2012-10-12 / Top Stories

NYPD Moves Against Project Street Crews

By Howard Schwach

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly discusses the street crew initiative. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly discusses the street crew initiative. For years, the New York City Police Department has included a gang unit dedicated to battling the major street gangs such as the Latin Kings, the Bloods, the Crips, MS 13 and Nieta.

The department has had major successes against those large, national gangs, but less success against the small “street crews,” that form, make alliances and enemies and then collapse, mostly in public housing complexes.

Statistics show that citywide, more than 30 percent of the city’s shooting incidents are associated with one or another of the housing projects and its crews.

Now, those crews, fighting for turf in areas as small as a few blocks or a single project high-rise, will become the focus of a renewed NYPD gang unit.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly pointed out the problem in a recent speech.

“You come into my backyard and you get hurt,” he said of the gang mantra. “You dis my crew and you pay the price.”

Rockaway has a number of the targeted crews, a police source said.

There are several in the sprawling Redfern Houses in Far Rockaway, where the buildings in the back of the project on Redfern Avenue are constantly in battle with the buildings on Beach Channel Drive.

Two of the most active are the GIB – Get It in Bricks (referring to bricks of cocaine) in the Hammel Houses and the 40’s Boyz in Edgemere.

Local police sources say that the majority of shooting events in Rockaway derive from the battle between those two crews.

Called ‘Operation Crew Cut,’ anti-gang cops as well as uniformed officers will be deployed to areas such as Rockaway to fight the crews, some of which have fewer than two dozen members and often center on one family or circle of friends who grew up together in the projects.

Kelly pointed out that many of the gangs use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to pass messages and to taunt other crews.

Detectives, he said, will use the same social media to fight the crews.

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