The recent spate of shootings in New York City are at best a statistical anomaly and at worst a disturbing new trend — either way, it’s terrifying. Eight more people were shot on Monday, leaving three dead, after a violent Fourth of July that saw at least a dozen people fall victim to gunfire; the week before, 60 people were shot. “It’s true that this particular week of the Fourth of July traditionally has been a very high-crime shooting, murder week,” Bloomberg said yesterday, repeating a claim he made over the weekend. “It’s an outrage,” he added. “I hope this week is just an aberration in the statistics, but we are working as hard as we can to stop it.”
However you slice it, the numbers are up from last year: There have been 12 percent more shootings on the year so far, and murders are up to 21 from 18 at this point in 2011 — a jump of almost 17 percent. But things are much worse in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel is grappling with a homicide rate that’s soared more than 30 percent.
As criticism builds over an array of horrifying recent incidents, including a 7-year-old girl shot while selling candy, Emanuel is begging for some compassion from the city’s gangs. “We’ve got two gangbangers, one standing next to a kid. Get away from that kid. Take your stuff away to the alley. Don’t touch the children of the city of Chicago. Don’t get near them,” he pleaded on CBS Evening News last night. “And it is about values. As I said then [when the 7-year-old girl was killed last month], who raised you? How were you raised? And I don’t buy this case where people say they don’t have values. They do have values. They have the wrong values. Don’t come near the kids — don’t touch them.”
Emanuel and police chief Garry McCarthy are standing by their anti-gang strategy. Tactics include more beat cops in dangerous areas and the targeting of abandoned buildings that serve as hiding spots for gang members and guns, but both men have said that swarming high-crime areas with hundreds of officers temporarily and then moving them around won’t work. McCarthy went so far as to compare it to “putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound,” while Emanuel added, “I don’t think coming in, swatting something down and letting it come back in two weeks is strengthening a community. What it does is build up cynicism.”
In the Windy City, homicides are already up to at least 275. Last year, Chicago recorded about the same amount of murders as New York, despite being three times smaller. “That’s not success and I’m not willing to take it as success,” said McCarthy, a former New York City cop.
Locally, amid criticism for stop-and-frisk, Bloomberg is throwing up his hands in frustration. Asked yesterday if there was something more the city could do, he shot back, “If there was, don’t you think we would do it?” He continued: “I mean, what kind of question … Let me repeat what Ray Kelly is constantly [saying]: If you have any suggestions, we’d be happy to hear it. We are doing every single thing we can to keep you and your kids safe.” Bloomberg might’ve sounded Rahm-like in his rawness, but the Chicago mayor might tell him he’s doing a relatively good job.