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NYPD newbies pull their triggers
July 26, 2006
Cops have fired more than 50 bullets in the last 10 days - wounding at least three people and killing two dogs in a spate of separate incidents.

Most of the cops involved in the seven shootings dating back to July 16 have less than two years on the force - including the Brooklyn cop who wounded Robert Ramirez, 28, after he allegedly bashed the cop with a child's scooter late Monday.

"That's not unusual," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday, referring to the proportion of rookies involved in shootings. "Those are the cops who are out on the streets."

Kelly said the NYPD has hired 13,000 cops since 2002 and has assigned many of them to patrol bureaus. They often work at night in high-crime areas.

But some veteran cops said they are uncomfortable with the rookies' assignments, arguing their inexperience could be dangerous in tough neighborhoods.

"The problem is that we have all these raw kids out on the streets," said a city cop with 22 years on job. "Experienced officers know how to handle situations so they don't have to fire [their guns]."

The number of shots fired by cops is down 22% so far this year. The number of officers involved in shootings also is down 16%. In 2005, cops fired 616 shots - a startling 75% increase from 352 shots fired in the previous year.

But NYPD officials called the number of shots fired in 2005 - the highest since 1999 - a statistical blip, fueled in part by a Sept. 28 shooting in Harlem where six cops fired 77 bullets at a gunman, hitting him three times.

Maki Haberfeld, who heads the department of law and police science at John Jay College, agreed, saying: "This is statistically insignificant. There are 37,000 cops here."