Commissioner Bratton: 'I’m Not Interested In Locking Up A Lot Of Old Junkies'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s out with the old and in with the new. Or, in this case, the young.

The NYPD’s new drug crackdown focuses on the under 40 crowd, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday.

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He’s already revamped the NYPD’s marijuana policy. People will no longer be arrested for possessing smaller amounts of the drug. Now Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has a new tactic for going after drug dealers. He wants his cops to focus on those ages 18 to 40.

“I’m not interested in locking up a lot of old junkies. I want to go after the young crowd that’s engaging in the shooting violence, that’s engaging in so much of the crime associated with the drug issues,” Bratton said.

One reason for the move is the huge increase in murders and people getting shot, Kramer reported.

Murders are up 12.7 percent for the year, and in the last four weeks the number of shooting victims is up 24.8 percent, Kramer reported.

“We want to focus on how to make the city much safer, reduce the violence,” Bratton said.

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For the commissioner, that means quality arrests, not quantity. It means zeroing in on a core group of bad guys and hard-core criminals who are believed to be responsible for shootings and violence in key precincts.

Sources told CBS2 the NYPD has also targeted about 300 gang members, drug dealers and trouble makers it would like to take off the streets with the hot summer months approaching.

“I have highly skilled people in the Organized Crime Control Bureau, I have undercover officers, I don’t need to waste their skills locking up some junkie that is 60 years old whose been arrested 80 times before. I need their skills to go after the more serious crime,” Bratton said. “It’s a misuse of their skills just to engage in the numbers game.”

Criminal justice experts warn that targeting younger criminals could have an unintended consequence.

“Now those over 40 who realize they’re not going to be targeted begin carrying the guns or moving the narcotics, because that won’t be the demographic that the Police Department is looking for,” said Jon Shane of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Bratton said it’s not that cops can’t arrest those over 40, but when they do they’re going to have to fill out a written report to justify the action, Kramer reported.

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The NYPD also feels that if its officers arrest a younger defendant they might be able to get that person to provide information on other trouble makers, Kramer reported.