NEW YORK -- Following a month of increasing shootings in New York City Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik will transfer the leaders of at least 15 police commands.
The transfers are to take place on Thursday, Dec. 6. The bulk of the transfers will be in Brooklyn and Queens. At least one command in the Bronx will also be affected.
"As they do throughout the course of the year, the police commissioner and the top members of his command staff have assessed the operational needs of the department and have determined that these transfers will best address those needs," said Deputy Inspector Chris Rising, a department spokesman.
Although the transfers are occurring after a month of increases in shootings compared with the same periods last year, department officials said the moves were not being made in response to the increases.
Officials said that the commissioner hoped the transfers would give young, aspiring commanders a chance to show their leadership skills as retirements and the mayoral transition dilute some of the department's senior leadership.
In addition, a shortage of police officers caused by many having died in the World Trade Center attack and others helping fight the war in Afghanistan as members of the reserves or national guard, leaves the NYPD working doubly hard.
Murders were up 50 percent — to 15 from 10 —- when compared with the same time a year ago. However, despite this, the city's overall crime rate is down 12.5 percent against last year.
Criminologists say that such increases are not uncommon and warn that it would be premature to draw any conclusions about changes in the city's crime trends.
Kerik and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani have said the increases are due to the normal fluctuation of crime data.
Although officials said the transfers were not a form of discipline, union officials questioned the motivation behind the moves.
"He's the commissioner and he's got every right to do that," John Driscoll, the head of the Captains Endowment Association, said. "But it could be a knee-jerk response to let people know that he's doing something."