New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio administration has announced a more than $2 million annual investment to expand the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s effective investigation and prosecution of crimes involving gun violence and narcotics trafficking, as well as the Office’s strategies to address the heroin epidemic.
“Despite dramatic decreases in violent crime, we know that drug-related violence continues to be a problem that the City must address – and we will use every means necessary to stop this violence at its root. By combining sophisticated technology and cutting-edge investigations, the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, in collaboration with the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies, targets those individuals responsible for violence in our city,” a press release quoted Mayor de Blasio as saying.
The office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan has citywide jurisdiction, functioning as an arm of the District Attorneys’ offices in each of the five boroughs, and is uniquely suited to investigate and prosecute narcotics-related criminal activity citywide. The OSNP and its local, state and federal partners have seized over 250 kilograms of heroin (550 pounds) so far this year, including a record-breaking seizure of 70 kilograms (154 pounds) in the Fieldston section of the Bronx in May.
The mayor was all praise for Brennan, saying: “Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan has an outstanding track record of dismantling violent narcotic distribution networks, and this investment marks an important expansion of proven anti-violence strategies.”
The NYPD, Special Narcotics Prosecutor, and the City’s five District Attorneys have had recent success infiltrating and dismantling such networks using cutting-edge technology to identify and pursue members of criminal enterprises from street-level dealers to top suppliers, often investigating related violent gang activity.
Over the past 20 years, New York City has seen a crime decline that has led the nation and made New York the safest large city in the US. Every major type of crime plummeted over the last two decades – both murders and robberies have dropped by over 80 percent.
According to Mayor’s office, de Blasio finished his first year in office with the fewest homicides – 333 – in the city’s history. The NYPD recently announced that June 2015 was the safest June in the city since 1993, and that shootings have decreased by more than 19 percent and murders have dropped by 50 percent in the precincts that have received extra officers under the Department’s “Summer All Out” initiative.
Despite dramatic reductions in violent crime, the city experiences isolated shooting spikes, often concentrated in a few neighborhoods and largely committed by a few gangs and street crews. Four of the top 10 precincts for narcotics arrests are also in the top 10 precincts for shootings incidents. These four precincts account for 12.8 percent of narcotics arrests and 18.4 percent of shooting incidents citywide. Brooklyn and the Bronx have had success in reducing shooting incidents this year, with the number in both boroughs dropping by 5 percent compared to last year, a press release issued by the mayor’s office said.
“Despite all the gains we’ve made in reducing violence in the city, there are too many neighborhoods that still live with the fear of gunfire and random violence, often linked to narcotics activity. The funding that’s announced today will help us to address the underlying crimes that fuel the violence,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan. “We thank the Administration and the City Council for their support, and we look forward to close collaboration with the District Attorneys on these investigations.”
According to Police Commissioner William Bratton, a link between violence and narcotics dealing has been clearly established over the years and it continues to be a serious problem in parts of the city. “A significant amount of violence, including shootings and murders, can be directly associated with illegal drug activity,” he said, adding: ” The Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor has been instrumental in the apprehension and successful prosecution of numerous individuals who have committed violent felonies in furtherance of their illegal narcotics activities. The on-going work of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor is key to continuing the war on illegal narcotics as well as the associated violence that still affects too many areas of our city.”