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Amid Dramatic Spike In Shootings, Poll Shows New Yorkers Want More Cops

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New data have shown shootings in the city are rising and gun seizures are falling – and a poll has shown New Yorkers overwhelmingly want Mayor Bill de Blasio to hire more police officers.

As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the crime spike has left police seriously concerned.

“It’s concerning when a 15-year-old young boy could suggest to me that he’s a gang member, and he wouldn’t think twice about shooting and killing someone – even if that means he will serve 15 years in jail,” said NYPD Deputy Inspector Ruel Stephenson, commander of the 47th Precinct.

The precinct, in the Williamsbridge-Eastchester section of the Bronx, has been dealing with a gigantic surge in shootings. Police officials have been trying to figure out why – is it gang violence, drugs, other factors?

“It’s not one specific area that’s causing the shootings,” Stephenson said. “We have some gang violence. We have some narcotics. We have some where people are getting robbed. There doesn’t seem to be any end to some of these retaliation shootings.”

What Stephenson does know is that his is one of a number of police precincts – largely in minority areas of the city – where shootings have spiked dramatically.

• Shootings in the 47th Precinct are up 91.6 percent over last year;

• Shootings in the 69th Precinct in Canarsie, Brooklyn are up 200 percent;

• Shootings in the 75th Precinct in East New York, Brooklyn are up 76 percent;

• Shootings in the 43rd Precinct in the Parkchester-Soundview section of the Bronx are up 70 percent;

• Shootings in the 113th Precinct in Jamaica, Queens are also up 70 percent.

One councilman from the Bronx explained how dire the situation has become.

“Over the last 45 days, we’ve had not only eight shootings – more shootings – but we’ve had eight deaths,” said City Councilman Andy King (D-12th.) “That is seven more than we’ve had over the same time last year.”

In light of the spike in shootings, a new Quinnipiac University poll found that 75 percent of New Yorkers support a City Council proposal to hire 1,000 additional police officers. Only 18 percent are against the idea.

Also, by a margin of two to one, New Yorkers want to see police resume patrolling housing projects. A total of 59 percent of respondents favor the resumption of patrols of public housing hallways, while 30 percent are against such a plan.

The revelation in the poll followed the tragic stabbing death of a 6-year-old boy

Prince Joshua “PJ” Avitto was stabbed to death last week while in the elevator of the Boulevard Houses with his friend Mikayla Capers, 7, who was also attacked. Daniel St. Hubert was indicted on murder and assault charges in the case, and faces 50 years to life in prison of convicted.

City officials have not discontinued the patrols in the public housing hallways, but there have been fewer of them.

There have been 94,000 public vertical patrols since January – a 14 percent decrease over last year.

However, the number of criminal trespass arrests in the housing developments has increased 8.8 percent.

Mayor de Blasio has said repeatedly that the city does not need to hire more police officers, and that the 34,500 currently on the force are sufficient.

“We’re proud that the murder rate is lower. We’re proud that some crimes are down,” the mayor said on Wednesday. “We know some others are up, and we’re going to address that each and every place we find it.”

Since January, crime is, in fact, down in citywide in five of seven categories. But with shootings up, a major disagreement has risen between the mayor and the City Council over the hiring of more officers.

The completion of the budget at the end of the month will determine who prevails.

Meanwhile, the Quinnipiac poll also had some interesting findings about how the NYPD recruits informants. The issue of recruiting informants among Muslims and other minority groups who get arrested has been a hot-button issue.

The poll found that New Yorkers support the practice overall, but it has a racial divide. White and Hispanic voters were predominantly in favor of recruiting informants, while African-American voters were predominantly against the practice.

For more poll results, click here.

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