New York Daily News: MANHATTAN, NY – Brooklyn federal prosecutors are ramping up their fight against violent crime as shootings and murders have spiked across New York City this year.

Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Seth DuCharme on Wednesday announced a new dedicated unit named the Rapid and Strategic Prosecution Initiative, or RASP, that will focus on gun violence and quickly take “violent predators” off the street.

“The city is not as safe as it once was and certainly doesn’t feel as safe as it once did,” DuCharme told reporters a day earlier.

DuCharme was installed by Attorney General William Barr as the Acting US Attorney in Brooklyn to replace Richard Donoghue in July. He was previously working in Washington for the Department of Justice.

The RASP announcement comes as President Trump is campaigning on “law and order” and went so far as to threaten to decrease federal funding to New York City, which he labeled an “anarchist jurisdiction.”

The feds will also increase their rate of gun charges, and dedicate 12 senior assistant US.attorneys to take on additional work for RASP.

Acting United States Attorney, Eastern District of New York Seth D. Ducharme is pictured during a press conference in front of his office where he announced rapid Federal response to spike in gun related violence in Brooklyn and New York City.
Acting United States Attorney, Eastern District of New York Seth D. Ducharme is pictured during a press conference in front of his office where he announced rapid Federal response to spike in gun related violence in Brooklyn and New York City – Luiz C Ribeiro/for New York Daily News
The new unit is DuCharme’s first major initiative in the Eastern District — and comes as feds have been cracking down on convicted felons in Brooklyn, including 10 who were charged with gun possession in a single week in August.

Gun violence in the borough has also surged this year, with 519 shootings since January compared to 237 through the same period in 2019, according to NYPD statistics.

DuCharme said he believes federal prosecutors have to play a larger role in day-to-day prosecutions of gun crimes, because he says defendants charged in state courts are released at higher rates and face lighter sentences.

But he declined to blame bail reform measures passed in Albany earlier this year.

“I don’t need to nor do I have the power to respond to what’s happening in state politics,” DuCharme said, adding that there were “upsides” and “downsides” to bail reform. “I don’t have the power to do that, I don’t have the responsibility to do that.”

The head of the Brooklyn office of the Federal Defenders slammed the new unit as “an approach that we have already seen fail in New York City.”

“This approach disproportionately targets Black and Brown people as already seen by the pattern of arrests over the last two months in this district,” said Deirdre Von Dornum. “Instead, if the federal government wants to prevent violent crimes, they need to provide opportunities for jobs, education and housing. That’s what stops people from committing robberies and gun crimes.”