With “stop-and-frisk” in decline in New York City, the police department is focusing on those responsible for much of the city's violent crime: youth gangs, known as crews or sets, the New York Times reports. While the new strategy has raised some objections, including privacy concerns, it has support from the stop-and-frisk tactic's greatest critics. As crime in New York declines, violence by youth gangs has grown more pronounced: 30 percent of all shootings in recent years were related to crews.
A police effort called Operation Crew Cut has helped drive murders down to new lows over the last year. Citywide, police recorded 774 shootings through Sept. 8, down from 1,029 over the same period last year. “If I had to point to one reason why the murders and the shootings are down, it is this program,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “And I can tell you that there is a lot of positive feedback from cops.” The strategy seeks to exploit the online postings of suspected members and their digital connections to build criminal conspiracy cases against whole groups that might otherwise take years of painstaking undercover work to penetrate. Facebook, officers like to say now, is the most reliable informer.