NYPD commissioner Bratton, Mayor de Blasio unveil new initiative to track, combat slashings

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New York City police Commissioner William Bratton says a 22 percent increase in slashings and stabbings has prompted the department to implement a new tracking policy, called Operation Cutting Edge.

City officials have conceded that it's not about the number of incidents, but about perception, and many residents are scared.

"You can't really prevent it," Harlem resident Gabby Rodriguez said. "People are going to do what they're going to do."

Police have already increased patrols underground, and this new initiative will cover city streets in a targeted fashion. Unlike shootings, stabbings and slashings were not being tracked until now.

Officials say these incidents are unlike shootings because there's no specific group of offenders, so instead, police are focusing on when and where these incidents are happening.

"Twenty three percent of stabbing and slashing crimes occur between 7 p.m. and 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

So police are now identifying the city's most problematic nightclubs, keeping legal ones safe and shutting down illegal ones.

"We had two triple stabbings this weekend that we thought were restaurants, but they were nightclubs," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.

Meanwhile, officials say the numbers can be misleading. According to NYPD statistics, only 2 percent of slashings and stabbings occurred on the subways. Forty percent of them were visible to patrols, with 60 percent happening indoors. Approximately 70 percent are as a result of domestic disputes, with less than 3 percent involving random victims.

But Bratton said that sometimes, perception can become reality.

"Knives are a constant in our lives," he said. "They are everywhere. So somebody in a moment of passion, domestic violence, dispute with a neighbor, there's a ready instrument available."

The NYPD is also trying to reduce the number of these weapons out on the streets. Box cutters, for instance, are not supposed to be sold to anyone under 21 and are supposed to be kept locked up behind counters. And as such, police will be stepping up enforcement.
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