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Police Commissioner Dermot Shea was once again a no-show at a press conference held by Mayor Bill de Blasio and focused on crimefighting where reporters peppered Hizzoner with questions over his administration’s handling of the Big Apple’s deadly shooting surge — and his top cop’s glaring absence.
And the embattled, $243,000-a-year NYPD head was later shielded by his staff as he fled out the back door at an awards banquet, dodging a group of reporters assembled to ask him about the mounting bloodshed in the five boroughs.
There have been more than 400 shootings in New York City since Shea last took questions in March, records show — and the pace shows no signs of abating.
That includes 150 shootings between May 3 and May 30, the most recent four-week period for which comparable figures are available. It’s a staggering 164 percent increase from the 57 reported over the same time period in 2019 and a massive jump from the 91 reported in 2020.
When repeatedly pressed by reporters about Shea’s no-show act amid the tsunami of trigger play, de Blasio claimed the matter amounted to little more than “inside baseball.”
“People can ask questions in the negative, I’m going to answer in the positive,” Hizzoner said. “I think this is a little inside baseball, with all due respect.”
“We are doing what we’ve got to do to set the strategies in place to get past this really tough moment in our city’s history — and we will overcome it,” he added.
De Blasio made the remarks as he and one of Shea’s aides, Deputy Commissioner John Miller, rolled out what they claimed was a new “first in the nation” partnership with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to get more guns off the street.
But they were forced to eventually concede that most of what was announced Tuesday had existed for years.
“We’re doing something we’ve been doing for a long time, we’re just doing it much better,” Miller eventually answered under questioning from reporters.
Shea ostensibly skipped the daily press briefing to attend a luncheon for the New York City Police Foundation at 1 Police Plaza.
Reporters gathered outside the event in an attempt to ask Shea questions, but his staff whisked him out a back door in plain view of the press.
Meanwhile, cops are fuming about City Hall’s Tuesday rollout with the ATF, police sources said, describing the announcement of the get-guns-off-the-streets program as nothing more than putting a new coat of paint on the NYPD’s existing relationship with the feds.
“It happens already,” said one. “Information being exchanged is common practice.”
During the press conference, the mayor also reiterated his months-old prescription for tackling the gun violence — including putting 1,400 newly graduated cops on the beat.
“It’s all smoke and mirrors like yesterday,” said a second. “De Blasio can’t blame COVID and his perfect storm anymore.”
“Next they will announce a new program called ‘community policing,’” the person added. “The truth is crime is out of control, these cops feel they have their hands tied and feel no one in City Hall will back them.”
Pressure mounted further this week for de Blasio to do more as Gotham’s gunplay epidemic claimed the life of adorable 10-year-old Justin Wallace in Far Rockaway, Queens, over the weekend, in a caught-on-tape shooting that horrified the city.
Justin’s father has said publicly he suspects the shooting is linked to a long-running dispute between the family and neighbors over a shared driveway. However, police sources told The Post the motive remained unclear and there have been no arrests yet.
Over the last two days, de Blasio has responded to the growing cries for action by once again highlighting a 28 percent increase in gun seizures and reintroducing several initiatives that City Hall rolled out months ago to combat the shooting crisis — all to apparently little effect.
Shea’s absence from those efforts has been conspicuous, especially as Hizzoner conceded Monday the city was likely in for a deadly summer.
“For the rest of the year, we’re going to be dealing with a major challenge,” he said, with no one from the Police Department on the dais Monday.
A review of records and calendars by The Post shows that Shea has not taken questions from either the City Hall or police press corps since March 12, despite the spate of violence.
Representatives for the Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In response to questions, City Hall press secretary Bill Neidhardt said the luncheon had been planned for months.
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