NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The federal government is ramping up efforts to prosecute gun crimes in New York City.
It’s an effort to help curb an alarming number of shootings in recent months, especially in Brooklyn, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported Wednesday.
The feds say they want the balance to shift back to law-abiding citizens in the city and away from criminals.
From a 1-year-old shot dead in a stroller in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, to an innocent wife and mother shot dead by a stray bullet that pierced through her apartment window in Jackson Heights, Queens, gun violence has seen a staggering uptick this year in the city.
It’s enough to alarm Acting U.S. Attorney Seth Ducharme from the Eastern District of New York.
“My perception is, is that the city and certain other pockets have become an environment which is too permissive for armed criminal offenders to walk the streets at the peril of the public,” Ducharme said.
He wants to change that. His office, along with the NYPD, FBI and other federal agencies, are expanding their initiative, which targets street-level gun prosecutions. They’re going after more gun criminals on federal charges.
A person can be charged at both the state and federal level, but federal gun laws carry stiffer penalties.
There are also laws exclusive to the feds, like being a felon in possession of a gun.
“We will be aggressively enforcing those gun laws,” Ducharme said.
The latest NYPD stats show this year gun arrests are up more than 9%, but shooting incidents are also up about 90%, compared to the same time last year.
Brooklyn is the most violent, with nearly half of all shooting victims.
The goal here is to single out the main drivers of gun violence.
“We are out there. We are waiting for you and we will catch you,” said John DeVito with the ATF.
In the city, the Eastern District covers Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
New York State’s controversial bail reform law, which ended cash bail for most offenses, does not apply to federal charges.
Ducharme said alleged perpetrators are detained in 70% of federal gun cases in his district, compared to 22% for state cases. He added their initiative is meant to compliment the work of the district attorneys.
“There has been terrific coordination,” Ducharme said.
“This is a not one or the other. This is all one team leaning in the same direction, working for New Yorkers to keep the streets of New York City safe,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
The acting U.S. Attorney said they’ve added 12 experienced federal prosecutors to this effort, bringing the total to 14. The goal is to file federal charges, where applicable, within 24 hours of a crime.
Federal Defenders of New York called the initiative misguided, saying this will only contribute to over incarceration and racial inequality.
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