New York City

NYC announces new initiatives to fight stabbings, slashings

Shootings down 14 percent, but knife attacks up 22 percent this year

March 23, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NYC Police Commissioner William Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday unveiled new initiatives to track and combat slashings and stabbings. Shown: De Blasio and Bratton address security at a separate news conference on Tuesday following the Brussels bombings. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

With stabbings and slashings up 22 percent in the city so far this year, New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday unveiled new initiatives to track and combat the crimes.

Until recently, stabbing and slashing incidents have not been separately tracked on CompStat, Bratton told reporters. These crimes have been tracked under the more general category of felonious assault.

The NYPD is rolling out a new policy, called Operation Cutting Edge, a multi-faceted approach to track and reduce these incidents.

The increase in cutting crimes comes even as shooting incidents have dropped roughly 14 percent and homicides have decreased by approximately 21 percent since Jan. 1.

Many shooting incidents can be traced to gang or narcotics activity, Bratton said. The majority of stabbings and slashings, however, are not gang related, he said, nor are they related to organized crime fighting over control of narcotics trafficking. Since there is no specific group of slashers, police are studying when and where the incidents take place.

“What we need to focus on is some of the other areas that haven’t gotten as much attention, and this important statistic – that 23 percent of stabbings and slashing crimes occur between 7 p.m. and 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights,” de Blasio said.

Earlier this month the city announced some initiatives related to the transit system, including increased patrols, coordination with street-level patrol resources and a new radio system. But only a small percent of stabbings and slashings take place in the subway system.

“Well, we had a lot of attention on the fact that there had been some crimes in the subway,” de Blasio told reporters. “But even at the high point the number of slashings and stabbings was low in terms of the city wide dynamic — 2.2 percent.”

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Bratton added, “Nonetheless, since perception sometimes becomes reality, we’ve taken measures to address the issue and to reassure the public.”

Further transit initiatives are being rolled out, he said, along with NYPD-assisted safety assessments of homeless shelters. Police estimate about 2 to 3 percent of the stabbings – which include a number of domestic violence incidents — occur in homeless shelters.

In the latest phase of the city’s approach, the city will focus on the stabbings that happen in the evening hours at nightclubs and illegal social clubs.

“So we’ll be increasing patrols in those areas, focusing on how to make sure legal nightclubs are doing all they should to help us keep their patrons safe and doing more to shut down illegal nightclubs and illegal social clubs,” de Blasio said.

He added that community members have been complaining about illegal social clubs, and that neighborhood coordination officers are already having “a very big impact” on finding and shutting them down because they’re getting a much greater flow of information from the public.

NYPD Chief James O’Neill said that the force is working to identify the most problematic clubs in the city.

“Beginning with our Patrol Services Bureau, officers are conducting more directed patrols at nightlife spots, it’s important to have that uniformed presence – specifically at the places where we identify as the most problematic – and our enforcement efforts will also be increasing. That means traffic stops, DWI checkpoints by highways, also we’re going to be utilizing the Strategic Response group in this effort,” he said.

Cops are also stepping up the enforcement of existing rules, including not allowing box cutters to be sold to people under the age of 21.

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