Curtis Sliwa, a Republican mayoral candidate, called on the NYPD to return to “old-school ways” of policing, including the controversial stop-and-frisk policy, to end the “open warfare involving teenagers” on the city’s streets on Saturday.
Outside the Gowanus Houses in Brooklyn, where 16-year-old Kyla Sobers was shot in the head Friday by a stray bullet as she hung out with friends after school, Sliwa held up a copy of today’s New York Post with the headline “Too Young to Die” and photos of some of the at least 21 young people killed this year.
Authorities said the teen was in surgery Friday night and was in critical condition on Saturday.
“This front page says it all,” Sliwa said. “Politicians don’t want to deal with it. Most of the citizens don’t want to deal with it because it’s not their children. These are children of color. Children who predominately live in the inner city. Children who live in public housing complexes for the most part.”
The Guardian Angels’ founder, Sliwa, reiterated his call for the NYPD to “stop, question, and frisk” young people.
“You have to be able to take these young individuals, mostly males, and you have to be able to pat them down,” he said. “And you have to be able to pat them down in front of others, to know that they don’t have weapons.”
The policy was a tool used by the NYPD’s anti-crime unit, a team of 600 plainclothes cops who took a proactive approach to removing guns from the street. It was challenged over its effectiveness and eventually stopped due to racial profiling concerns. The stop-and-frisk era came to an end in 2020 when the unit was disbanded.
Sliwa said the unit needs to be revived.
“Men and women who are out there who are undercover who know where the guns are, who know where the gangs are,” he said.
Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams has also chastised the city for disbanding the unit, saying he supports stop-and-frisk when done properly. A representative for Adams did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the youth violence epidemic.
“Political policies are just as much to blame as the people who squeeze the triggers,” said Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association.
“It’s a combination on a lot of attacks on the criminal justice system,” he said. “There’s bail reform, lack of prosecution by the district attorneys. The law is written for them to prosecute. They prosecute on their own opinions, not on law.”
Tony Karon, 60, a journalist who has lived near the shooting scene for the past 18 years, said he heard gunshots and later learned his car had been hit.
The back windows of his Subaru SUV were blown out, and shards littered the back seat and the vehicle’s floor.
He said the victim was more important to him than his car, and he described the rise in violence as “terrible.”
“I think it’s a sign that the city is not working for the people, somehow,” Karon said. “There is something wrong. This is not like a pathology of one kid here, one kid there. This is like a pattern so something is wrong.”