Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday the small drop in violent crime throughout the city reflects the expansion of neighborhood policing strategies.
Overall, crime is down almost 1 percent so far this year, compared to the same time last year, he said. And while this is on par with past months, July stood out because every borough had a decrease in overall major crime, said Dermot Shea, deputy commissioner of operations.
At the same time, de Blasio said there have been 11,000 fewer arrests in the first seven months of 2016 compared to last year.
The NYPD ramped up its community policing efforts this week with the expansion of its Neighborhood Coordination Officers program, which aims to post the same officers in the same areas every day.
“This is a police force that’s using its talent more effectively all of the time,” de Blasio said, speaking inside the Jack Maple CompStat Center in police headquarters. Thursday was the 15th anniversary of Maple’s death, who created and implemented the CompStat system. “And that’s why you see these numbers continue to improve.”
There have also been 20 percent (or 131) fewer shooting incidents so far this year compared to 2015, and about 4 percent fewer homicides.
July did have a few crime categories that were up, including rape, which increased by 2 percent, or three incidents, from July 2015.
“It is not a good time right now to be a criminal or a gang member in New York City,” Shea said. “If you carry a gun in New York City, there’s going to be a hefty price.”
De Blasio said he knows there “is a lot more to do” and one shooting is too many, but believes the neighborhood policing efforts — hand-in-hand with the gang takedowns the city has orchestrated — will help the department police more effectively.
“Think of it in terms of intelligence gathering,” he said. “When our officers know about a problem before it fully manifests, when a neighbor tells them where a gun may be, where an illegal social club may be, when they talk about a potential gang retaliation before it happens — when our officers are empowered with that information, they stop crime before it ever happens.”
Chief of Department James O’Neill, who this week was named as the next police commissioner, said the numbers are reflective of “precision policing.”
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said over the years the department has “controlled behavior to such an extent we changed it” for both minor and serious crimes. Arrests in total may have gone down, he said, but arrests for serious crimes have increased.
“We’re also reflective of the fact that the city is a much safer place: we don’t need to issue as many summonses, we certainly don’t need to do as many stops,” Bratton said. “This is simple. This is not rocket science to understand. It is a specific policy of this department to try to reduce arrests because we don’t have to make as many. If I can tell somebody to get off the corner, stop lying on the bench, or get your feet off the subway seat, let’s try that first before we go to a summons or before we go to an arrest.”
Correction: A previous version of this story stated there were 139 fewer shootings in 2016, compared to 2015. The correct number is 131.