NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The NYPD said gun violence is a central focus as violent crime continues to rise across the city.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman spoke privately with James Essig, the department’s new chief of detective, about his crime reduction strategies.
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“We have to work with everyone. It’s not just an NYPD issue. It’s a community issue, ”said Sheriff Essig, who oversees 6,000 detectives in every major investigation in the city.
Bauman spoke to Essig before he was sworn in as Chief of Police last week.
“What are your top priorities in this role?” Bauman asked.
“Well, I think we’ve all seen an increase in violence. It’s number one, ”Essig said.
Essig spent 38 years with the ministry and architect of the Gun Violence Suppression Unit.
“We were targeting a very narrow group of very violent people and in a very short time we were able to put them in jail and the violence was drastically reduced,” he said.
He plans to use that exact strategy in his new role.
“From 1,500 to 2,000 people committing multiple gun crimes, the people who carried out our shootings and our murders. As a small percentage. If we can get those people out of the street and away from the rest of us, we will reduce the violence, ”Mr. Essig said.
“How do you do that?” Bauman said.
“The current cases that we have in the detective’s office have been put on hold for the last year, we have to give them priority,” he said.
Investigators must now catch up with backlog from the pandemic, Essig said.
“Where we could have killed 100 evil fighters in the streets last year, that’s leading to an increase in crime,” he said.
As a young officer in 1985, Essig was awarded the Medal of Kindness for helping a woman who was stranded when a 35-ton crane collapsed in upper Manhattan.
Essig said to Bauman: “The crane is actually tilting to one side. “Actually, it took a few of us down and we comforted the victim and talked to her … Hours later, they were able to dig her out.”
Now, Essig plans to use her communication skills again for better community relations.
“How do you win the trust of some New Yorkers?” Bauman asked.
“Sometimes we are in a bubble. We’re in a police bubble… But I’m ready to listen to everyone, ”he said. “The community determines what the police will be, and in the end we will be what the community wants.”