New York Police “vertical patrols,” where officers scour the city's public-housing developments, sometimes with guns drawn, are likely to face renewed scrutiny in the wake of last week’s shooting death of an unarmed 28-year-old man in a Brooklyn housing stairwell, the Wall Street Journal reports. Officers routinely sweep stairwells and roofs, oftentimes with flashlights and service weapons in hand. Police Commissioner William Bratton said such patrols were an “essential part of policing,” adding that any change in department policy after Akai Gurley's shooting death would be “presumptive.”
The Brownsville and East New York neighborhoods, where Thursday's shooting took place, rank among the most crime-ridden public housing projects in the city. So far this year, there have been nearly 200 shootings on public-housing authority property through the first week of November. That's up nearly 16 percent over the same period one year ago. The shooting of Gurley, who was visiting his girlfriend, bore a resemblance to the much-publicized 2004 shooting of Timothy Stansbury Jr., a high school student who was shot at the top of a dark stairwell leading to the roof of a housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.