Slashings will now be a separate category of crime and New York City police will increase patrol on city streets in the wake of a recent spike in knife attacks, city officials announced Tuesday.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced a new initiative as reports of slashings have gone up 22 percent compared to last year.
The initiative, called Operation Cutting Edge, is a multifaceted approach that aims to reduce the number of stabbings and slashings throughout the city. The plan begins with the NYPD ensuring they capture each incident correctly.
Officials indicated the new plan will address slashings similarly to how Bratton took on shootings in the ’90s: by creating a criminal category specific to slashings.
“We are moving forward in getting our arms around this,” said NYPD Chief of Department James P. O’Neill.
O’Neill added that currently such incidents are considered to be part of felony assaults but the NYPD will now address slashings and stabbings just how it previously has done with murders and shootings.
Based on analysis, according to O’Neill, a majority of such incidents seem to occur in or around where alcohol is consumed, which is why the NYPD will be increasing officer patrols at nightlife spots.
About 23 percent of such crimes occur between 7 p.m. and 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, according to de Blasio, and usually take place when people are under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.
There will also be an increase in enforcement efforts — such as traffic stops and DWI stops — and increased focus on illegal clubs as well as looking into existing violations at legal establishments.
As part of the initiative, the city will also look at how and where stores sell cutting tools. Officials will remind the public and officers on the legal definition about knives and detail what is legal and illegal to possess.
For example, according to authorities, it is illegal to carry a knife that has a blade over 4 inches long and displaying any knife on a belt or taking it out is also illegal.
Bratton added that the NYPD will also look to distinguish between what are legal cutting utensils — such as kitchen knives — versus illegal ones — such as box cutters, and reducing the availability of such items to the public.
“It’s a different animal than shootings,” Bratton said. “Knives are a constant in our lives. They’re everywhere.”
According to the police commissioner, as of Tuesday morning, compared to last year, there have been 916 slashing/stabbing/cutting incidents reported of which 492 occurred inside premises, and a total of 277 are domestic-related incidents.
Compared to stabbings and slashings, other major crime categories such as homicides and shootings are at historic lows.
Bratton added that most stabbings and slashings are as a result of encounters between strangers, when fights break out and during domestic disputes.
And although there have been recent reports of a large number of such incidents on the subway system, officials said, only 2 percent of the incidents occurred on the transit system. They also added that only 23 of the total incidents have been considered random.
“When we see a new problem, we go after it and we apply new approaches,” de Blasio said. “The situation with knife crimes is more complex and more subtle … So what the NYPD is looking at is when these crimes occur and where they occur.”