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NYPD Commish On Pandemic Policing: Open Streets To Present Challenges, Stopping Burglaries, Speeding, And More

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio's about face on closing 40 miles of streets for pedestrians and cyclists presents a new test for the NYPD, which is already facing the difficult task of policing through a pandemic that has also taken a toll on the agency.

On Monday, CBS2's Marcia Kramer talked to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea about that and more.

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For weeks, de Blasio refused to consider closing streets to provide open space for cooped-up New Yorkers to walk and ride bikes.

The City Council forced him into it, and now Shea will have to add that to the NYPD's growing list of responsibilities.

"It will be a challenge," Shea said.

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Just days ago police officials said that with a huge roster of sick officers, a recent pilot program took too many officers away from other duties. So, the compromise is that now community groups will be asked to enforce social distancing. The police commissioner said his officers could still be called in.

"We want people to get out there and exercise. What we are concerned about and have been concerned about is having too many people enjoy those blocks. So you're really creating what we've been trying to stop for these last six to eight weeks," Shea said.


When asked if he's worried about an increase in car accidents, Shea said, "You know me. I worry about everything. I certainly worry about an increase in car accidents. Over the last two months now we've seen some evidence of speeding going up across New York City."

And it's not just speeding. Despite the lockdown, there has been an increase in car theft and burglaries.

There were 936 burglaries from March 23 to April 19, compared to 749 in 2019.

"We have to get a handle on the burglary situation. It's just unconscionable that businesses that are closed down, that are already worried about going out of business, who support workers in this city with many of the mom and pop stores are now being victimized," Shea said.

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Another problem for the NYPD is the increase in homeless on the subways. Just last week the acting head of the Transit Authority slammed the city for not doing enough to get the homeless off of the trains.The police commissioner said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority isn't doing enough to get people off the trains by the end of the run.

"When you see and hear stories of somebody riding the train over and over throughout the night, that doesn't make sense to me. Why a train at the end of the night isn't taken out of service, cleaned, making sure it is in serviceable condition for the ridership."

Shea told Kramer he's also worried about a crime spike this summer.

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