New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced Monday that he is fulfilling a campaign promise and bringing back a new version of the once-controversial plainclothes anti-gun unit, as part of his blueprint to end gun violence.

The New York Police Department is expected to launch the new units, renamed neighborhood safety teams, within the next three weeks to enhance uniformed public safety teams. Hundreds of candidates have been identified. The plainclothes units will focus on the 30 precincts where 80% of violence occurs. 

It’s an issue Adams, a former NYPD sergeant, campaigned on after shootings and violent crime spiked in the Big Apple when the original units were disbanded in 2020 under his predecessor Bill de Blasio. 


"New Yorkers feel as if a sea of violence is engulfing our city. But as your mayor, I promise you, I will not let this happen. We will not surrender our city to the violent few," Adams said at City Hall Monday. "Gun violence is a public health crisis. There’s no time to wait. We must act." 

Criticism toward the plainclothes units, accused by progressives for disproportionally targeting Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, reached a fever pitch during calls to defund police after George Floyd's death. 

Mayor Eric Adams

Mayor Eric Adams speaks as hundreds of police officers and FDNY officers gather at the 32nd Precinct for a vigil for two officers shot in Harlem Jan. 22, 2022. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The mayor’s office says the city will be conducting "listening tours in key neighborhoods, truly understanding the challenges of past Anti-Crime Units and providing additional training, supervision, analytics and risk monitoring to ensure these enhanced teams work with communities." 

A plainclothes unit is crucial in investigating and reducing gun-related crime, National Police Association spokeswoman Betsy Brantner-Smith, a retired police sergeant, explained to Fox News Digital, because, generally speaking, she’s found that people who are illegally possessing a firearm for nefarious reasons are not going to be overt about their activity when they see a uniformed police officer in a marked patrol car. 


"Plainclothes officers need to be able to move freely, of course, in all areas of the city, but they need to especially focus on those areas where violent crime is most prevalent," she said. "When we look at New York City, like a lot of other large cities, very often that's going to be in the poorest of areas." 

"So, we've got to employ logic," she said. "We've got to employ statistics and take a good hard look at where the violent crime is happening, who's committing it and then put plainclothes resources in those areas because a plainclothes police officer can move a lot more freely in an area to be able to detect violent criminals and stop them and hopefully remove more illegal firearms from the streets of the city." 

Mayor Eric Adams

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell await the remains of Officer Jason Rivera at a funeral home on Jan. 23, 2022. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

The announcement comes as New York City is mourning the loss of NYPD Officer Jason Rivera, 22, who was mortally wounded Friday while responding to a domestic call in Harlem. His partner, Officer Wilbert Mora, 27, remained in critical condition Monday, as Adams announced the 47-year-old suspect, shot by a third officer at the scene, had died from his injures. He allegedly fired at the officer with a .45-caliber weapon, and Adams said police found a loaded assault rifle under his mattress. 

"It's time to take the politics out of policing and out of crime response and crime prevention," Brantner-Smith said Monday, speaking to Fox News Digital before Adams’ press conference. "Remember, we got rid of this, the gun unit that the mayor is bringing back. That was eliminated for purely political reasons. Politics has no business being involved when we're talking about people's safety." 

"After we look at the last 20 months in the whole country, I think we can all now safely say, and we need to realize and be adults about it, that these pro-criminal policies not only are they not working," Brantner-Smith said. "They are endangering people, especially people in urban areas. And if you look at this murder statistics, they're especially endangering people of color." 


In the first three weeks as mayor, Adams said he’s also been with an officer shot in the head while sleeping in his own car between shifts outside a police precinct in Harlem; the mother of a 19-year-old Burger King employee killed while she worked the night shift in Harlem; and a police officer shot by a 16-year-old alleged gang member in the Bronx as the two struggled for a gun; and he has held hands and prayed with a mother after an 11-year-old girl was shot in the head by a stray bullet in the Bronx. 

In response to Rivera’s death, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday announced the formation of an Interstate Task Force in partnership with the city to target illegal guns. Adams, thanking his fellow Democrat for sending state resources, also renewed calls to make changes in the state’s bail reform law.   

"The interstate task force on illegal guns is an important first step. But we must also address bail reform and our pre-trial detention system," Adams said Monday. "New York is the only state in the country that does not allow a judge to detain a defendant who poses an immediate threat to the community. Other states, as well as the federal government, allow judges to consider a defendant’s dangerousness." 

"New York must catch up," the mayor continued, pointing to the bail reform law that took effect in 2020 under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "Judges must be able to evaluate a defendant and his criminal history and the circumstances of the alleged crime to detain those individuals who pose an immediate threat to the safety of the community."

The National Police Association, a nonprofit that educates supporters of law enforcement, is also calling on Adams to hold newly elected Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg accountable. 

"We are hoping that he will fight for a reversal of bail reform in New York. We hope that he is going to hold the newly elected Manhattan district attorney accountable for any failures to prosecute violent criminals and gun crime," Brantner-Smith said. "Mayor Adams has been talking a lot about gun crime. And yet when you look at the realities of the gun laws in New York as opposed to how they are prosecuted, there are a lot of failures there that I hope the mayor recognizes and speaks out against." 


"Let me just say that New York City has the third-strictest gun laws in the United States. Let's use those gun laws to prosecute," she said. "Anyone who uses a firearm in the commission of a violent felony, whether it's threatening someone during an armed robbery, during a carjacking, what you know during a domestic dispute, they need to be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And while that process is playing out from their arrest to their trial to their conviction, they need to be incarcerated. We encourage the mayor to speak honestly with people about that and encourage bipartisan support for all of that."