Adams, de Blasio clash over controversial anti-crime unit
NEW YORK — Since Election Day, Mayor-elect Eric Adams typically has been in a celebratory mood. Friday was no different, at an event in his home borough opening a new school library.
"I may be graduating from Borough Hall and going to the university of City Hall, but I am going in with the understanding I am going to talk to you on the ground," Adams said while visiting the local high school.
Despite the promise, for the third day in a row, Adams had to answer questions about another promise, this one a signature campaign proposal: to bring back the NYPD's controversial anti-crime unit.
"No police commissioner is going to tell you, you can't police in the city without having some form of plainclothes unit," the mayor-elect said when taking questions from reporters later in the day.
Mayor Bill de Blasio disbanded the controversial plainclothes NYPD unit last year. That unit was supposed to go after violent crime and illegal guns, but was criticized for aggressive tactics and its involvement in a number of shootings.
On the radio on Friday, the current mayor defended his administration's decision to get rid of the unit, while downplaying his disagreement with the mayor-elect.
"Commissioner Shea — who has been at this work now for, you know, most of 30 years — he felt that the unit as constructed was not only creating a disconnect with communities, and ill will and some bad incidents," de Blasio said in an interview on WNYC's "The Brian Lehrer Show." “He thought it was also not the best way to get guns off the street and the best way to have successful prosecutions. And he wanted more of those officers in uniform — same talented officers, doing the work a different way. That happened and gun arrests have gone up, up, up.”
Hours later in Brooklyn, Adams explained his rationale for bringing it back.
"They stated the officers were carrying out their actions improper. How about, make sure the officers do their job?” Adams said. “That's an indictment on us that we have to disband something because the people assigned aren't doing their job. How about saying, 'You're going to do your job'? Because if that officer is abusive in a plainclothes assignment, he's going to be abusive in uniform."
Earlier this week, activists sat down with the mayor-elect to try to discuss his decision. In the end, one activist said there would be fire and riots if Adams followed through with his plan.
Meanwhile, Adams is moving forward with his transition plan. He promises his decision on a new police commissioner and schools chancellor will come after Thanksgiving.
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