Harlem residents call for return of NYPD’s controversial plainclothes anti-crime unit

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HARLEM, Manhattan — Amid an uptick in gun violence, some in Harlem want the NYPD to bring back their controversial plainclothes anti-crime unit, which was disbanded last year after weeks of protests and calls for policing reform.

Villittha Lewis, who’s lived in Harlem for decades, said she hasn’t see gun violence at this level since the 80s. So far this year there have been 35 shootings compared to 26 last year in the confines of the 32nd precinct alone, data shows.

“It’s terrible, it’s very, very terrible and it needs to stop,” she said.

An Uber driver was killed; a teenager was shot in the chest and a woman with a walker was violently robbed.

Chaplain Robert Rice, who spent hours Sunday consoling family members after a pregnant mom was fatally shot, said he’d like to see the unit return.

“We need the plainclothes back out there because we are losing these kids and we’re losing them at a record number,” he said. “Families are crying out to say no more bloodshed.”

Community advocate Alpheaus Marcus wants the unit to return in a responsible way. He said he also wants an aggressive return.”

“Anything short of the stop and frisk because it violated the constitution, but they need to be more of a presence on the streets,” he said.

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