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Troubled By Gun Violence, Many In Harlem Neighborhood Want To See NYPD Bring Back Plainclothes Officers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The 32nd Precinct is one area that is seeing the biggest uptick in gun violence in Harlem.

Now, community leaders and business owners are calling for more police presence, and to bring back plainclothes units to help deter crime, CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reported Thursday.

The neighborhood has seen a 60% increase in shootings this year compared to this time last year. Some restaurant owners say their customers have expressed feeling unsafe dining on the street, worried they could be hit by a stray bullet.

"I would feel more safe for me and my clients that we would have a little bit more police presence here," said Alex Price, who runs Cantina Restaurant on Lenox Avenue.

READ MORE41-Year-Old Recovering From Harlem Shooting

Price and a row of other business owners from 124th Street to 129th Street said they are worried about the recent uptick in shootings and crime, and what that means for the safety of their customers.

"With the business establishments having outside events, the concern is one of these bullets, like we see in the city so many times, actually striking a patron," community advocate Alpheaus Marcus said.

Store owners on the strip said they've also seen an increase in drug dealers and gang members who use gun violence to solidify their territory.

"In the area there's a lot of gang violence. A lot of young kids are getting shot. Honestly speaking, it's over nothing and it's putting a lot of lives in danger," Donnell Van Duyne said.

READ MORECommunity, Local Leaders Gather In Harlem To Call For End To Senseless Gun Violence

In the 32nd Precinct, so far this year there have been 31 shooting incidents compared to 19 at the same time last year. That's a 63% increase.

That's why business owners and community leaders are demanding the NYPD put in place more comprehensive police policies.

"What we want is, especially de Blasio with his last four months to stop playing politics. We want them to reactivate the plainclothes unit, because, again, these shootings are reckless and senseless," Marcus said.

READ MOREWhat Was The NYPD's Anti-Crime Unit And What Does It Being Disbanded Mean?

The NYPD's plainclothes Anti-Crime Unit was disbanded last summer. The officers were known for working undercover in unmarked cars. Their mission was to stop violent crime before it happened. But community members also argued that they were the officers involved in the city's most notorious police shootings.

"I think the type of police is important. The person that wears the uniform and patrols the neighborhood and tries to keep the neighborhood safe is important," one resident said.

"I do believe that there should be different type of officers in different type of clothing. Some outfits are intimidating, right? It can provoke some people to want to push against," Travaulya Wallace said.

The NYPD recently brought plainclothes narcotics teams back to the Bronx to help tackle gangs and drugs. Some in this neighborhood would like to see that happen here.

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