New York City Mayor Eric Adams has been escalating the city’s police powers, deeply concerning civil rights advocates, the Guardian reports. Adams, the second Black person to serve as mayor, largely won the mayorship through securing the votes of Black, brown and working-class New Yorkers. Despite garnering support from top Democrats such as Joe Biden and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Adams’s vast expansion of controversial policing tactics and calls for deep cuts to affordable housing and homelessness services have left many anxious about his impact on the coalitions that elected him. “Mayor Adams is basically reigniting some of the worst parts of the NYPD, which is saying a lot,” said Jerome Greco of the Legal Aid Society.
Adams has reinstated New York’s infamous plainclothes unit, an anti-crime squad of officers dressed in civilian clothing and tasked with targeting violent crime. Plainclothes unit officers were involved in a shocking and disproportionately large number of killings, with a study by The Intercept finding that in 2018, plainclothes officers were involved in thirty one percent of fatal police shootings despite accounting for just six percent of the force. Adams also pledged to increase the use of facial recognition technology (FRT) to identify culprits of crime despite widespread pushback over the technology’s efficacy and use by police. While the technology is promoted as a tool to solve serious crime, critics have argued that in addition to being disproportionately used on minorities, it is inaccurate. More FRT is placed in non-white areas of New York, despite the technology being notoriously inaccurate at identifying Black and Asian people.