Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the recent surge in gun violence in New York City and the state as an ‘urgent crisis’ that he blamed squarely on police departments because they have done ‘very little’ to come up with reform plans.
He also threatened to pull funding from up to 500 departments across the state if they do not have plans in place by April 2021.
Cuomo raised the growing lawlessness during his Monday press conference where he revealed in New York City murders are up 29 per cent, while shootings are up 79 per cent year to date.
He then broke down the percentage increases of shootings within each borough as compared to previous year data, noting that shootings are up 60 per cent in The Bronx, 102 per cent in Brooklyn, 54 per cent in Manhattan, 75 per cent in Queens and 108 per cent in Staten Island.
The NYPD, on Monday, released its own shooting violence figures – which were higher than Cuomo’s numbers – stating that year to date, shootings are up 82.1 per cent and murders are up 30.2 per cent.
‘You cannot dismiss these numbers,’ Cuomo said Monday during a press conference. ‘You cannot look at this reality and say it doesn’t exist, because the reality is so clear.’
Cuomo said that in NYC, data showed that more than 90 per cent of the victims ‘are black and brown.’
‘You want to talk about social justice? You want to talk about civil rights? You want to talk about social equity? How do you explain that?’ Cuomo said, of the substantial uptick in shootings with minority victims.
‘It’s not just New York City. It’s all across the nation,’ Cuomo added.
Shootings have risen in states and major cities all across America in recent months, with New York City and Chicago often reporting notably higher levels of gun violence incidents.
The increase in shootings have coincided with the easing up of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, large-scale protests against police brutality, continued mass unemployment and the natural, annual increase in violence during summer months.
Cuomo noted that NYC wasn’t alone in having an increase in shootings, however – upstate New York has also seen a 70 per cent increase in the year to date.
In Albany, shooting violence was up 240 per cent, in Buffalo it was up 66 per cent, in Rochester it was 54 per cent and in Syracuse it was up 130 per cent, Cuomo said.
As part of the effort to get the number of shootings down, Cuomo said that he was sending a letter to 500 police department jurisdictions, ‘explaining that it is imperative that we address this urgent crisis’ involving the tension between police and local communities.
Like coronavirus which was hard to deal with, he said, this ‘also a matter of life and death.’
Cuomo said that although he had made an executive order on June 12, insisting that the individual police jurisdictions adopt a reform plan by April 1, 2021, ‘very little had been done’ so far – hence the letter.
‘We have an issue and we have to address the issue,’ Cuomo said, also noting that ‘denial is not a successful life strategy, not in government, not in your personal life.’
He said that New York State ‘does not run from a crisis, it’s not what we do. It’s not who we are. We’re not going to deny that this is a crisis.
‘What do we do in a crisis? Leaders lead and leaders act. This is a time for leadership and action. Acknowledge the tensions. They’re real,’ he said, noting that there are real issues on both sides of the table, between police and community members.
Cuomo said that it was necessary to get both sides to the table to create police departments that can actually carry out a public safety function ‘because divorce is not an option.’
‘The relationship is based on trust and respect and the relationship is ruptured,’ Cuomo said of police and community members.
‘But divorce is not an option here. Divorce is not an option. You can’t say, ‘We don’t need any police. End the police department.’ Oh really? And then what happens at 2 o’clock in the morning when someone is coming through the window and you hear the glass break?’ Cuomo asked.
‘So divorce is not an option. You have to resolve the tensions and reconcile.’
Cuomo said that his letter to each of the police jurisdictions decreed that if they didn’t come up with a ‘re-imagined police department’ by the April deadline, the state would not be providing future funding to them.
‘I’m trying to force attention and focus and action on this issue,’ Cuomo said. ‘People are getting shot everyday, it’s getting worse, not better. We have to act.’