Entering the final month of 2020, gun violence continues to rampage across New York City, with the NYPD reporting Friday yet another dramatic increase in shootings citywide during November.
Reported shootings increased by 112.5% year-over-year, with 115 shootings last month, compared to the 51 incidents that occurred in November 2019. That contributed to a near doubling of the shooting rate in New York through the first 11 months of 2020.
The murder rate also continues to increase; 28 people were slain in New York during November, five more than the November 2019 total. As of Nov. 30, the NYPD reported, New York City has seen 422 homicides, a 38.4% increase from the 305 recorded in 2019 — and the highest total since 2012, when 412 murders occurred.
The city’s on pace to have the highest homicide rate in nearly a decade, though that number will likely remain below 500; New York hasn’t seen more than 500 murders since 2011 (515).
Through Nov. 30, the NYPD tallied 1,412 shootings, a 95.8% increase from the 721 such incidents that occurred over the same period of time a year earlier.
Shootings rose in November 2020 even as the NYPD doubled down on its enforcement efforts and arrested more individuals for gun-related offenses. Police reported 484 gun arrests in November, a 112.3% increase year-over-year, and total gun arrests for 2020 are up 22.2%.
Even so, November brought some hope that the city might be turning a corner; it was the third straight month in which shootings substantially decreased.
The 115 shootings during November were down from the 137 shootings that occurred in October, and from the 152 incidents that occurred in September. The November total is more than half of the monthly figures during a particularly violent summer in New York; July had the peak number of shootings with 244, with August having just two fewer incidents (242).
Police officials said the focus in combating gun violence has been on building strong, “precision-driven” cases against gun criminals to ensure not only their arrest, but also their conviction.
During their investigations, the NYPD discovered what they called an “emerging trend”: 40% of those accused of a shooting have a prior arrest for a gun possession charge, while 21% of the shooting victims have a prior gun arrest record.
“Whatever the challenge, our NYPD officers have shown innovation and determination to get the job done this year,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “Our work to reimagine the kind of policing New Yorkers deserve is always evolving, in line with our agency’s best traditions to reflect the needs of everyone in our city.”
As for overall crime, the seven major felonies (murder, rape, robbery, burglary, assault, grand larceny, auto theft) held relatively flat in November. There were 8,160 such felonies reported in November 2020, up 0.6% from the 8,120 felonies reported at the same time last year.
Powering that slight increase were burglaries (1,303 offenses, up 41.3%) and auto thefts (929, a staggering 101.5% surge). Rapes increased slightly (122 cases in 2020 vs. 118 in 2019), while robberies, assaults and grand larcenies all fell.
Hate crimes have also dramatically fallen citywide, according to the NYPD. The department gave much of the credit for that toward the efforts of the Asian American Hate Crime Task Force, a special unit created this year in response to a surge in bias incidents against persons of Asian descent amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police reported that the special task force has already closed out 16 of 24 reported bias crimes against Asian individuals with arrests.