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Transcript: Mayor Eric Adams Thanks NYPD Neighborhood Safety Teams and Makes Announcement

March 21, 2022

Mayor Eric Adams: Hearing the complaints of what we were doing wrong in the opinion of many of us. And so chief, I thank you for your vision and understanding how we can get this right. And we have to get it right. And when you are doing something that's transformative as this, there are going to be those who are going to look at the pains that they felt in the past, and they're going to be reluctant to move forward. But we're not. We're not going to be reluctant. We're not going to be fearful of getting it right, because we must. The number of gunshots we're seeing, the number of innocent people being shot, really the failure of stopping the flow of guns in our city. As I was in Chicago last week, they removed 12,000 guns off the street of Chicago, and just a steady flow in. Partnered with our federal lawmakers meeting down in New Orleans with the mayor in Baton Rouge, talking about this. Being in Washington, DC, with the Mayor of Washington, as we saw innocent people shot because they're homeless. This is a real fight and it's not a philosophical one. We are placing these offices in harm's way to do a difficult job. And far too often, we ask them to do the job and we send mixed messages.

Mayor Adams: It's not going to be a mixed message under this administration. It's a clear message. Do it right. Don't violate the liberties of people, but go after those guns and those who are the trigger pullers and dangerous in our city. And that's what the commissioner and I—we have made it clear. You don't have to wonder what our position is. It is public safety and justice. You don't have to tradeoff between the two. And so I want to thank the commanding officer, Captain Moyer, for doing an amazing job and here in his command. And this is the type of young Captains we need that bring the right energy. Because trust me, it was not far too long ago that I bet you if you talked to Moyer, he could tell you about some of the unfortunate experiences he had. So bringing those experiences in now, coming here and running a command is going to say, "This is how we get it right, and this is why we're going to continue to recruit from within our city."

Mayor Adams: This great team here from this PSA, PSA 7, just days on the street, they have zeroed in on the issues of guns here in the Bronx. And the councilman and I talk about it over and over again, the number of guns, the illegal guns that are on the street in the city. And then to add to the problem are ghost guns. It's a real problem. Now someone can sit in their apartment and manufacture a gun that can be used on our streets. Every day, criminals are thinking of different ways to harm innocent New Yorkers. And we better be as thoughtful, creative, and use every methods legally to respond to the threat that's on us.

Mayor Adams: And so the key arrests that we wanted to point out and highlight on Friday, March 18th, this team responded to a 911 call of a woman shot on East 143rd Street. The PSA 7 NST officers identified the suspect and took appropriate action. And they were able to remove a 38 revolver defaced gun, defaced gun off the street by placing the individual under arrest. And on Saturday, March 12th, the individual was in possession of a loaded firearm. He was identified in part because of an intelligence alert from the PSA field intelligence team. We talk about this all the time, the role of social media. People are openly showing guns on social media, going after and threatening other people. Social media responsibility cannot continue to be ignored in this. This is what the Chicago Mayor Lightfoot has stated. Also what the Baton Rouge Mayor stated. Also with the mayor of Washington, DC. We are all seeing the same pattern across our entire country. So the field intelligence team was able to put out the information. We were able to apprehend the individual with a loaded firearm.

Mayor Adams: And so in six days, since we launched this program and at the police commissioner's leadership, we have made 31 arrests and 10 guns removed from our streets, six days. More than a gun a day was removed from our streets. And this is what precision policing is about. The failures of the past is we stopped anyone, searched anyone based on their ethnicity and based on the demographics or the zip code and where they may have lived. We're not doing that. We are not going to allow that to happen in our city. We're not going to break the law to enforce the law. We can have the balance that we are looking for by using precision policing.

Mayor Adams: We're going to stop the river of violence that is feeding the sea of violence. And this team is damning one of those rivers with their activity. And we're going to expand these teams to five other precincts to protect our streets and our community. We're going to grow and continue to evaluate, determine that we're making the right fit to have the right officers that are performing this dangerous assignment, but have the right mindset to do so. These new teams will be at Manhattan's 25th and 28th precinct, Brooklyn's 69th precinct, Queen’s 114th precinct, and Staten Island's 120th precinct. Not going to surrender our city to violence. It's not going to happen. And we're not going to be distracted. We're not going to allow all the naysayers that don't believe we can do our job correctly and legally to get in the way of keeping people safe.

Mayor Adams: We're going to put violent people away, we're going to remove the guns off our street, and I say this over and over again, this team of officers, the commissioner and I, we need help. We need help. We need help from Washington, we need help on the state level, we need help. But with or without that help, we're going to make our city a safe city. We're going to do our job. This is the commitment and promise I gave to New Yorkers when I was a candidate and this is what I'm going to live up to as the mayor of the city. Commissioner?

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, Police Department: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Good afternoon. We can talk about the great work that's being done here, but we certainly have more work to do and we know it. That is why we are rolling out more of these teams to be able to stem violence and gun possession in this city.

Commissioner Sewell: Thank you for being here today. We told the people of New York that their police department, every one of us who serves them, would never stop fighting for their public safety and their quality of life and we meant it. We said in one way or another, we would approach this by rolling out our highly trained Neighborhood Safety Teams with high training, high visibility, and a commitment to face the dangers that this city presents to them, to combine focused, intelligence-based policing with thorough and clear community engagement as the mayor stated. We need our communities to assist us. We need them to tell us where the problems are and how we can better serve them. We need that engagement in the areas that need us the most.

Commissioner Sewell: Today I am proud to announce that in just the first days of their existence the neighborhood safety team members have affected 31 arrests as the mayor stated, including 10 for gun possession in nine separate incidents. Vitally important is that 10 more illegal firearms have been taken off the streets of this city that will never be used to victimize another New Yorker.

Commissioner Sewell: Let me be clear. Our courageous and dedicated NYPD officers are doing exactly what we ask them to do. Right out of the gate they're relentlessly confront, excuse me, they are relentlessly confronting crime and disorder with laser-like precision. They're going after and finding the relatively small number of criminals in our city who are responsible for the vast amount of violence in this city. What we're talking about today is the result of NST officers with that focused mission working in 25 different commands across the city.

Commissioner Sewell: In addition to the illegal guns, the other arrests were for drug sale or possession, forgery, suspended or revoked driver's licenses, reckless endangerment, felony assault, criminal possession of a knife, and criminal trespass. Going deeper, of the 31 total arrests made in the last six days by the women and men of our Neighborhood Safety Teams, 61 percent of those arrested had been previously arrested, most for a major felony. 39 percent have a history of narcotics related arrests. 26 percent have a link to gang or crews, and 23 percent or more are on parole or probation. This is how the NYPD is reducing and working to eradicate gun violence across the city. These impressive results represent the next era of responsive, responsible crime fighting, built and strengthened by the neighborhood specific concerns of the people who live and work here.

Commissioner Sewell: Again, we need the community to assist us in our efforts. Together, we are identifying and pursuing the true drivers of crime in our city. Those relatively few who are responsible for the most violence, and reinforcing our efforts to get them off our streets, building strong cases for prosecution and holding them accountable for their actions. We will never stop fighting for New Yorkers. We will never stop looking for effective ways to do so. I am exceedingly proud of our incredible officers who are out here facing danger every day and leading the way. Mr. Mayor, would you like to take some questions?

Mayor Adams: Yes, yes. But first I want to hear from our partner in government. Amazing councilman, really appreciate you. Councilman, why don't you say a few words?


Question: [inaudible] and they're saying they have concerns that the culture and the history of some of the similar units, anti-crime plain clothed units, street crime units in the nineties, and some of the allegations, some of the excessive force incidents that we've seen, some of the deaths that we've seen, and they want to know how are we sure that won't see that this time around? And talk a little bit about the training, because they're saying it's more than just training, more so about the culture, if you will.

Mayor Adams: Yes. And you know, this is my Warner Wolf moment, let's go to the videotape. The Legal Aid was a partner with me when we talked about the over-abusiveness in law enforcement. Legal Aid saw me testify in Floyd versus New York City Police Department and the judge mentioned my testimony in her ruling. Legal Aid is well aware of the advocacy of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. I was an outsider insider fighting to reform the city. Now I'm the mayor. This is my police department. So why would I spend 30 something years fighting for proper policing and then allow it to erode away? All I ask of the Legal Aid is to come join us, sit inside, analyze the video when we do our arrests, be a part of this evolution, because they have a role also. They have a role to make sure we have proper policing and they have the role to stop the violence in our city.

Mayor Adams: The same level of thoughtfulness that they're having to make sure these guys do it right, let's make sure we get it right to stop this violence in our city. We've done it right, we have the training right, we did a recruitment correctly, we interviewed, we vetted. There were those who wanted to be part of this unit, they said, "Nope, you don't bring the qualifications that we believe for this specialized unit." We did everything that was needed to learn from the past to produce the product we needed that I committed to based on my life work and based on what I believe we need to do to keep our city safe.

Question: This is a question for the mayor and the police commissioner. The statistics, the 31 arrests, the 10 guns in six days, what specifically did these teams do to affect these numbers that wouldn't have been done two weeks prior and is it fair to say that these arrests may not have been made if these teams didn't exist?

Mayor Adams: I don't know that and I don't want to go in the area of hypotheticals, but what these officers are doing, they are zeroing in on the dangerous crews and gangs in the city, they're using their experience and knowledge, they are teaming up with our intelligence unit, such as if you see someone waving a gun on Facebook, now you are focusing on that. They are responding, the captain is telling them what areas—they are known areas with shootings are taking place, so they are specializing in understanding how to go and remove guns off our street. That's different from other officers carrying out… They focus on that, but they’re carrying out so many other calls of service.

Question: I'm just wondering if there's a specific example, like the Friday, March 18th, woman shot, or the March 12th example, if there's something in that specific moment where it's like, "This is what this team did differently."

Mayor Adams: Well, anytime you get a call of the shooting, officers are going to respond. These officers reviewing information and documents of who the gang members are, who the known trigger pull is. There's a small number of people committing these crimes. We keep saying this over and over again. It is not resonating with people. This is not Ms. Jones and pastor so and so. There's a small number of people. The more knowledge these officers have of their community and their precinct, they're able to zero in, when they hear that all of shots fired, when that information comes over from our intelligence unit. So, it's just a combination of knowledge of the precinct that they are in and how to zero in on those known shooters and gang bangers.

Question: I wanted to ask a double question. First, you mentioned 31 arrests, I'm wondering out of a pool of how many stops conducted over that six day period? And then I notice that there's no one here from either the CCRB or the monitor's office, so I'm wondering what the oversight portion of this looks like to make sure that these stops are properly documented.

Mayor Adams: [inaudible] You have to start changing the mindset on the streets. You have to start understanding that what we were doing in the past is not what is going to happen now. And that is what we're doing. And in spite of what these men and women are doing, they're those that feel they shouldn't be doing it. We have to ignore all that noise and keep our city safe to the everyday citizen that believes they should be able to ride the subway, go to school, enjoy their parks, enjoy their community. That is who we are speaking on behalf of. And yes, we're moving in the right direction because we're putting the right systems in place to make our city a safe city.

Question: How long do you think [inaudible]?

Mayor Adams: We're hoping we could do it tomorrow. But you know what? It's going to take the right execution of this amazing plan that we continue to do. And it's many layers, this is one layer. Dyslexia screening is another layer. Our employment of 100,000 people, summer youth employment is another layer. Our paid internship is another layer. People don't acknowledge the holistic approach that we are doing to stop crime. They want to focus on one aspect of it, but by the time these guys take actions, we already failed. We already failed.

Question: Hi. Mayor, is there any plan to [inaudible] a few things. Is there any plan to talk with Biden about this? This list of things that all these mayors need that you've been speaking with? And also [inaudible]. He's getting backlash from both sides. What do you make of that [inaudible] change the program at all?

Mayor Adams: Well, number one, I'm going to travel across the country and do Zooms with all my mayors across the country. We're going to share best practices. We're going to show what we're doing here. We're all in this together. We're going to move and be creative and sharing, see if it's possible for us to share gun tracking data. We're not going to leave any stones unturned. And our goal is to help each other get out of this real sea of violence that we are experiencing.

Mayor Adams: And Albany, I gave my blueprint to Albany. I don't control Albany. I'm happy to see the governor has embraced some of the things that I raised in the blueprint, and I'm hoping that they look and see that we are coming from a good place of public safety and justice, but they have to make the determination. I have to deal with things that are within my span of control.

Question: So, on the units, the 25th precinct was supposed to be part of the first phase of the rollout. [Inaudible] memos last week. Why was that moved to phase two? And then also that [inaudible] question? Have you been communicating with either [inaudible] or Andrea Stewart? Cause those are the two individuals that seem to be the obstacles with getting [inaudible] and your plan, one of the major [inaudible], of this rivers of violence, etcetera, or extending rivers, rather. What happens if that doesn't get done? How does that impede you from keeping the city safe?

Mayor Adams: Okay. You asked two questions. I'm going to do two questions in one. You have a lot of swagger with your Pumas on. I think that's real cool.

Mayor Adams: So, we want to get it right. The commissioner was clear. We were not going to go on this imaginary timetable. People were saying, "Well, why you to do it this day? This day, that day..." Commissioner was clear. We're not doing it until we get it right. Because the worst thing we could do is try to rush something of this sensitivity and not get it right. She was very clear. Had to pass her test that they were the right officers, the right precincts and we are going to execute this correctly. And that is what she did. And I really want to commend her. Even when I called her and say, "What's going on?" She's like, "Eric, has to be done right. You picked me as the police commissioner, I'm going to do it right."

Mayor Adams: And she shut me down several times when I said, "Marsha, keep harassing me that I don't have it out already." She said, "I got to get it right." Commended her, she got it right and she's going to execute it with her comfort. I speak to the leaders and I don't go over private conversations. I'm just hoping they take into account what's in my blueprint. That's the best I can say on that.

Question: Mr. Mayor, Deputy Commissioner Miller testified to the city council last week saying essentially that there was no [inaudible] on the Muslim community after 911. That's in a lot of disputes. There's been a lot of criticism. I'm wondering, do you agree with what he said and do you believe that there was any improprieties that took place then?

Mayor Adams: Listen, I was, again... We have to go back to the videotape. I was a leading voice. I filed an amicus brief in court with the lawsuits. I felt there were inappropriate actions taking place in the city under previous administrations. I showed my voice towards that. I stood next to the Muslim community. I stood in front of the federal penitentiary on Third Avenue. I talked about what happened in New Jersey. If you go back and pull the comments, I was clear. I thought what we did was wrong. And I think that it was smart to disband the demographics unit. I thought it was smart to bring in an independent ex-federal judge to monitor what was happening. I thought it was smart what we did around hand shoe. I thought we did some things that were wrong and they will never happen under my administration.

Question: So, given that position, do you think it was appropriate for the deputy commissioner under your administration to say there's nothing long-term?

Mayor Adams: It is up to the mayor to set the tone. I set it, the tone, not only now saying it was wrong. I said it then when it was happening. And we're not going to do the things we did then. It won't happen under this administration.

Question: [Inaudible] I wanted to ask if you saw Congressman Ritchie Torres [inaudible] about how he thinks the state needs to embrace crypto. [Inaudible] and I wanted to ask you about some of the ideas that you have, which was the cyber wallet for municipal workers, starting an education curriculum in New York City public schools. I know you just came back from that conference in Miami. I was wondering if you could talk about what did you get from that conference? And where do you think we'll be a year from now on some of these ideas that you put out?

Mayor Adams: So, what we would do would, set up a time with Max. And we'll sit down and do a deep dive conversation on where I am on all of those topics. So, we won't do it in just a sound bite. But I look forward to sitting down with you and giving you my overall view on how do we use Blockchain, crypto, etcetera. I'll make sure Max reaches out to you, and we can sit down and have a conversation.

Question: There's some large groups of Asian American New Yorkers, Pacific Islanders, New Yorkers, standing on these long lines, waiting to pick up pepper spray. Will you speak to the fear that's rampant in this community and perceived threat to Asian American New Yorkers?

Mayor Adams: Yes. Not only speak to it, we go back to 2001. I stood with Asian American family members when a young delivery person was attacked and robbed. I was there with them throughout my entire time. As borough president of—the Asian American AAPI community will tell you clearly where I stand when it comes down to the violence that we are experiencing. When I sat down with the members in the community, they were very concerned on how we were designating these crimes as hate crimes. We took immediate actions. I had new leadership over at the hate crime unit to send the right message. We're not going to try to cover this up.

Mayor Adams: Number two, strong believer, no plea bargaining should be given to someone that commits a hate crime in this city. We need to stop negotiating these cases out. You saw the reports, many of them are not charged overall with the hate crime as they take place. We need to beef up our hate crime unit to have those undercover officers in the community so we can zero in on those who are committing these crimes. And many of them are dealing with mental health issues, that we have to make sure that we be more proactive. That is why we're putting in place our transit initiative to be proactive and not allow people to linger in our subway system. We have witnessed many of these attacks have taken place. And so, I think it's a combination of even education.

Mayor Adams: You know, we're in a divided city. And we have to start educating our children on the beauty of the diversity of our city, and be creative like my Breaking Bread, Building Bonds, where we had a hundred dinners, 10 people at these dinners from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We have to start talking about our diversity. So, there's a multitude of things that we have to do. And I have been in partnership with the AAPI community for years on dealing with this issue, because this has been highlighted now. But a lot of this violence has been here for a long time, and that's been ignored.

Question: What about the fact that they're so desperate, and that they have to go defend themselves, arm themselves with pepper spray and other methods?

Mayor Adams: It's an indictment on our city. It's an indictment on our country. It is an indictment that is leading to people feeling unsafe. You know, I was at an event yesterday talking to my Jewish community. The level of anti-Semitism increased. That's an indictment, and that is, that leads to the erosion that we have witnessed in this city. And that is part of the overall approach to making this city not to be a city where people have to stand on line to get mace. That's an indictment on our city.

Question: Thanks, Mr. Mayor, for taking my question. I wanted to ask you about somebody we've written about before, Eileen Hernandez. She lived in a room. Her landlady died. There'd been all kinds of issues in this home, rodents, electricity, [inaudible] wire, etcetera. She couldn't [inaudible] HRA did an initial inspection. I think it's kind of like a virtual inspection. And due to what she and the realtor believe is some sort of glitch with the inspection. She's been denied entry into this new apartment that she qualified for. And from what we've learned, this is... These sorts of inspections, these virtual inspections that predominated with COVID. So, there's no win for an inspection.

Mayor Adams: Well, first of all, I'm troubled to hear that. And we can be so bureaucratic that we're not solving the problems. And can I dig into that more with you, to learn about what happened in this case? Let's use this case as a case study. Because I don't want my city employees in the luxury of their homes, and preventing someone from getting their homes. So, I need to dig into that and use this as a case study of exactly what happened here that we could not get her inside her home. So, if you give me a day to let me just dig into it, and I'll circle back to you, okay?

Question: Do you think that the jumping should be just, be criminalized? You were talking about that.

Mayor Adams: Now, you say decriminalized? That's a crime.

Question: Should be criminalized. Sorry, yeah.

Mayor Adams: That's a crime.

Question: Most of the prosecutors aren't prosecuting them.

Mayor Adams: Yeah, they need to. It's a crime. It's a crime. If we start saying it's all right for you to jump the turnstile, we are creating a requirement to stop this [inaudible]. It's a crime. Now, you could defer prosecution and put people in programs. You could do all sorts of things. But let's not ignore it. And that's what happened in [inaudible].


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