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Serious crime fell to record lows in March, NYPD says

Despite the drop, a spike in shootings and homicides in parts of north Brooklyn has prompted the NYPD to target 4 precincts for expanded gang enforcement.

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, left, and Mayor Bill

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, left, and Mayor Bill de Blasio, at a news conference in Brooklyn on Tuesday to discuss the department's latest crime statistics. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Serious crime in March dropped farther than ever for the month in the modern era of NYPD police record-keeping, pushing overall first quarter offenses in the city to record lows since the department began using the Compstat system in 1994, officials said Tuesday.

Reported offenses in the seven major felony categories — including homicide, rape, robberies and burglaries — all reported drops for March compared with the same period in 2018. 

Killings for the month were down 27.3 percent, rapes off by 3.8 percent, robbery dropped 6.7 percent and burglaries dipped 17.5 percent, according to the latest figures from the NYPD. Overall serious crimes were off 6.2 percent from the same month last year. Transit and housing crimes were also down in March by 5.5 percent and .8 percent, according to the latest data.

For the first quarter, overall crime was down 7.3 percent compared to 2018, but with spikes in homicides of nine percent, rapes at 38 percent, and shootings up nine percent.

A problem area for city crime continues to be parts of north Brooklyn. A spike in shootings and homicides in the borough's northern area has prompted the NYPD to target four precincts for expanded gang enforcement, domestic violence investigations and others preemptive actions. Those precincts are the 34th in upper Manhattan, the 43rd in the Bronx, the 79th in Brooklyn and the 113th in Queens.

“Forty-six percent of all shootings which happen in the city in the month of March occurred in the borough of Brooklyn, 39 percent of those shootings happened within Brooklyn north, “ said Chief of Department Terence Monahan at the monthly crime briefing for reporters also attended by Police Commissioner James O'Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio.  “When we look at Brooklyn north during the month, they are up 86 percent in the amount of gun arrests … made within this borough.”

Monahan said the NYPD has consulted with Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez to get increased cooperation on gun cases. Monahan said the effort has worked “very well.”

Suspects charged for gun-related crimes "are being prosecuted and they are being indicted,” he said.

But in some cases, Monahan said, even those gun defendants facing prosecution are making bail and getting into further trouble while out on the street.  One defendant not only sparked retaliatory shootings but was arrested in a stolen car, Monahan said.

Asked if there was a bail issue in the courts that makes the jobs of cops on the street more difficult, O’Neill would only say that police and prosecutors are working together on the issue.

“A judge acts individually, there is no oversight," Monahan said. "They have the ability to make a decision on their own, certain [judges] may rule one way, others may rule another,” Monahan later said, which prompted de Blasio to say that state officials control the courts before agreeing that Monahan’s comment was well taken.

De Blasio said the city is backing a move to have judges consider the potential danger of a defendant instead of just whether they are a flight risk, when deciding whether to grant bail.

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