After a well-publicized surge earlier this year, stabbings and slashings in New York City are down and NYPD officials believe the department’s focus on social clubs — long a flash point for violence — may have contributed to the reduction.
But while slashings and stabbings have abated, they are still up by 8.6 percent from the same time period in 2015, according to the NYPD’s latest crime data, which also showed marijuana arrests spiking by more than 23 percent this year compared to January through July of 2015.
Officials were uncertain why pot busts are up by so much but said one explanation could be confusion among the public about the NYPD’s 2014 change on enforcement of marijuana laws.
The department shift gave officers the discretion to issue summonses to offenders instead of arresting them if they are found with 25 grams or less of marijuana — about enough to fill a plastic sandwich bag.
So far this year, misdemeanor marijuana arrests through early Wednesday have numbered 10,623, compared with 8,602 in 2015.
“It is still against the law, I’m not giving get out of jail free cards,” NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said when he announced the policy shift.
NYPD officials said that despite reporting 2,598 stabbings and slashings so far this year compared to 2,392 at the same time in 2015, they have fallen from earlier in 2016 when a series of violent and sometimes random attacks in subways and city shelter facilities jolted the city.
“We were seeing much of it up in the Bronx,” said NYPD chief of detectives Robert Boyce Thursday of the wave of violence.
Boyce said that as cops waged a successful campaign this year to drive down shootings by 20 percent and homicides by eight percent, more effort and analysis was put into the stabbings and slashings.
Data on the attacks showed that many occurred in and around social and nightclubs, generally in the early morning hours when the venues are closing, he said.
To curtail the violence, police officers have been visiting the clubs to monitor activity as crowds leave, Boyce said.
However, with 27 percent of stabbings and slashings occurring in what the NYPD described as “domestic” situations, Boyce acknowledged the difficulty cops face trying to defuse them. Domestic violence calls are often unpredictable and indoors, Boyce said, and sometimes officers aren’t able to prevent attacks.
The number of household items that could be used as weapons in a domestic attack also makes it difficult for cops to combat them, officials said.
Earlier this year, the NYPD’s Chief of Department James O’Neill said 62 percent of stabbings and slashings occurred indoors and were not visible to cops.
In one of the latest examples of a domestic slashing, police arrested a retired NYPD lieutenant on Staten Island after officials said he sliced his ex-wife’s neck late Wednesday during an argument over their children. The woman was treated and released and her former spouse was charged with misdemeanor assault.