As crime in New York City rises to the level of crisis seen in the 1970s, Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliva argues that his decades of experience leading an unarmed patrol group The Guardian Angels have been overshadowed by Democratic rival Eric Adams to deal with the escalating violence in the Big Apple a year after the start of the “return of the police” movement.
President Biden joins Adams, a retired NYPD captain and current Brooklyn borough president, in a roundtable discussion on gun violence at the White House this week — even though Adams barely won his Democratic primary and there’s still a general election in November. , Sliva told LBL.
“For me, his invitation was purely political,” said Sliva. “It’s almost as if they decided we didn’t want to hear from Republicans, even though Curtis Sliva has more credentials in this area than anyone who attended a White House convention, especially Eric Adams.”
Unlike the other attendees at the Round Table, Sliva has a unique perspective as he is personally a victim of gun violence. He was shot five times in June 1992 on the orders of John Gotti Jr. and the Gambino crime family to John Gotti Sr., and therefore went through four federal trials.
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“I understand that having experienced gun violence problems,” Sliva, who was once shot with a .38 Special handgun, said. “You say ‘gun control, gun control’ because that’s always what comes out of these sessions. That doesn’t do anything to stop the gunman.”
Sliva described the massive increase in crime as a result of budget cuts in the late 1970s, with New York City on the verge of “fiscal collapse”. Fast forward to the present day after New York City first became ground zero for the coronavirus in the US last year, and then saw widespread “defend police” demonstrations. The current escalating violence has also been largely attributed to the NYPD disbanding its plain dress unit in June 2020.
As the newspaper reported in 1971, the NY Daily News, Sliva, a 17-year-old newspaper delivery boy at the time, was recognized by President Nixon for his bravery at the White House after rescuing six people from a burning building on his way to the White House. was. Archives. Sliva was later honored by the New York City Sanitation Commissioner for creating a neighborhood cleanup team called the “Rock Brigade”.
Speaking to LBL, Sliva described how as a night manager at McDonald’s in the Bronx in the late ’70s, he convinced his employees to start patrolling the subway line as they boarded work. , because the uniformed officers were not patrolling the 4 train. , or what was known as the “Magar Express”.
Sliva said Guardian Angels was an unarmed patrol that made civilian arrests to prevent attacks, fights and things that could lead to further violence. Convinced that his work would earn him the Congressional Medal of Honor, Sliva said he was surprised when New York City Mayor Ed Koch alerted him to “Hell’s Angels” at the time, calling them “Hell’s Angels”.
Police unions had also convinced their members that our presence would affect their job security, “so they started a period of harassment against us,” Sliva said. As the Bronx was burning and people were pouring out, gangs seizing control also saw their patrols as opponents.
“No matter where we turned, if it wasn’t the gang members who were a problem for us, it was the police,” he said. “And yet we were trying to keep people safe and secure.”
In 1985, communities requested the services of Guardian Angels as violence continued in parks and in the subway system, but their relationship with the police remained strained. And the problem did not improve under the administration of another Democratic mayor, David Dinkins. It wasn’t until Rudy Giuliani became mayor that the Guardian Angels were really embraced.
Currently about 200 volunteers strong, Guardian Angels continues to patrol the subway system, as police are often stationed at platforms or junctions rather than patrolling moving trains. The watch was also called by the Asian community to build patrols earlier this year to counter the rise in hate crimes seen in areas such as Chinatown, Flushing, Queens and Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Even what were once known as high-end neighborhoods in Manhattan, such as the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Chelsea and Little Italy, have called on the Guardian Angels for assistance in recent months. , which Sliva said has never been requested before in the response. to growing problems.
“I hold the mayor completely responsible for this because he has taken a disastrous ball for our police department,” Sliva said.
Sliva argued that Mayor Bill de Blasio dismissed federal COVID-19 support that could be used to strengthen the police department twice, and Adams emphasized in remarks at the White House that he Will not necessarily use federal funds to hire more police if he becomes mayor.
Sliva said, “If you’re not going to accept help in hiring the police you can’t be there to rectify the problem of crime. Without more police, none of this is going to be achieved.” ” “Although Eric Adams claims to be Law & Order, it was when he said to the President, ‘No?’ So how can he claim that title.”
When contacted by LBL about the facility, a spokesman for de Blasio said Mayer has never turned down federal funds for the NYPD.
“Curtis Sliva is wrong. About most things really,” de Blasio’s press secretary Bill Neidhart wrote in an email to LBL. “New York City has never turned down the Federal COVID Relief Fund or the Federal Law Enforcement Fund.”
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are “put directly to NYPD headquarters for crying out loud,” Neidhart continued. “Getting a basic fact like this wrong shows just how out of depth Curtis is.”
Sliva said the NYPD currently lacks 4,000 officers out of the 38,000 needed to function effectively, indicating how the force is depleted by mass early retirement in response to low morale and skilled officers being recruited elsewhere. has gone. De Blasio’s spokesman did not acknowledge those numbers.
“My response was, the city now needs to take the money, hire police officers, train them and take them to the streets, subways and parks as soon as possible because we are in a crime emergency, and one thing is That’s not being addressed here is the recruitment of more police,” Sliva said.
As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely accessible, many Manhattan-based corporate offices are faced with the decision to recall some or all of their employees around September. But as Biden’s Justice Department sends strike forces to New York City and elsewhere to tackle gun smuggling, large-scale violence on the city’s subway system still poses an alarming risk to commuters.
Subway systems have homeless people who use subway areas and trains to shelter, and emotionally disturbed individuals. People with psychotic episodes or dealing with drug or alcohol addiction often attack riders, according to Sliva. Gangs also roam the subway, often instructing young recruits to attack women, kill people, or push them in front of trains as some kind of initiation.
“If you don’t tackle those problems, you won’t be able to encourage people to go back to empty office buildings and work because they don’t want to take the risk,” he said.
The Guardian Angels also make contact with homeless and emotionally disturbed people, helping them find unlocked restrooms or escorting them to the hospital to receive their medication or mental health care, as Sliva argues. that the service is not being performed by the city or state agencies.
LBL also reached out to Adams for comment but did not hear back prior to publication.