And while investigators learn more about the Friday shooting that killed Officer Jason Rivera and left another officer in critical condition, the city’s new mayor has pledged a return to controversial policing tactics
in an effort to keep people safe.
Rivera, 22, was shot and killed while responding to a domestic incident
in Harlem Friday evening. A second officer, Wilbert Mora, 27, remained in critical condition as of Sunday following surgery, the New York Police Department said, and was transferred
from Harlem Hospital to NYU Langone Medical Center.
The suspected shooter, Lashawn McNeil, was listed in critical condition, the NYPD told CNN Friday. McNeil tried to run but was confronted by a third officer on the scene and was struck by two rounds, police said.
As city officials work to stem a recent uptick in violent crime highlighted by Friday’s shooting, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said plans to bring back plainclothes policing units — a practice ended in 2020 that had been under intense scrutiny
for its ties to stop-and-frisk policies — are in motion.
“Immediately we’re going to reinstitute a newer version of … a modified plainclothes anti-gun unit. I talked about this on the campaign trail. Our team has done the proper analysis and now we’re going to deploy that,” Adams told CNN’s Dana Bash Sunday.
Details of the new unit have yet to be revealed, but NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell asked precinct commanders to select candidates, according to a city official Sunday.
Those chosen would receive specific training, the official said, and the focus of the unit would be the removal of illegal guns from circulation.
The gun used in Friday’s shooting
, a Glock 45, was stolen from Baltimore in 2017 and had a high-capacity magazine that can hold up to 40 additional rounds, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig.
Five NYPD officers have been shot since the new year, police said, with Rivera being the first fatality. Flags on all city-administered buildings were lowered
to half staff over the weekend.
Officer wanted to improve community relations
Rivera, who entered the police academy on November 2, 2020, according to a source with knowledge of the officer’s records, said his first-hand experience with the controversial policy
of “stop and frisk” and the department’s effort to bolster community relations ultimately propelled him to join the department.
“I remember one day when I witnessed my brother being stopped and frisked,” Rivera wrote in an undated letter
to his commanding officer that was penned while he was in the police academy. “I asked myself, why are we being pulled over if we are in a taxi,” Rivera wrote.
Rivera said his community of Inwood was at odds with the NYPD but soon saw the department make efforts to change its ways, according to the letter obtained by CNN.
“As time went on, I saw the NYPD pushing hard on changing the relationship between the police and the community,” Rivera wrote. “This is when I realized I wanted to be part of the men in blue; better the relationship between the community and the police.”
The policy of stop and frisk
was ruled unconstitutional in 2013 and former Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped the city’s appeal of the ruling in 2014. Critics argued the practice disproportionately targeted people of color.
Rivera wrote that he was so moved by the NYPD’s effort to change that he wanted to be the first person in his family to become a police officer in what he called “the greatest police force in the world.”
“When I applied to become a police officer, I knew this was the career for me,” Rivera said.
City on edge following attacks
Officials in multiple jurisdictions quickly announced efforts to better handle a recent spate of violent crimes
following Friday’s shooting.
An interstate task force comprising of federal, state and local law enforcement representatives from nine northeastern states is due to meet Wednesday to work on how to curb the flow of illegal firearms, according to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office.
Mayor Adams told CNN he intends to roll out a larger plan to combat violence this week that will address “the underlying reasons you’re seeing crime” in New York, including institutional problems such as education.
“We have to go after those laws that are not realistic on understanding what’s happening on the ground,” Adams said Sunday.
“We have to stop the flow of guns. We are removing thousands of guns off our streets, and it appears as though for every gun we remove from the street, five are coming in. That’s unacceptable,” he said.
The city’s crime rate has been on the rise in recent months, though it is not near the rate of the early 1990s. In November, the most recent month for which the city has released data, the crime rate increased by 21.3% from the same period last year, per the NYPD.
In addition to gun violence, the city is also dealing with recent attacks in the subway system. On Sunday, a 62-year-old man suffered minor injuries after being pushed
onto subway tracks in Lower Manhattan, according to the NYPD.
The unnamed victim, who made contact with the lead train car while on the tracks, was transported to a hospital where he was treated for a laceration to his leg, police said. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing, the NYPD said.
Sunday’s incident followed a similar one on January 15 in which a 40-year-old woman was killed after being pushed in front of an oncoming subway train
. Police said it was a random attack, and the suspect was charged with second-degree murder after he turned himself in to police less than an hour later.
“These incidents are unacceptable and have to stop,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said in a statement.
“I don’t want to tell people that they should stand on subway platforms and feel like they’re, you know, in threat of their lives,” Lieber said in an interview with CNN affiliate WABC Sunday. “But everybody should stand away from the edge of the platform.”
The city will work to partner mental health professionals with police personnel in responding to the subway system incidents, Adams said.