Major crimes fell across New York City during August, police officials reported at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press briefing.
The city had started off this year fighting an increased number of shootings, and by the time May was over, the NYPD was preparing for a challenging summer when it came to crime. But as Police Commissioner Dermot Shea reported on Sept. 7, things took a turn for the better.
From July to August, NYPD reported that shootings went down from 250 to 167, a 30% decrease.
“The expectation is that when we finish this year, we’re going to string together month after month of reducing shootings. That’s our task in front of us and I firmly believe we’re going to accomplish that,” Shea said.
The overall index of crime, which measures all major crimes like grand larceny, declined by 5.4% in August, powered largely by a major decrease in burglaries. There was also a small decrease in murder and robbery and a 24% drop in burglary.
“Even with all the challenges, a global pandemic and everything else, we’re fighting back,” said NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison, who joined the commissioner in commending officers for their work.
The two officials, and de Blasio, acknowledged there is a long way to go when it comes to public safety. The NYPD reported a strong increase in hate crimes, especially those targeting Asian and Muslim people, and residents with different sexual orientations.
Shootings have decreased everywhere except for Staten Island, and the Bronx is having challenges in that area as well.
Harrison said having an incomplete court system is setting them back.
“It’s a small number of people who commit the crimes and cause violence,” Harrison said. “They need to know they will be held accountable. That’s why we’re also passionate about bringing the court system back fully, for all crimes.”
De Blasio talked up his Safe Summer NYC initiative, and specifically the network of violence interrupters, which was expanded earlier this year to address gun violence.
“This is playing a bigger and bigger role. That’s why we tripled the funding, so those violence interrupters can be more and more places,” de Blasio said.
Though the program has received considerable criticism, Richard Aborn, president of the nonpartisan Citizens Crime Commission, said that New York is becoming a leader in interagency and community approaches.
“They are proving that precision policing works. That is focusing on those drivers of violence and not needing to engage what are called mass arrests,” Aborn said.
Aborn reflected Harrison’s sentiments about the courts and spoke about “rapid adjudication” and ramping up the court system so that they can return accountability to the city.
Shea added, “There are a lot, a lot of gun arrests that are waiting to be adjudicated in the criminal justice system.”
The NYPD has made more than 3,000 gun arrests to date, de Blasio and police officials reported.
According to an NYPD press release, the court system is currently trying to expand its capacity.