By BRAD HAMILTON and JAMIE SCHRAM
February 24, 2013
The city’s murder rate, which hit an all-time low last year, continues to plummet thanks to creative new police strategies that target
youth gangs and spouse beaters.
The innovative tactics helped send the city’s homicide numbers tumbling to a record-low 414 murders in 2012 and they’re down another 33 percent so far this year, police said.
One novel approach involves charging teen gang members with conspiracy, using taunts and threats they post on social-media sites to build mafia-style cases against them.
These small crews of trigger-happy thugs are responsible for 30 percent of all the shootings in the city, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told The Post.
“For the last couple years, we’ve seen the emergence of younger males committing crimes in small geographic areas — turf,” he said.
“My idea, the Crew Cut concept, focuses on this directly, and we’re addressing it with the gang unit, patrol and SNU [street narcotics units] in the precincts that need it most in each borough,” he said.
The new units — dubbed SETs for Strategy Enforcement Teams — operate in eight precincts in all five boroughs.
Kelly also revealed he’s doubling the gang division’s strength, from 150 to 300 officers.
“In each initiative, the teams help us monitor social media and we gather information we can use on these groups.”
“We think that it’s working. We started in October, and it’s paying dividends now.”
The program scored a major success in Brownsville Brooklyn’s 73rd Precinct, where commander Joseph Gulota had his SET team pore over tweets and Facebook posts from the area’s known street gangs.
The information was handed off to prosecutors, who used the conspiracy rap to nail dozens of gangbangers in sweeps akin to the big Mafia takedowns.
“They were locking up 40 to 50 people at once,” said one police supervisor.
Direct quotes from thugs provided a new way in.
“If you have a victim who is assaulted, they won’t talk to police,” said the source. “But when gang members threaten each other on Facebook, that’s enough to get a conspiracy charge.”