A revamped version of a specialized police unit focused on getting firearms off New York City's’ streets is now operating in line with one of Mayor Eric Adams’s central campaign pledges as gun violence in the city remains above its prepandemic levels, the New York Times reports. The new unit's start coincides with rising anxiety about public safety after a string of high-profile shootings and attacks on the subway this year. Adams’s vow during the mayoral race to revive the unit was among the campaign’s most contentious subjects. Progressive candidates argued that the unit was responsible in its earlier incarnation for a disproportionate number of fatal police shootings.
The mayor and the police commissioner, Keechant Sewell, have said that the revamped squad, which they call the anti-gun unit, will avoid past problems and that misconduct and overly aggressive tactics will not be tolerated. To increase accountability, officers assigned to the unit will wear modified uniforms that identify them as Police Department members, rather than plain clothes. “We actually had to take a look at the mistakes of the past,” Sewell said. “We’ve talked to the community and found out exactly what the changes are they’d like to see, what their concerns were in the past.” How the unit performs — and whether it avoids the abuses of its predecessor — will provide a significant test for both Adams and Sewell.