no serious assault on violent crime can begin without serious gun-control measures.
“Illegal guns come into New York from states with very weak gun controls,” Aborn said. “We need uniform national standards. There’s only so much New York can do as long as we have porous borders.”
Not everybody is convinced that violent crime is increasing.
Brooklyn state Sen. Eric Adams, a former police captain, said the numbers aren’t clear on that yet.
But he agreed that even one shooting or slaying is too many.
“We need to take a close look at where our priorities are,” Adams said. “We cut all of these social services and wonder why we’re seeing violent responses to those issues. We need to come up with ways to prevent it, not just react to it.”
Some residents say the problem starts at home.
Business owner Mohammed Miah, 41, who was held up at gunpoint three years ago, said, “The boy’s stepfather told him to rob my store. He was only 15 or 16, and his own stepfather was telling him to commit a crime.”