Serious crime in New York City dropped 5.4 percent last year compared with 2016, according to the latest NYPD statistics, capping 12 months of declines in almost every major felony except for rape, with four more reported, an increase of less than half a percent.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill are scheduled to discuss the year-end crime data at a news conference Thursday, an event that will likely be highlighted by a number of superlatives: the lowest number of major felonies in the modern era of police record keeping, as well as 790 shootings, the fewest in recorded city history.
The city had 290 killings, a 13.4-percent drop from 2016, and a fraction of the body count in 1990 when there were 2,245 homicides.
Eleven precincts — five in Manhattan, two in Brooklyn, three in Queens and one in Staten Island — reported no homicides in 2017. The 67th Precinct, which covers the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, had the most homicides with 17, compared to 14 in 2016.
“You are living a continuous New York miracle,” Richard Aborn, head of the Citizens Crime Commission, said recently. “Crime continues to plummet, plummet at a time with the lowest number of stops [and frisks], far fewer arrests, decriminalization of a number of offenses, far fewer people in Rikers Island and far fewer in state prisons.”
O’Neill and his staff have in the past attributed the continuing crime drop to “precision” policing against key offenders, anti-gang initiatives and aggressive gun cases. O’Neill also has said neighborhood policing, which is active in more than 50 of 77 precincts, opened up better communication between cops and communities. The police commissioner is expected to push the community policing concept in 2018 throughout the city, although the department has yet to release the results of public opinion polling about the practice.
Criminologists who study policing tactics said community relations approaches, which are much like the NYPD efforts, do lead to some improvement in the public’s view of policing in the short term. But there is little research about any long-term impacts, they note.
Serious crime — including rapes, burglaries, felonious assaults, grand larcenies and auto theft — has remained in a period of decline for more than two decades, particularly after 1994, when the NYPD initiated the Compstat system of computerized crime tracking.
The increase in rapes in 2017 is believed by some experts to be the result of victims reporting attacks from prior years, possibly as a result of recent headlines about celebrity sexual harassment and rapes.
Historical comparisons for the city homicide rate are complicated by the fact that over the years, the NYPD methodology of counting them differed until the early 1960s, police officials said. But the current figure of 290 killings is the lowest in the Compstat era.
The homicide rate in 2017 was 3.4 for each 100,000 population: It was about 30.6 in 1990.