NYPD, people of color must unite against gun violence: police official

97 percent of June's shooting victims, and all of early July's, were people of color

The New York Police Department is pledging renewed efforts to strengthen its relationship with the community, as the city continues to see an uptick in gun violence, with more than 300 people – nearly all people of color – shot since the start of June, police officials said.

Jeffrey Maddrey, the NYPD’s recently appointed Chief of the Community Affairs Bureau, spoke to the media on Tuesday for the first time since he was enlisted to “reimagine” the unit, police said in a release shortly after the press conference.

Maddrey emphasized the importance of forging relationships between the NYPD and communities of color. Maddrey, who is Black, acknowledged the tumultuous history between police and people of color and said “we have to move forward” as a way to heal.

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“We have a common enemy – communities, cops, people everywhere – and that’s gun violence, and we have to work together to defeat that,” he said. “All members of the community have to feel comfortable having conversations with us. We have to be straight up with people in the communities, young men on the corners, young Black men, young Latino men …  we have to let them know we are people they can approach.”

Gun violence has been on the rise since the beginning of June, with at least 205 shootings that injured 270 people that month, police data show.

July kicked off with similar spates of bloodshed. The NYPD saw at least 44 shootings, from which there were 63 victims, from July 3 to July 5, according to data provided by the NYPD. The department recorded 16 shootings and 21 victims during the same time period in 2019.

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NYPD's crime data released Monday shows 97 percent of June's shooting victims, and all of July's shootings as of Sunday night, were people of color.

Chief Jeffrey Maddrey is photographed outside the Brooklyn North Patrol Borough in the Brooklyn borough of New York in June 2020.  (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

Chief Jeffrey Maddrey is photographed outside the Brooklyn North Patrol Borough in the Brooklyn borough of New York in June 2020.  (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

“We can keep yelling about ‘defund the police,’ protests can keep going on, but when do we move forward? When do we start healing?” Maddrey said. “That’s what I’m about right now.”

Tensions between law enforcement and the public have run high nationwide since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which prompted nationwide demonstrations against police brutality and systematic racism, along with calls for police departments to have their budgets slashed.

Floyd, a Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

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Following several weeks of protests in New York City and clashes between demonstrators and the NYPD, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a state law outlawing police use of chokeholds. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD, which had already banned the use of chokeholds for years, later announced the disbandment of the plainclothes anti-crime unit tasked with taking illegal guns off the street.

Some lawmakers, activists and residents also called for at least $1 billion in cuts to the NYPD’s $5.7 billion budget. City Council members ultimately voted to shift $1 billion from policing to education and social services in the coming year, although some activists decried the budgetary methods used to achieve the cuts.

The NYPD announced on June 24 it had appointed Maddrey, a longtime New Yorker, and veteran police chief, to the role of Chief of Community Affairs as part of its efforts to “position the agency for 21st-century policing by strengthening the bonds between officers and residents."

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Maddrey joined the NYPD in 1991 and has held high-ranking roles throughout the five boroughs. He most recently oversaw the department's Patrol Borough Brooklyn North.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.