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Violent crime statistics in NYC show a year-over-year drop

The New York Police Department's preliminarily report shows 753 shootings in 2018 compared with 787 in 2017. Homicides totaled 289 compared with 292 in 2017.

New York City in 2018 continued to hit

New York City in 2018 continued to hit new lows in violence, dropping a whisker below 2017's low mark for homicides. Photo Credit: Jim Staubitser

New York City in 2018 continued to hit new lows in violence, beating the record for the fewest shootings and dropping a whisker below 2017’s low mark for homicides.

By late Monday evening, the NYPD preliminarily reported 753 shootings, compared with 787 at the same time in 2017, which had been the record in the modern era of police record-keeping. Homicides totaled 289, compared with 292 in 2017, a record, although two incidents could still be added to the final 2018 total.

Overall, serious crimes were down 1.4 percent to 95,509, also a historic low. There were upticks of 22 percent in rapes and just under 1 percent in grand larcenies, the only increases in 2018.

“The news continues to be quite good,” said Richard Aborn, president of the Citizens Crime Commission. “The NYPD has a formula, and it's relentlessly applying the formula and beating expectations.”

“It is a combination of not only everything we are doing but the help we are getting from the feds, the help we are getting from local prosecutors, the help we get from U.S. attorneys' offices,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said in an interview with Newsday just before the end of the year.

Homicide and shooting numbers can be driven down even further, O’Neill believes. But he is worried about the proposed legalization of marijuana in New York State and the fact that it might contribute to an uptick in crimes and traffic fatalities.

“I am concerned,” O’Neill said. “We have done a lot of research. We have sent people to Colorado ... we sent people to Los Angeles. LA, I think has an uptick in marijuana-related violence, [and] Colorado has got an increase in traffic fatalities due to being under the influence of marijuana.”

But while he is apprehensive about marijuana, O’Neill and the rest of the NYPD brass is basking in another year of serious crime declines. O’Neill and other experts believe the city’s anti-gang initiatives, along with a focus on a small group of hard-core offenders and violence abatement programs, have contributed to the continuing declines. By teaming with nonprofit organizations, the NYPD has been able to provide alternatives to violent lifestyles by intervening in the lives of youths who are at risk, Aborn said.

Another contributor to the decline in shootings is the aggressive action against guns, something underscored by almost weekly roundups of gangs in crime hot spots in the city. The 753 shootings reported in 2018 was a drop of just over 4 percent from 2017.

“Getting guns off the streets is paying off,” Aborn said. “People are beginning to get the message that carrying a gun is a radioactive event in New York [and] you are going to end up in jail."

O’Neill also believes his Neighborhood Policing strategy, introduced in 2015 and aimed at engaging cops with communities, has helped reduce crime. But criminologist David Weisburd, who holds academic posts at both George Mason University in Virginia and Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said it is too early to say if the strategy contributes to the recent drop in felonies.

“There is very little evidence that those programs have a short-term impact on crime; they may have a long-term impact," Weisburd said.

O’Neill believes Neighborhood Policing is helping to rebuild trust between cops and communities after the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk tactics. Weisburd agreed with O’Neill on that point and hopes that rebuilt trust will benefit police down the road.

Combined with focused, hot-spot policing, police engagement with communities as advocated by the NYPD may be a way of effective crime-fighting, Weisburd said.

“If they go to places of crime and talk to citizens and see what is going on, then it may have an impact,” Weisburd said.

For the foreseeable future, the Neighborhood Policing strategy is the wave of the future for O’Neill, something new police officers will know as the new normal.

“I think it is an important component, and as we move through the years it will be even more effective,” O’Neill predicted about Neighborhood Policing.

New York City Crime Statistics for 2018 (Preliminary)

Crime Category…………2018………..2017………Change

Homicides…………………..289…………292…………..-1.7 percent *

Rapes…………………………1,788………1,466………..+22 percent

Robbery……………………..12,856…….13,956……….-7.9 percent

Felony Assaults………….20,102………20,102…………..N/C

Burglary……………………..11,630……….12,122……….-4.1 percent

Grand Larceny……………..43,422………..43,257………+0.4 percent

Grand Larceny Auto……5,424……………5,650…………-4.0 percent

Overall……………………….. 95,509………..96,845………..-1.4 percent

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Shootings………………………….753…………..787……………. -4.4 percent*

Note:  * Indicates data through late Dec. 31. All other figures through Dec. 30.

Source: NYPD

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