“My fellow New Yorkers, if there’s one thing I want to say to you it is this: Nothing works in our city without public safety, and for public safety, we need the police,” Mr. Yang said. “My message to the N.Y.P.D. is this: New York needs you. Your city needs you.”
“The truth is that New York City cannot afford to defund the police,” he added.
Times Square represents the commercial and tourist heart of Manhattan, itself the financial capital of New York City and the nation. The shooting comes as the city is revving up its marketing engine, with the goal of reviving New York City’s tourist trade.
In the year before the pandemic, 66.6 million tourists came to town, giving rise to 400,000 tourism-related jobs and an estimated economic impact of $70 billion. Last year, only 22 million tourists came to New York City, and officials estimate it will take years for the industry to recover.
The police say more than 460 people have been shot this year in New York City as of May 2, compared with 259 last year and 239 in 2019 at the same point. Mr. de Blasio routinely attributes the rise in shootings to the societal upheaval wrought by the pandemic, which has created mass unemployment, and also blames a slowdown in the court system. Dermot F. Shea, Mr. de Blasio’s police commissioner, tends to blame recent statewide criminal justice reforms, which he says have made it harder to keep those charged with criminal offenses in jail.
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Both Mr. Adams and Mr. Yang took the opportunity to highlight their policing agendas, which include reimagining plainclothes anti-violence units. Mr. de Blasio disbanded his plainclothes anti-crime unit, which had been involved in many police shootings, last year. Both also touted their commitment to criminal justice reform.
Mr. Yang said he would ensure his plainclothes unit was populated by better-trained officers with clean records. Mr. Adams has said he would hire officers for the unit with the skills and temperament for the job.
Other moderate candidates, like the former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia and the former Citigroup executive Raymond J. McGuire, chimed in with similar themes — that public safety and strong policing need not come at the expense of criminal justice reform.