Many believe that police can't stem the drug trade, that the war on drugs is futile. Take out the head and someone else takes his place. Quick won't dispute this. But he says police have zeroed in on dealers whose arrests will make an impact, and the proof is in the results.
Gardnel Carter, an ex-con who works with the violence intervention program called Safe Streets in nearby McElderry Park, says he hears from people on the street that drug sales have been hit by the economy and that some are taking note of recent high-impact prosecutions.
"The streets say the drugs ain't the same no more," Carter said. "Everybody can't get their hands on drugs readily, and then the stuff is being marked sky high – they can't afford it."
During a two-hour tour of the district, Quick's cell phone buzzes with officers telling him about the arrests of two of the district's known troublemakers. One of them, undeterred by a shooting that left him in a wheelchair, is suspected to be dealing drugs in the Broadway East neighborhood.
The man was on the district's "violent repeat offender" list and had recently been cited for a traffic charge. Police alerted his probation agent, triggering a violation and his arrest.
Asked about a reputed head of a drug organization slated to be released from federal prison this month, Quick knows all about him, and drives to the address where authorities expect the man to take up residence.
Fewer shootings and killings equals more time to do proactive police work, officials say. It allows them to focus on the quality of life crimes that, in most neighborhoods, are the chief complaint of residents. Quick said he's putting together a plan to address vehicles larcenies, which he admits wouldn't have been the topic of much discussion in prior years.
Quick knows there are critics who question the city's progress.
"I guess the proof will be in the pudding," he said. "If we shoot back up, well, then people can say it's a fluke, but clearly the trend line is going in the right direction."
Sun reporters Michael Dresser and Steve Kilar contributed to this article.
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