‘We will not go backwards’: Mayor boosting NYPD presence after anti-Semitic crimes

dermot shea presser
Photo by Todd Maisel

With the New York City area still rattled by the latest anti-Semitic crime — a machete attack on a rabbi’s home in upstate Monsey Saturday night — Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined an enhanced plan Sunday to combat hate crimes in the five boroughs.

The de Blasio administration will be increasing NYPD presence in communities across the city, primarily in Brooklyn, with large Jewish populations by using the department’s Counterterrorism Task Force as prevention.

“This is something that may not have seemed necessary a few years ago but it sure has become necessary recently,” de Blasio said. “Today I announce additional NYPD presence … Any hate crime tries to take us backwards, we will not go backwards.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio led a contingent of elected officials and community leaders inside the Brooklyn Public Library Grand Army branch in condemning hate violence just before lighting the Hanukkah Menorah in Grand Army Plaza. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Williamsburg, Borough Park and Crown Heights are just few of the communities which will see additional cops.

“When people see an increased police presence there is also going to be a dialogue with the communities,” de Blasio said, acknowledging the divide between communities of color and law enforcement.

There will also be additional curriculum in Brooklyn schools that will teach students about hate crimes as a means of prevention.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the suspect in the Monsey attack traveled by car through the 32nd Precinct in Harlem where his license plate was flagged; he was arrested by two officers.

Shea reported that several NYPD squad cars arrived at the intersection where the suspect was apprehended at gunpoint. The whole encounter lasted 15 seconds, he said.

“It’s a little surreal to be standing here … Days after Jersey City and here we are again having a conversation about hate and intolerance,” Shea said. “Speaking about it after the fact, what we need is to speak about it before it takes place.”

Although planned reforms taking effect in January have led to the perception that justice may not be served in some cases, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said his office will always take action against anti-Semitic attacks.

“It’s real, the perception of the lack of safety from the Jewish community is real,” Gonzalez said. “The changes in the law have happened. We will respect the law and move forward, but we will prosecuted these cases.”

A woman bears a menorah in hand during the lighting of the Grand Army Plaza Hanukkah Menorah on Sunday, the eighth night of the Festival of Lights. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Light towers, cameras and more NYPD personnel will be part of the increase in coverage. The public school component of the plan will come in January, de Blasio said, and there would be specific schools where the program would start.

Bail reform will not have an effect on how cases are prosecuted, Shea said; it only effects how accused individuals are held based on their circumstances.

This story first appeared on amny.com.

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