Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday introduced a specialized force of more than 200 police officers who will target gun violence in New York City, a key strategy of his public safety plan that he promised would reduce shootings while avoiding overly aggressive tactics that have tarnished similar efforts in the past.

The rollout of the new units known as Neighborhood Safety Teams began on Monday. It came as the city undergoes another week of unsettling violence.

Authorities on Tuesday arrested a man they say fatally shot two homeless men and injured three others in New York City and Washington, D.C. On the same day, police arrested a man accused of stabbing two employees at the Museum of Modern Art.

During a press conference at a police training center in Queens, Adams described the teams as “an elite group of men and women with specialized training and skill set to zero in on gun violence.”

Over time, the unit will grow to 400 officers.

“That is a new corner we are turning in policing and public safety,” the mayor said. “We're going to make sure we use the balance of public safety to do it right. We're going to engage with the public.”

The mayor also criticized the public for sometimes recording videos of officers during arrests, which he said hindered their ability to do their jobs effectively. There have been several instances of police misconduct over recent years that bystanders' mobile devices have captured and shared.

Adams called on the public to "stop being on top" of officers carrying out their jobs.

"If an officer is on the ground wrestling with someone that has a gun, they should not have to worry about someone standing over them with a camera," he said. "There's a proper way to police and there's a proper way to document."

Three months into office, Adams, a former NYPD police captain, has sought to address rising crime through a multi-pronged approach that includes investments in youth jobs, mental health outreach and targeted policing. But he has yet to win support from key Democratic lawmakers in Albany for his push to revise the state’s bail reform laws.

Alluding to those efforts on Wednesday, Adams said, “We're not going to get caught up in a politics of fighting crime, because it's not going to matter what laws are passed anywhere in this state. We're going to focus on our job.”

However, some experts, including former NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, have criticized the concept of specialized anti-gun units as an outdated and counterproductive policing tactic that has led to bad headlines and a cascade of lawsuits. In 2020, Shea disbanded the units after they were found to be involved in many shootings and creating tensions within communities they patrolled.

On Friday, community advocacy groups, including The Legal Aid Society, said they were planning to host a rally outside City Hall to protest racist policing practices and any increases to the NYPD budget. In a press release, the groups also cited the use of gang databases that law enforcement critics say are unreliable and misidentifies many men of color as gang members. They argue that the new unit is merely a rebranding.

Unlike that version, the new unit of officers will not be in plainclothes, but wear modified uniforms that make them identifiable as police officers to the public.

Appearing alongside the mayor, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the new unit would merge police intelligence with neighborhood-specific concerns.

Each unit consists of one sergeant and five police officers. They will cover the areas hardest-hit by gun violence, ramping up to 30 precincts and four housing commands, which cover public housing projects, officials said.

Training for the officers began in early February. NYPD Chief of Training Juanita Holmes said the seven-day intensive included lessons in “scenario-based constitutional policing, courtroom testimony, investigative encounters, car stop workshops” as well as community relations.

Police officials said officers were invited to volunteer but that applicants were accepted only after a thorough vetting that included a review of their disciplinary history and body camera footage.

The mayor delivered his remarks fresh off a trip to Miami, where he participated in a cryptocurrency conference. Since becoming mayor, Adams has been trying to attract cryptocurrency investors to New York City.

He has followed through on a promise to convert his first three paychecks into two digital currencies known as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Critics have said the industry, which is unregulated, carries unexamined risks for investors.

Adams’ one-day trip was paid for by taxpayers, according to a spokesman in the mayor’s office who described it as promoting the city’s interest. He would not immediately say how much the trip cost.