Violence is surging in the 42nd Precinct in the South Bronx with a 39% overall spike in crime from December 2021 to January 2022.
On Feb. 3, the 42nd Precinct Council held its monthly meeting where Commanding Officer Inspector Carlos Ghonz addressed the rise in car thefts, shootings and assaults. So far this year, there have been 55 shootings within the 42nd Precinct footprint, which is up 40% percent from last year. However, gun arrests have increased 86 percent compared to 2021 — so cops are getting guns off the streets.
Ghonz added that on Jan. 31 alone, the police recovered 10 guns.
“It’s a big issue in our community,” he said. “We are doing our part. We have made a number of arrests this year for shootings that happened last year.”
The inspector also praised local cure violence groups like B.R.A.G., Guns Down, Life Up and Save Our Streets, for playing a big role in preventing gun violence. But Ghonz said two hotspots for gun violence — some of the offenders are as young as 16 — are 173rd to 174th streets as well as Lyding Avenue to 169th Street and Jennings Street, including surrounding blocks.
“A couple of years ago we didn’t have this many people handling guns,” Ghonz said.
Felony assaults are also up 26% in the precinct from January 2021. Kids are attacking elderly people around Southern Boulevard and seniors are being robbed as they enter their apartment buildings, according to Ghonz, who suggested that seniors look around and make sure it is safe before opening their doors.
Car theft increased by 35% percent and grand larcenies spiked by 50%, the latter mostly related to online fraud. in the past year.
While New York City saw a 38.5% increase in overall crime compared to January 2021, including two cops shot and killed while responding to domestic violence call in Harlem in January, many people are using bail reform as a scapegoat for the uptick in violence, said state Sen. Luis Sepulveda, who attended the meeting.
In 2020, New York state eliminated cash bail in cases involving most misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges.
“Crime is nowhere what we saw in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s,” the senator said. “People today want to blame bail reform.”
While the NYPD blames bail reform for the recent crime surge, Sepulveda, a Parkchester Progressive, said the numbers prove bail reform is working. According to Rodney Holcombe, New York Criminal Justice Director at FWD.us, over 99% of cases involving a person who was released pretrial in New York City did not lead to a rearrest for a violent felony in any given month. The rate of rearrest for violent felonies in New York City has not changed since reforms were enacted.
“I remind everyone that the reason we did this (bail reform) was because of discriminatory policies,” Sepulveda said.
For years, thousands of Black and brown people were arrested and not able to afford cash bail, including 16-year-old Bronx resident Kalief Browder, who was held at Rikers Island without trial between 2010 and 2013 for allegedly stealing a backpack containing valuables. Yonkers resident Layleen Polanco, 27, was jailed because she couldn’t pay $500 bail. Polanco subsequently died at Rikers from a seizure and Browder committed suicide in 2015.
Sepulveda said access to guns is a bigger problem than bail reform. And the root of the problem is the flow of guns through the Iron Pipeline, a route used to smuggle weapons from states mostly in the South. Sepulveda is worried that the NYPD is going to have their hands full in the future if the flow of guns isn’t stopped.
“What people don’t talk about is where the guns come from,” he said.
However, not everyone agrees with Holcombe and progressive politicians like Sepulveda. Mayor Eric Adams believes bail reform is the root cause for the recent crime and met with lawmakers in Albany earlier this month to discuss rolling it back.
According to the City, “In the first year New York’s new bail policies took effect, nearly a fifth of all defendants were rearrested for a crime of any kind, and 2% of the total led to a rearrest for a violent felony, according to the Office of Court Administration.”
Reach Jason Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.