Spurred on by a too-”permissive” law-enforcement climate, federal prosecutors have taken aim at the gun-toting goons driving Brooklyn’s shooting spike by pouring resources into a program to prosecute firearm suspects, officials said.
The Eastern District of New York US Attorney’s office has pooled a dozen senior federal prosecutors to bring gun cases more swiftly under the “Rapid and Strategic Prosecution Initiative” — or RASP, Acting US Attorney Seth DuCharme told reporters during a sit-down on Tuesday.
“It should be more stressful in New York City to be an armed violent criminal offender than to be a member of the public, trying to go about your business,” DuCharme said.
“For some reason, that balance has been tilted. Armed violent criminal offenders have gotten way too comfortable walking around this city with some feeling of impunity,” he added.
The number of shootings in the borough has more-than doubled, with 519 reported so far this year compared to 237 over the same span last year. There were 294 victims for that period in 2019, while 2020 has seen 646 victims so far.
In recent months, the Eastern District has focused on probing “mid-range” gun cases instead of long, two-year Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations investigations that are typical of a federal prosecutor’s office.
DuCharme said his office is pursuing uncommon gun charges against suspects, citing laws that bar gun possession by those subject to domestic restraining orders, persons dishonorably discharged from the military and undocumented immigrants.
The “tempo” of gun crime in Brooklyn and elsewhere in the district called for the change in focus, DuCharme said.
“It’s because we’ve seen such a rapid rise in violent crime, gun crime in particular over the last few months that we have essentially refined our strategies and tactics,” he said.
The prosecutors are now investigating suspects loosely affiliated with gangs or those suspected to be “mobilizing toward violence” to lock them up on so-called “disruption charges.”
If prosecutors identify a gun suspect who has “aggravators,” such as a gang affiliation, a long state record or a history of violent crime, the Eastern District will hit them with a federal charge, when they may have deferred to state prosecutors in the past.
“Most of the mid-range cases we envision are still being investigated,” added EDNY spokesman John Marzulli.
The increased federal action Brooklyn has already seen has been welcomed by NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.
DuCharme said he believes the increased attention on gun cases will thwart specific criminals by keeping more suspects behind bars pending trial and securing longer sentences to those who are convicted.
In the past two months, 83 percent of suspects charged with a gun crime in state court were released on bail, while only 32 percent of defendants charged in federal court were cut loose. Gun convicts also typically face longer prison sentences in federal court.
More broadly, he added federal prosecutions of local gun crimes will change the perception criminals have of law-enforcement in the city amid changes to the state’s bail law and other criminal justice reforms.
“The statistics indicate to me that you are likely to be released if you’re arrested with a gun in New York City, and if you’re punished, your punishment is likely to be less than a year,” DuCharme said of state prosecutions.
This has contributed to the uptick in shootings that the feds are now stepping in to tamp down, DuCharme argued.
“The tone of the city is I can carry this gun, I can shoot this gun without fear of consequence. That needs to be changed. And we’re going to change that,” he said.
NYPD data from July, however, showed that less than 1 percent of persons released under bail reform this year were later arrested for a shooting.
— to nypost.com