Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Illegal guns cited in rise of shootings and murders

Crime in NYC Taking A Turn For The Worse

"The flood of illegal handguns on the city's streets is taking a disturbing toll: The number of murders and shootings have risen significantly this year.

The latest crime statistics reveal that 190 people have been killed this year, compared with 172 during the same period last year — a 10.4% increase.

The number of shootings is also up, with 499 documented incidents, compared with 444 during the same period last year — a 12.3% jump.

The latest stats track the bloodshed through Sunday — and don't include one of the bloodiest 24 hours in recent memory when 10 people were shot from Monday night into yesterday in Harlem. Seven of the victims were teens.

"The shootings in Harlem are evidence of the apparent ease with which teens are able to acquire illegal guns and to use them without regard to consequences," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday.

The NYPD closed out last year with 496 homicides, the fewest number of murders since reliable records were first kept more than 40 years ago. Overall crime also fell last year by 6%.

This year, overall crime is down 2.7% through Sunday, but several major categories of violent crime — murder, rape, robberies and shootings — are up.

Gun arrests also are down 10.7% compared with the corresponding period last year.

"Although New York remains the safest big city in America, I know that's a small solace to anyone who has personally been affected by a serious crime," Mayor Bloomberg said.

Police historian Thomas Reppetto said the NYPD needs more cops patrolling the streets if it's going to continue to push down crime to record levels.

The police force has shrunk 12% since its peak head count of 40,800 in fiscal year 2001. Budget cuts will drop the official head count to 36,838 officers, but right now there are roughly 35,000 cops on the payroll as the NYPD struggles to fill openings.

"You can't do what you used to do with 40,000 with 35,000 [cops]," Reppetto said yesterday. "Other major cities are seeing an increase in murders. We don't want that taking root here."

Kelly has said the department's low starting pay — raised just last week from $25,100 to $35,881 — has undercut recruitment.

Rank-and-file cops said they have noticed the reduction in manpower. It had been common for precincts to send out four to six patrol cars a night, said a police source. But "now some precincts are lucky if they can send out two sector cars a night," the source said.

"People are pulled for counterterrorism jobs, special details like the Pope. When you don't have enough people to begin with, that just means fewer eyes on the street keeping a small beef from blowing up."

Police officials said as many as three gunman were responsible for shooting the six teens at a holiday barbecue and basketball game at Marcus Garvey Park on Memorial Day. Cops arrested a 15-year-old boy and charged him with possessing an illegal gun. It was not immediately clear if he was one of the shooters.

"You know things are getting hard if you say, ‘Thank God, my child was only wounded,' " said Harlem resident Stacey Briggs, who ducked for cover when shots rang out."

Now, I could be wrong but having been born and raised in our biggest city at least my perspective is first hand. Believe it or not, lots and lots of people have the very same access to illegal guns, you can even look it up. So when among 8 million folks the same ones keep using guns to hurt innocent people it sort of strikes me odd that the city hasn't gotten a handle on the whys and wherefores of such crime. Oh heck, but of course they know. And the reason they don't want you or I to own guns, is for fear these people will come steal them.

We ALL know whats wrong. Damned few politicians and heads of law enforcement will do anything about it except to burden the innocent.

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