Williams doubtful about NYPD-AFT partnership to combat gun violence

Jumaane Williams
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams speaks during a demonstration on Thursday, March 25, 2021, in New York.
Associated Press/John Minchillo, file

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said on Wednesday that while he’s glad to finally see the federal government taking meaningful action on a community level, he’s not fully sold on the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) partnership to combat gun violence.

“I have questions and concerns about where the ATF partnership will focus and how it will be implemented,” said Williams. “If the sole focus is on seizing guns already on our city streets, it will be insufficient.

“We need a focus on stopping the initial flow of firearms into communities,” he added. “Gun arrests on our streets are already at record rates, and it’s essential to interrupt this pipeline that has long fueled violence earlier on its path.

“My hope is that law enforcement and the ATF will focus attention on bad actors who deliberately violate gun laws, which are already all too weak, such as dealers who repeatedly ‘lose’ guns in states with weaker laws, which make their way to cities like ours,” the public advocate continued.

Additionally, Williams noted that “we have seen in the past that NYPD collaboration with federal agencies like ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency) have sometimes led to the enabling of abuses, to the disruption of and distrust within communities.

“As this new initiative moves forward, it’s vital that the city and administration be transparent about it and include more community-led safety stakeholders in the process of integrating new resources into current strategies,” he said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday that the NYPD and the ATF will form a partnership aimed at reducing gun violence and stopping the flow of illegal guns into the city.

De Blasio said the agreement will permit ATF agents to be embedded directly within the NYPD, permit members of the NYPD working with the ATF’s gun-tracing team to have federal agent privileges and will enable the sharing of intelligence information between the two agencies.

The mayor said the NYPD-ATF collaboration will help to “get guns out of the city once and for all.”

“With the help of the federal government, we can do things we’ve never done before, and we will,” he said.

According to CNN, shooting incidents in New York City have surged since last year, basing the information on NYPD data.

Shooting incidents in New York City increased by 73 percent last month compared to the same time last year, said CNN, referring to the latest NYPD crime statistics report.

It said May 2021 saw 173 reported shooting incidents compared with 100 in May 2020.

NYPD data shows that there have been 564 shooting incidents in the city so far in 2021, including a recent shooting in which a 10-year-old boy was killed just days before his birthday, according to CNN.