Despite murder surge, NYPD set to end 2020 with slight overall crime decrease

Officers from the 79 Precinct talk at the scene of a fatal shooting on Dec. 30, 2020 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

When gun violence ran rampant across New York during the summer of 2020, some wondered whether the “bad old days” of crime had returned. But the most recent NYPD data indicated that the situation in New York is not nearly as bleak as some might see it.

Going into the final few days of 2020, the NYPD reported through its CompStat tracking data a combined decrease of about 1% in its seven most serious felonies — murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny auto (auto theft). 

The NYPD is expected to provide a full report on 2020 crime data early in the new year.

Homicides, burglaries and auto thefts surged dramatically in 2020 to numbers not seen in about a decade. But decreases in grand larcenies, rapes, robberies and felony assaults powered the NYPD to a slightly lower tally in major crimes this year.

Data source: New York Police Department

Through Dec. 27, the NYPD tallied 447 murders in 2020; that’s a 41% increase from the 317 homicides recorded by that same point in 2019.

As the murder rate rises, so does the shooting rate in New York. Shootings have nearly doubled in 2020 from the previous year, with 1,602 such incidents recorded as of Dec. 27. That’s 799 more than the 803 shootings tallied at this point in 2019.

The spring and summer months were especially bullet-riddled in New York. The Fourth of July weekend saw more than three dozen people injured or killed in shootings. Nearly 500 shootings occurred in the months of July and August, and the city has seen at least 100 shootings each month since.

Throughout the year, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, along with top NYPD officials and advocates, have cited a litany of factors that they believe have caused the shooting and murder surges, as well as other crime increases. They include the new bail reform laws enacted earlier in 2020 that, NYPD leaders claimed, caused many repeat offenders to wind up back on the streets more quickly; court delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and a surge in gang activity.

The NYPD, which also had some of its funding shifted away amid calls to end racial injustice and inequality in New York, shifted tactics and attacked gun crime harder in the second half of the year. Gun arrests grew over the last six months of 2020, with a record numbers of arrests made in September.

And while some critics of the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio charged that murder and crime rates haven’t been this bad in nearly 30 years, the actual NYPD data tells a far different story.

The 447 homicides in 2020 represent nearly a fifth of the 2,262 murders tallied in New York in 1990, the deadliest year on record. The 2020 total is also down about 31% from the 649 murders recorded nearly two decades ago, in 2001. 

Through Dec. 27, there were 94,221 total major felonies in New York in 2020. To put things in perspective, the NYPD tallied 527,257 major felonies in 1990 and 162,064 major crimes in 2001.

Through a spokesperson, the NYPD declined to comment Thursday on the story. The NYPD will announce a year-end report in early 2021.