New York City Mayor Eric Adams touted 31 arrests that were made last week by the NYPD’s new Neighborhood Safety Teams, a revamped version of the NYPD's controversial plainclothes anti-crime unit that was disbanded in 2020.
Adams, a former police captain who ran on a tough-on-crime platform, vowed to bring back the plainclothes unit during his successful campaign last year, roiling some New Yorkers who accused the anti-crime team of aggressive and discriminatory tactics.
"If they think they are going back to the old ways of policing then we’re going to take to the streets again," Hawk Newsome, co-founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, said outside Borough Hall after meeting with Adams in November. "There will be riots, there will be fire, and there will be bloodshed."
The new Neighborhood Safety Teams consist of 90 officers spread out across 25 different precincts citywide, with five more teams on the way in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.
While the old plainclothes units wore street clothes, the new units have "NYPD" clearly emblazoned on their backs and chests, which is a welcome change for New Yorkers who were concerned about their return.
"These are not the old units as promised. The mayor listened to the people of New York — he listened to us and responded adequately. These new units are clearly identifiable as police officers. And this is something that he changed after our conversation, after that whole dispute," Newsome told Fox News Digital on Tuesday.
"This is not the unit that he got elected on. This is a modified unit. And the reason it's modified is because people made noise and applied pressure, and New York City would not allow for that police unit to come back."
Adams acknowledged the controversial past of the revamped unit on Monday while touting the 31 arrests and 10 guns that were taken off the streets in the first week.
"When you’re doing something as transformative as this, there are those that are going to look at the pains that they’ve felt in the past and they’re going to be reluctant to move forward. But we’re not, we’re not going to be reluctant," Adams said Monday, noting that the Neighborhood Safety Teams have clear direction on how to operate.
"It’s a clear message: Do it right. Don’t violate the liberties of people, but go after those guns and those who are the trigger-pullers and dangerous in our city."
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell also said last week that the revamped teams are not the plainclothes units of the past.
"Any idea that we are going back to regressive policies to control crime is simply not true," Sewell told officers last week. "Through precision policing, we are addressing the criminal few who prey on the people of this city."
Mayor Adams' office did not respond to a request for comment.
Commissioner Dermot Shea ended the Neighborhood Safety Teams' predecessor in 2020 during the peak of protests over police brutality, saying at the time that the plainclothes unit was responsible for a disproportionate amount of shootings and complaints, including the fatal 2014 arrest of Eric Garner.
Fox News's Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report, as well as the Associated Press.