New York is getting another anti-crime unit, new mayor Eric Adams said in a speech. It is a controversial unit that was disbanded by the previous mayor for ethnic profiling.

Former police chief Adams started as mayor on January 1, and was confronted with several tragic (firearms) incidents in his first weeks. Last week, for example, two police officers were shot after being turned out for a domestic violence case. One of them died.

Earlier in January, a teenager was murdered on a night shift at a Burger King branch, a baby was shot in the head and a woman was pushed off a platform in front of an oncoming subway.

There have already been 73 firearms incidents in New York this year, almost a quarter more than in the same period last year. Adams promised in his campaign that he would tackle gun violence in the city.

The special police unit has been accused of profiling based on skin color and excessive police brutality in the past. Unit agents were responsible for the deaths of black New Yorkers Amadou Diallo (in 1999) and Eric Garner (in 2014).

Unit will be easily recognizable
In the past, the unit wore civilian clothes and could not be recognized as a police force. In the new set-up, which Adams says will start in three weeks, officers will not wear a police uniform or drive police cars, but they will be easily recognizable.

The agents must wear body cameras and be selected for “emotional intelligence”. They will also receive extra training, the mayor promised. For the time being, four hundred agents would be screened for suitability.

New York’s police force is the largest in the US, with 35,000 uniformed officers and a $5 billion budget.