Crime took a sharp decline across the five boroughs in February — compared to the same month in 2022 — and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell sat down at One Police Plaza on Friday to discuss the drop.
According to the newly released crime stats, overall major crime including murders fell 5.6%, from 9,304 in February 2022 to 8,785 in February 2023. Police reported that major areas of concern such as racially motivated crimes, shootings, and subway offenses have also seen a significant decrease.
Hate crimes also plunged year-over-year in February by 69%, from 86 to 27, and citywide shootings also fell by 14.7%, the NYPD reported.
Overall subway index crime for the year to date is down by 19.4% so far this year, from 391 to 315, compared to the first two months last year.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell attributed the decline to the work of her officers. For instance, Sewell said subway crime dropped after officers flooded the transit system following the October launch of the mayor and governor’s Subway Safety Plan, which involved funding 1,200 NYPD overtime shifts each day to beef up patrols.
She said the extra cops, and their increased visibility, made a large impact.
“With the generosity of Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams when we started the plan back in October to be able to surge more officers into the system, we’ve been able to do that with other bureaus that we are putting down into the transit system as well, which really began in February of last year,” Sewell told amNewYork Metro.
Crime in the subway system has been big concern for New Yorkers, and there are signs that it is abating. Major crimes in the transit system in February dropped 9.1%, compared to the same month a year ago.
Sewell said that since October there has been a 43% increase in station inspections. Furthermore, there has also been an attempt to draw straphangers’ attention to the location of each Transit District headquarters; the Transit Districts are specifically responsible for patrolling the subways.
The NYPD is doing this via train conductor announcements and by redesigning the outside of each headquarters themselves.
“We also recognized that some people didn’t know exactly where their transit district was. So, the announcements on the train telling people where the Transit District is and that you’re pulling into a station where there is a transit district and there are officers on the train. I had gone into transit one day and I recognized that we have these bike racks and they’re pretty utilitarian. So, I walked right past and did not realize that this is a police station. So, we ordered these covers for the bike racks that actually announced that this is a police station so people can see it. It’s a little more user friendly,” Sewell said as amNewYork Metro continued to inquire about the widely talked about subway system safety.
In terms of overall crime, the NYPD has seen a drop in several categories.
Compared to February 2022, the NYPD’s efforts have seen robberies drop by 10.5% this year (it decreased in 42 of the 77 precincts, comprising 14 Manhattan and 8 Bronx precincts). This includes a significant drop reported in public housing and transit.
The city has also seen a steep reduction in shootings in sections of the Bronx, Queens and Northern Manhattan overall by 14.7%, from 74 to 64. Consequently, this decline has lowered the number of gun violence victims by 2.4%, from 84 to 82, and murders dropped by 27.8%, from 36 to 26. This year the NYPD has seized 1,125 illegal firearms, which is a 1.3% increase from February 2022 when 1,111 firearms were seized.
Despite the strides made, Commissioner Sewell candidly spoke about problem areas in which she and the department are keeping a keen eye on.
“Right now, Queens North is a bit of a concern of ours at this time. We have some robbery patterns in that area, we have some larcenies in the areas that are troubling for us as well. We are deploying some of our Field Training Unit to these areas to be able to have boots on the ground and our DB is doing a great job of actually identifying these patterns and going after these crews aggressively to be able to hold them accountable,” Sewell said, revealing that she is also putting additional resources to deal with store owners who are facing robberies and thefts.
Sewell also commended the NYPD intelligence-based crime reduction strategies for helping to scale down major crimes in housing by 5.2%, from 459 to 435 in February 2023 which also includes a 31% drop in public housing shootings (13 to 9), and robberies declined by 11.8% (85 to 75).
With citywide crime on the decline, NYPD underscored the increase of index crime arrests by 8.9%, from 3,498 to 3,811. This number, the police said, was higher than nearly a quarter-century ago, which included arrests for the most serious offenses in the five boroughs.
Sewell added that the decline in crime should especially be highlighted after such a warm winter, since with hotter temperatures usually comes with hotter temperaments and more shootings.
“The storm wasn’t as heavy as we expected it to be. I think the weather is a factor, but we have to deploy around the weather. So, it’s been a very mild winter, which probably attributed to some of the numbers that we were seeing in other crimes over the year. But we’re hoping we can take advantage of the time that we have to drive down the numbers for the rest of the season,” Sewell said.