By Daniel Katzive
The 20th Precinct’s monthly Community Council meeting on Thursday provided an opportunity for local officers to share their views on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling handed down earlier in the day invalidating New York State’s concealed carry permitting laws and expanding gun rights.
The precinct’s commanding officer, Captain Neil Zuber, was unable to attend this month’s meeting, so the discussion was led by precinct Executive Officer Captain Leighton Myrie, along with the precinct’s Crime Prevention Officer Mike McGuire.
Captain Myrie evoked the specter of Bernard Goetz from 1984 and noted that most civilians do not have the training in threat assessment and conflict de-escalation needed to safely intervene with firearms. He also noted that private citizens are not trained to secure weapons properly, and that increased carrying of weapons in public could lead to more weapons finding their way into the wrong hands.
While the officers were clearly concerned about the implications of Thursday’s ruling, Officer McGuire noted that nothing will change immediately. Licensed firearm owners who want to carry their weapons in public will still need to apply for a concealed carry permit, and this process can involve background checks and, potentially, training requirements and stricter definitions of “security areas” where weapons cannot be carried. Note that Governor Kathy Hochul has indicated she would call a special legislative session as soon as July to redraw legislation in a way that would survive future legal challenges.
Moreover, Officer McGuire noted that the majority of gun violence crimes are committed with unregistered illegal weapons and the NYPD will continue to fight that scourge. “Illegal guns are still illegal. You will still get arrested. It is not a free for all. We have some of the strictest gun laws in the country and the NYPD will enforce those” he said.
In terms of overall crime numbers in the precinct, Captain Myrie noted that numbers are up over the past month compared to last year, but not in terms of violent crimes. Grand larcenies are higher, with 78 reported over the 28-days ending June 19 vs. 47 in the same period last year according to NYPD CompStat data.
The Captain attributed the increase in larcenies in part to the greater number of people back on the streets as the weather improves, the city continues to emerge from the dampening effects on activity of the covid era, and Lincoln Center resumes its full summer slate of performances and events. The precinct’s officers did recently succeed in arresting a pickpocket suspected of a number of recent larcenies though he has not remained behind bars.
The precinct has also been hit by an increase in auto-related thefts, a similar dynamic as was described at last week’s 24th Precinct Council meeting. In the 20th precinct, these incidents have been concentrated on West End Avenue in the 80s and Riverside Drive. Sargent Sean Pallone, the supervisor of the precinct’s Neighborhood Coordination Officers, indicated that the thefts involved break-ins to vehicles as well as thefts of side-view mirrors and catalytic converters.
Sergeant Pallone indicated the police believe the thieves may case the neighborhood during the day, identifying vehicles to target, and then return at night. They may have “shopping lists” of particular makes and parts from chop shops. While the side-view mirror thefts seem to affect a broad range of makes and models, catalytic converter thefts appear to be concentrated on Honda CRVs and Honda Accords for unknown reasons.
On a more positive note, traffic accident numbers are down. The precinct led the borough in traffic fatalities in 2021 with a total of seven, but so far this year there have been zero fatal traffic accidents.