Politico

Adams makes the case for a centrist approach to national crime wave


NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday painted himself as a compassionate but tough-on-crime Democrat as he looks to build his national profile amid a rise in gun violence across American cities.

Adams, who joined the NYPD to reform the department from within before becoming a state senator, was elected mayor on the promise to improve quality-of-life issues and drive down violent crime.

“This is my history of fighting against heavy-handed and abusive policing. You can have the justice that we deserve with the safety we need,” Adams said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning. “I think that it is important for people to say, who’s implementing the proper use of dealing with quality of life: Eric Adams. I was a leading voice that testified in federal court about the overuse of police tactics. Now I’m in charge of that police department, and I know how we can run a police department.”

Adams said the NYPD’s controversial new anti-crime unit has taken “20-something guns” off the streets. He called on the federal government to boost funding for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to improve coordination and better track guns flooding cities — a conversation Adams said he had with President Joe Biden and chief of staff Ron Klain on Saturday.

“Executive orders are crucial. But while we’re waiting for the president and the White House to continue to do the good things they are doing, I have to do the things we must do on the ground in New York City, and that’s what we’re doing,” Adams said. “My officers are stepping up with quality-of-life issues and we’re zeroing in on dangerous gangs and zeroing in on those who are trigger pullers and carrying guns.”

New York City reported the highest number of shootings in a decade, with a 40 percent spike in homicides over the last two years, according to “Face the Nation.” The rise in crime comes as the city is moving into the endemic phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, which killed more than 40,000 residents. The city is also confronting quality-of-life issues Adams described as people injecting heroin in the parks in front of children or going into stores, stealing “whatever they want” and jumping subway turnstiles.

Adams dismissed concerns from CBS’ Margaret Brennan, who asked whether his policies were dressed-up broken-windows policing — an approach used by former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani that critics said unfairly targeted minorities.

Since taking office on Jan. 1, Adams has deployed hundreds of cops into the subway system to remove homeless people and tore down nearly 250 encampments across the city’s streets.

Adams defended the policy on Sunday.

“You don’t have to use police to remove the encampments in our city like we’re doing,” Adams said, citing one example of how his style differed from Giuliani, who ordered police officers to arrest people experiencing homelessness who refused to go into shelters. “We’re doing a combination of social services, giving people the dignity they deserve. That is what we’re talking about, cleaning our streets and making sure that we don’t have a state of disorder.”

Adams has declared himself the “new face of the Democratic Party,” and a model for how the party could reclaim an authoritative position on public safety issues that Republicans tend to dominate.

The mayor has gone on the national circuit during his first three months in office, traveling to Washington, D.C., to coordinate with Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Metropolitan Police Department on a gunman targeting people experiencing homelessness who were sleeping on the streets; to Chicago, where he met with Mayor Lori Lightfoot to address the influx of guns into America’s inner cities; and to Baton Rouge, La., where Adams gave the keynote address at the National Organization Of Black Law Enforcement Executives’ 2022 symposium.

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