The big drop in stop and frisk encounters by police has not contributed to a rise in shootings, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said Tuesday, indicating the increase is just something that happens with crime.
Asked why he believed the drop in stops -- down 89 percent last quarter compared with the same period in 2013 -- hasn't significantly impacted the shooting level, Bratton pointed to crime trends, explaining "that overall crime is down."
"We have had an increase, the temporary increase in shooting . . . crime goes up, it goes down. It will always go up at some point," Bratton said as he spoke with reporters after the annual NYPD medal ceremony.
Richard Rosenfeld, criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said it isn't unusual for shootings and homicide numbers to differ over the short term, as they are in the city now, with homicides trending 15 percent lower.
Bratton also said police have been concerned about the lack of cooperation they get from shooting victims and what he called soft sentences given to people convicted in gun-possession cases.
"There are some cases where sentencing of individuals carrying a gun is not significant enough, in the sense that they are not doing the mandatories [sentences]," Bratton said without elaborating.
But some legal and law enforcement sources questioned his claim, saying second-degree gun-possession sentences in the city have become much tougher, with mandatory sentences routinely being handed down at 3 1/2 to 5 years. Plea bargains down to next lower level result in 2-year terms, said Brooklyn defense attorney James DiPietro.
Bratton called the 10.7 percent increase in shootings through Sunday a "spike," but a review of NYPD statistics showed that the rise has been steady since late March. Through June 8, there have been 434 shooting incidents, compared with 392 the same time last year. The number of people injured in shootings increased 13.2 percent, from 448 to 507.
While police solve about 86 percent of homicides, Bratton and his aides acknowledge that a large portion of nonfatal shooting victims won't cooperate with police. Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told reporters that about 30 percent of those cases initially are solved.
"It is fascinating in this city how many people who are shot and won't cooperate with the police," Bratton said.
Earlier, Bratton gave out distinguished-service medals to 12 families of officers who died from injuries attribute to Sept. 11, 2001. Four officers from Long Island were among them: detectives John F. Kristoffersen, Traci L. Tack-Czajkowski, Tommy L. Merriweather and police officer Francis T. Pitone.