Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday downplayed the surge in shootings plaguing the city as he defended his decision to not hire more cops with $6 billion in federal COVID-19 relief — even though President Biden explicitly authorized such a move.
De Blasio also falsely claimed that Biden’s remarks weren’t aimed at the Big Apple, even though gun violence across the city has spiked more than 40 percent this year — including the broad daylight shooting of a tourist in Times Square and two kids caught on camera ducking bullets in The Bronx.
“He specified that to certain cities that were dealing with challenges that are greater than ours,” de Blasio said of the president in response to a question from The Post during his daily City Hall press briefing.
But a White House source said de Blasio was “incorrect.”
“Cities like New York that are experiencing a spike in gun violence as a result of the pandemic are eligible to use [the] money to hire additional police officers above a pre-pandemic baseline level to help address that,” the source said.
The city’s $98.7 billion city budget for fiscal 2022, adopted Wednesday, added just $200 million to the NYPD’s budget, which last year was slashed by $1 billion amid demands by protesters to “defund the police.”
Last week, Biden said the White House was “providing more guidance” to local governments on how they could spend the $350 billion doled out through his “American Rescue Plan,” including “to help reduce crime and address the root causes.”
“For example, cities experiencing an increase in gun violence are able to use American Rescue Plan dollars to hire police officers needed for community policing and to pay their overtime,” the president said.
Following de Blasio’s news conference, The Post asked City Hall which “certain cities” the mayor was referring to, and noted that NYPD statistics show that shootings this year have increased 42.7 percent through June 27 compared to the same period last year.
Since 2019, shootings have more than doubled, by 105.1 percent, the official CompStat figures show.
In Los Angeles and Chicago, shootings are up 47.4 and 12 percent since last year, respectively, and 41.6 and 59 percent since 2019, according to statistics posted online by their police departments.
De Blasio spokesman Bill Neidhardt called it “wildly misleading to use percentage increase as the only comparison point” and provided a chart prepared by City Hall last month that compares the number of shootings in eight major cities — but on a per-capita basis.
The chart shows New York with the fewest number of shootings per 100,000 residents, and a rate of 17.3 percent this year, up from 10.5 last year.
“We started lower, are lower,” Neidhardt said.
“Percentage increase highlights how low of a starting place we were in thanks to Mayor de Blasio.”
Although the chart doesn’t include annual rates of increase, its figures show that shootings in New York are up 64.8 percent — more than anywhere else except blood-drenched Baltimore, where gun violence is up 84.2 percent.
Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago and Newark, N.J., all have smaller increases than New York, while Boston has actually seen shootings drop 18.8 percent, according to City Hall’s statistics.