NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday unveiled his much-anticipated program to curb violent crime Wednesday, while telling CBS2 that critics concerned about surging murder rates are just “fearmongering” and blowing things out of proportion.
The mayor talked exclusively with CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer at City Hall.
De Blasio and police Commissioner Bill Bratton were at roll call at the 44th Precinct in the Bronx Wednesday, for the rollout of the “Summer All Out” program. The NYPD initiative will add 330 officers to 10 high-crime precincts, with a goal of reducing murder rates that have climbed nearly 20 percent since the beginning of the year.
The goal is to reduce murder rates that have climbed nearly 20 percent since the beginning of the year, as well as a significant increase in total shootings.
But as Kramer reported, of the five shooting incidents reported by the NYPD in a 24-hour period Tuesday and Wednesday, four occurred in precincts that are not getting the extra officers. Kramer asked the mayor if he should revise the program in light of the new violence.
“I’m convinced that the precincts they’ve chosen are the ones where we’ve had the most sustained problems, not some individual problems,” de Blasio said.
The mayor also charged that his critics are blowing things out of proportion.
“I think the entire public dialogue has been pulled in the wrong direction, and bluntly, I think people are hearing a lot of fearmongering,” de Blasio said.
But some say the fear is justified, Kramer reported. When Patty Coppolino went to buy groceries in Williamsburg, Brooklyn the other day, she brought Mace – even though it was broad daylight and the supermarket is across from the 90th Precinct stationhouse.
“I feel unsafe,” Coppolino told Kramer on Monday. “I have Mace now.”
Jeanne Zaino, a political scientist at Iona College, said the mayor is not addressing fears of residents like Coppolino. And she said it is hurting him.
“The mayor isn’t getting out on the streets and talking to people, which has a perennial problem with this mayor — because the perception on the street is not that things are looking up,” Zaino said. “I know the mayor wants to say crime overall is down – which it is – but violent crime is up, and that makes people feel unsafe.”
De Blasio said some of his critics are just afraid of his progressive agenda.
“Some are misguided. Some have an axe to grind or a special interest they’re trying to promote. Some don’t like me; don’t like Bill Bratton, have some personal motivation. And I think some are trying to undermine the bigger thing we’re doing here,” the mayor said.
Even after rolling out the anti-violence program, de Blasio still faces a number of tough policing questions. The City Council, Commissioner Bratton, and police unions are pushing the mayor to hire more officers, but de Blasio said he doesn’t need them.
But budget negotiations are going on with the City Council, and will not conclude for several weeks.