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Entries in New York Police Department (3)

Tuesday
Oct022012

New York's Kelly Plans 'Crew Cut' for Gang Members

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly, a former Marine, plans to use social media to give the city's emerging street gangs a buzz cut with an aggressive new anti-gang initiative called Operation Crew Cut.

Kelly will announce the strategy today at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) annual conference in San Diego.

New York's loosely affiliated gangs, or "street crews," "[are] responsible for much of the violence in and around public housing," Kelly said. "Under a program we've named operation Crew Cut, the department intends to double the size of its Gang Division from approximately 150 detectives to 300."

While other cities with entrenched gangs, like Los Angeles and Chicago, have identified as many as 100,000 gang members who belong to powerful national groups, New York's experience has so far run counter to that trend, and Kelly's plan aims to cut the emerging gangs down at their roots -- turning crew members' rising use of social media against them.

Crew Cut is, Kelly said, an initiative that will target "[not] large, established gangs such as the Bloods and Crips, but [the] looser associations of younger men who identify themselves by the block they live on, or on which side of a housing development they reside. Their loyalty is to their friends living in a relatively small area and their rivalries are based not on narcotics trafficking or some other entrepreneurial interest, but simply on local turf."

Kelly's plan comes against a backdrop of what he says is a small reduction in shootings, a slightly larger reduction in shooting victims, and an 18 percent reduction in murders in New York.

"We're hoping that by focusing more resources in a coordinated thoughtful way on these crews that we'll reduce violent crime in New York City even further," Kelly said. "That's because crews are responsible for no less than 30 percent of shootings in New York City."

Crew Cut is also launching, however, at a time when police agencies nationwide are shrinking. The IACP's own estimate, Kelly noted, indicated that between 10,000 and 15,000 positions have been lost.

Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Foundation Forum, said law enforcement professionals would be monitoring Kelly's effort to get ahead of an emerging problem.

"One of the most interesting stories in policing is why New York has not experienced gang problems to the extent that other cities like Chicago and L.A. have," Wexler said. "Kelly's recognition of this emerging issue of gang activity in New York and his comprehensive approach using social media will be watched closely."

Kelly tied his anti-gang initiative to the rise in social media usage and the overall impact of technology on the police mission, a topic under discussion this week in San Diego at workshops attended by many of the nation's police chiefs from jurisdictions as large as New York, as small as Hayward, Calif., and as poor as New Haven, Conn.

"Social media is [a] new ingredient, often used to add fuel to the fire. For example, one gang member will post a photograph of himself in front of a rival's apartment building or post surveillance photographs of rivals who they threatened to kill next," Kelly said. "Members also used social media to intimidate informants. They would post copies on Facebook of orders of protection that identified complainants."

In Brooklyn's East New York neighborhood, Kelly said, his detectives used social media to track members of warring gangs called "the Very Crispy Gangsters" and the "Rockstarz" until they amassed enough evidence to arrest 49 gang members two weeks ago.

"By capitalizing on the irresistible urge of these suspects to brag about their murderous exploits on Facebook, detectives used social media to draw a virtual map of their criminal activity over the last three years," Kelly said

However, Kelly acknowledges, "Despite the successes in this takedown and others, the department did not have any coordinated, consistent approach to street crews."

Operation Crew Cut is meant to correct that, and the Gang Unit's members will be supported by NYPD lawyers assigned to gang divisions in New York's five boroughs, as well as by uniformed and plainclothes officers.

"Our Juvenile Justice Division will be the clearinghouse to support social media-driven investigations," Kelly said. "In addition to tracking the admissions of criminal conduct and plans of future crimes by crew members on Facebook, YouTube and elsewhere, the division will be responsible for maintaining a dictionary of sorts with [the] continually updated lexicon employed by crews as a kind of code."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep262011

NYPD Can Shoot Down Planes, but with What?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The NYPD is capable of shooting down planes in the event of another 9/11-style attack on New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday, but it's unknown exactly what weapons the police have at their disposal, and whether their arsenal includes surface-to-air missiles.

"The NYPD has lots of capabilities that you don't know about and you won't know about," Bloomberg told reporters Monday, echoing recent comments by police commissioner Ray Kelly.

"Do you mean to say that the NYPD has the means to take down an aircraft?" Kelly was asked by 60 Minutes on Sunday.

"Yes," he replied, "I prefer not to get into details, but obviously, this would be in a very extreme situation."

It would have to be an extreme situation, given the danger of shooting down a large plane over a heavily populated area like New York City. It's also not entirely clear legally, whether cops -- unlike the military -- could shoot at an unarmed jet.

Neither Bloomberg nor Kelly would specify what weapons the NYPD has its disposal. Many believe New York's top cop was referring to the helicopter-mounted Barrett .50 caliber rifle, known since 2005 to be in the city's counter-terrorism arsenal.

The Barrett, a high-powered sniper rifle, could easily disable a car, truck or small plane, and is often used by the Coast Guard to stop boats carrying drugs, but it likely could not take down a large commercial passenger jet, like those flown into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

To shoot down a large jet, the NYPD would almost certainly need to use a missile or a large caliber machine gun. The NYPD would not confirm to ABC News which weapons Bloomberg and Kelly were referring to, or were in the city's arsenal.

Bloomberg said there was "not any one technology, not any one weapon" that the city would rely on completely in the event of an air attack.

"The main thing that keeps us safe is the 55,000 people who work for the police department," he said. "The 1,000 dedicated to intelligence and counterterrorism. The 35,000 who are uniformed and on the street every day." The mayor added that the city spends $8.5 billion on policing annually.

During the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Air Force jets were scrambled, but they required the approval of the president to fire on hijacked planes. Requests for comment on who is currently empowered to authorize a shootdown if New York City faced an imminent threat were not immediately answered by the NYPD.

In the ten years since 9/11 the NYPD has made counterterrorism a top priority, taking into its own hands operations that were once solely within the purview of the federal government, including gathering intelligence overseas and acquiring military-grade weapons.

Lower Manhattan today is carefully watched 24-hours a day by a $150 million network of some 1,000 closed-circuit cameras, and another 2,000 are expected to soon dot other parts of the city.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr052011

NYPD Holds Five-Day Drill to Prepare for Dirty Bomb Attack

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The New York Police Department will begin a five-day drill Tuesday to test its preparedness against a dirty bomb attack on the city.

The drill will take place over five days, involve hundreds of personnel from 150 agencies, and will cost millions of dollars that the city and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security hope will help prevent a dirty bomb attack on New York by land or by sea.

The exercise will begin at the United Nations and spread into the Bronx, Long Island and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey.

Officials maintain that the drill is not the result of a specific threat.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio