(NewsNation) — School’s almost over across the country, and while the students are excited for a summer with no homework, police departments are doing their own homework preparing for the surge in violence that accompanies the last bell ringing every year.
With school out and more young people on the street and unsupervised, more violent exchanges are common, as scores are settled and grudges simmering from the school year boil over into fights and, at times, gunfire.
Police call it the “summer surge,” a traditional spike in violent crime which makes it one of the most dangerous and difficult times of the year for officers to keep the peace.
In New York City, the murder rate is down 13 percent but violent crime overall is up 42 percent compared to this same time a year ago. In a recent poll taken by Emerson College and The Hill, 84 percent of New Yorkers indicated they’re very concerned about the level of gun violence.
Nationwide, the Gun Violence Archive, which has been tracking violent gun-related deaths since 2013, says nearly 15,000 people have died from gun violence in the U.S. so far this year. With that number expected to increase substantially between Memorial Day and Labor Day, police departments are trying to get ahead of the curve.
In Washington, D.C., the focus will be public transportation, with more officers patrolling the District’s trains and buses.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, some neighborhoods aren’t waiting for stepped-up police protection. They’re hiring their own private security contractors, armed guards assigned to patrol their neighborhoods. Many of the guards are off-duty police officers. The move is unconventional but not illegal.
The overall blanket approach for police departments this summer is to flood the streets with officers, target areas notorious for high crime and offer young people alternatives like day camps and summer jobs to get them off the streets and away from trouble.
Police say they still need more help from the federal government to get illegal guns off the streets. President Joe Biden asked the Justice Department to do everything it can to stop the flow of illegal guns and the manufacture of “ghost guns” being used to commit violent crimes, and to have a zero-tolerance policy for those caught illegally dealing guns.