The number of homicides in New York City this year has continued to decline, even as some other major U.S. cities, notably Chicago, experience large increases, according to the latest law enforcement data.
Through the early morning hours Wednesday, New York City has logged 127 homicides in 2016, down 13 percent from 146 a year earlier — a drop of 13 percent, with shootings also down nearly 22 percent, the latest NYPD statistics show.
Recent crime trends, which include a decrease in serious felonies by a fraction of a percentage point, are scheduled to be discussed by NYPD brass Thursday in a monthly briefing with reporters. First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker with lead the briefing because Commissioner William Bratton is on vacation.
Law enforcement officials and criminologists noted earlier this year that New York City appeared to be bucking the trend of other major American cities regarding homicides. While some cities, notably Houston, have seen declines in killings, the percentage is much smaller than what New York is experiencing.
“I don’t understand New York,” noted criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis said. “New York has not responded in the way most large cities have.”
Rosenfeld recently completed a study of homicides in 56 of the nation’s largest cities. He won’t be able to release detailed findings until later this month, but said overall those American cities had a 17 percent increase in homicides in 2015 from the prior year.
Noting that New York experienced a slight increase in homicides last year, it was nothing like what most other metropolitan areas had, some with increases of 90 percent.
Privately, some police officials in the NYPD said recent gang offensives may have had an impact in New York on killings and shootings.
Rosenfeld suggested the abrupt increase in homicides last year in many American cities might relate to the highly publicized incidents of police use of force. But he also said that explanation leaves New York a puzzle because the first of those major police use-of-force cases involved Eric Garner, who in July 2014 died of a suspected choke hold by police on Staten Island.
Some pundits have talked about the so-called Ferguson Effect — a reluctance by police to do proactive policing after the riots seen in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 following the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police. Rosenfeld said he doesn’t necessarily agree with that theory. Rather, he said, communities with long standing grievances against police might get activated and either decide not to call police or take matters into their own hands.