- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2016

Gang members in New York City are causing new concerns for law enforcement as known criminal organizations move their activity off the streets and onto the Internet, Police Commissioner William Bratton said.

Speaking during an interview Sunday on the John Catsimatidis AM 970 radio show, Mr. Bratton said the city has reorganized its law enforcement efforts amid a noticeable shift towards cybercrime.

“We’re seeing many of our gangs here in New York … turning away from dealing with drugs and other types of crime, and focusing on getting very adept at cyber-related crime — the false identification cards, credit cards,” Mr. Bratton said, the New York Daily News reported.

To combat the increase in local cybercrime, Mr. Bratton said he’s created a 250-person unit within the NYPD specifically geared towards combating crimes such as identity theft, ATM skimming and credit card fraud, the Daily News reported.

“We are seeing a phenomenal growth in that area,” Mr. Bratton said.

Modern technology has been beneficial and problematic for law enforcement, he said.

“The social media explosion has been both a boon and a bust for law enforcement,” Mr. Bratton told Mr. Catsimatidis. “A boon that we have a lot more sources of intelligence to create our cases, but a bust in the sense that the push by the phone companies and the software technology companies to increasingly make phones more secure — it’s really causing us to go blind.”

In an op-ed earlier this month, Cyrus Vance Jr., New York County’s District Attorney for Manhattan, said that law enforcement agencies from coast to coast have lawfully seized more than 1,000 smartphones that authorities have been unable to recover evidence from due to security measures put in place by companies such as Apple and Google.

In Manhattan, investigators have amassed 230 Apple devices during the past 18 months that can’t be unlocked, Mr. Vance wrote in an editorial co-authored by the district attorneys for Los Angeles and San Diego counties.

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