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NYPD debuts Neighborhood Safety Teams aimed at getting guns off streets: "A new corner we are turning in policing and public safety"

Mayor Adams unveils NYPD anti-gun safety teams 02:41

NEW YORK -- Mayor Eric Adams and NYPD officials gave a closer look Wednesday inside the department's Neighborhood Safety Teams, which have been tasked with getting illegal guns off the streets.

The new program is aimed at targeting the neighborhoods across the city with the highest number of shootings. 

"I want to personally thank you officers for what you're doing," Adams told officers at the NYPD Training Academy in College Point, Queens. 

NYPD Chief of Training Juanita Holmes said their seven-day training covers scenario-based constitutional policing, courtroom testimony, investigative encounters, car stop workshops, tactical training and community relations.

"This is a dangerous assignment. You don't put your men and women on the frontline of a dangerous assignment without giving them the tools," the mayor said. 

Combatting gun violence has been a priority for Adams from the campaign trail to taking office in January.

"Who we are producing here is an elite group of men and women with specialized training and skillset to zero in on gun violence," he said Wednesday. "And to do something that is unique that the police commissioner clearly understood -- to have a real version of community involvement and engagement. That is a new corner we are turning in policing and public safety."  

NYPD shares update on training of Neighborhood Safety Teams 42:38

The mayor was asked how the city will measure the success of the new teams, and replied, "When we stop seeing the shootings in our city."

"It's not just about taking the guns off, but it's building confidence with the community organization and groups," he added. "We're going to use the metrics that the communities are comfortable with these men and women who are given this difficult assignment, and you see a substantial decrease in the gun violence, the shootings and the homicides in our city."

The NYPD says 490 officers will make up the teams, which are expected to work out of 30 precincts. 

Unlike the Anti-Crime Unit of the past, they will not be in plainclothes. They will be in uniform and wear body cameras, traveling in unmarked cars in some of the highest crime areas of the city.

"We are going to defeat gun violence, not only that's taking place in our city, but we're going to collaborate with our federal and state agencies to attack this problem across our country," Adams said.

NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said video from their cameras will be reviewed, even if force wasn't used. 

"I equate it to why the coach watches the game day film even when the team wins. We identify what we did really well, and we identify areas where we can do even better," he said. 

"We're going to look at the game day film over and over again. We're not going to wait for a crisis or tragedy to happen, or a mistake to happen," said Adams. "We're in a constant state of monitoring so that we can ensure we get he best product to keep our city safe, without the abuses that we witnessed in the past."

Bishop Gerald Seabrooks added community members he's spoken with in the 81st Precinct want an end to gun violence and welcome the new effort.

"Gun safety is an important endeavor for us. The African American and brown community are affected most by gun violence," he said. "We're only asking the our neighborhoods be patrolled by the mantra that is on the police department cars. That is, 'professionalism, respect and courtesy.'"

The launch of the revamped program comes as some neighborhoods, such as the Bronx, see a spike in gun violence. Just last night, two brothers were shot, one fatally, in Melrose. 

The NYPD says shooting victims are up more than 32% from this time last year in the Bronx, and more than 9% citywide.

"We've just reached a point in this city where the quality of life has eroded, and New Yorkers don't want that to happen," the mayor said. 

The first 100 officers from the program are undergoing a week of training at the academy, before being put out onto the streets. The remaining 400 will be launched in phases. 

The unit assigned to the 43rd Precinct made its first arrest just two hours after hitting the streets. It was a man with a ghost gun who had a long arrest record of gun crimes. 

Chief of Department Kenneth Corey says the gun was equipped with a laser sight and had eight bullets. It was carried by a 20-year-old member of the Bloods gang.

"In February of 2018, he was arrested for a gunpoint carjacking. In May of 2019, he stabbed his victim during a robbery. In March of 2021, he was arrested for a nonfatal shooting. In October, Halloween, 2021, he's arrested with a firearm while fleeing the scene of a nonfatal shooting," he said. "This is what we talk about when we talk about drivers of violence."

While this man was also the posterchild for bail reform, the mayor said that was up to the legislature.

But gangs are not the only ones with guns. There are many random, unpredictable crimes, like the man who shot people experiencing homelessness.

"How will these teams help to allay those fears and get people to come back to the city?" CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer asked the mayor.

"Right now, their focus is dealing with the guns that we're dealing with. We have other components in the police department that's dealing with those other issues, but Marcia, let's be clear, our city has reached a point where any and everything goes. There's just no respect for your neighbor," Adams said.

The mayor says the quality of life in the city has eroded and he intendeds to tackle that problem, too.

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