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De Blasio: NYPD 'Responding Aggressively' In Fight Against Stabbings, Slashings

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As stabbing and slashing incidents continue unabated, the de Blasio administration on Tuesday announced a new plan to reduce the crimes that have New Yorkers on edge.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, there have been 916 since January involving various cutting instruments – a 22 percent increase from the same period a year earlier.

The random attacks with knives, box cutters and sometimes even homemade weapons have New Yorkers feeling unsafe on the streets of the city. Finally on Tuesday, they were getting the laser-like attention of the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"We will be responding aggressively to the uptick in stabbings and slashings," de Blasio said, "and the way we'll do it is the way we've always done it -- through precision policing."

The mayor and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced what they called "phase three" of their anti-stabbing plan.

"Unlike shooting incidents, stabbings and slashings are more often the result of personal adverse encounters with strangers, disputes, street fights – or as I've indicated, domestic incidents," Bratton said.

What the NYPD has discovered so far is that 23 percent of knife crimes occur between 7 p.m. and 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, as WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported.

"They occur at a point in the week when unusual number of people are out, and unfortunately, many of them are under the influence of alcohol and drugs," the mayor said.

Thus, the plan will include additional patrols around 20 nightclubs in neighborhoods such as Washington Heights and Harlem, Jackson Heights in Queens, and some communities in the Bronx.

There will also be a crackdown on illegal clubs in all five boroughs, and police will also enforce laws that make it illegal to sell box cutters to anyone under 21 or carry a blade over 4 inches in length.

"Our enforcement efforts will also be increasing, so that means traffic stops; DWI checkpoints by highway," said NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill.

CBS2 has been demanding answers from de Blasio for weeks about how he will curb slashings and stabbings. Kramer asked the mayor about the issue on Feb. 22.

"What are you going to do to stop the slashings, stop the stabbings, and make New Yorkers feel safe?" Kramer asked the mayor.

De Blasio's response was: "There will be 2,000 more cops on the beat in this city. Nothing is going to contribute to greater safety than that."

On March 3, city officials said they were sending more officers into the subways to stop knife crimes. An estimated 2 percent of slashings occur in subways, and 2.5 of the attacks are random, 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa reported.

Kramer asked de Blasio, "What can you do psychologically to make people in New York City feel safer?"

"Marcia, I think we're just going to have a disagreement on this, with all due respect. I believe in the NYPD," de Blasio told Kramer. "The people of New York City are very well-served by the NYPD, and they never neglect any pattern they see."

The city also previously announced plan to beef up security in homeless shelters where about 3 percent of stabbings and slashings occur. But Tuesday was the first time the city announced such a massive plan to identify an reduce knife crimes.

The mayor got defensive when Kramer brought that up.

Kramer: "Why did you change your mind about the need for additional strategies?"

De Blasio: "Again, I said to you that the NYPD was doing the things that would make an impact. Now one thing that has happened in the just the last few weeks is we've seen some different numbers than we saw a month ago, and it provided more of an insight."

Kramer: "You and I have discussed this repeatedly. What made you change your mind?"

De Blasio: "Again, Marcia, respectfully, I'm not going to allow anyone to put words in my mouth. I didn't change my mind. I believed the NYPD was on the right track before. I believe they're on the right track now."

Bratton said he expects to see results in the form of a reduction of stabbings and slashings within weeks.

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