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Spike in shootings a concern despite crime drop, NYPD chief says

NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan

NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan Photo Credit: Howard Simmons

In the face of continuing declines in serious crimes, the NYPD is still grappling with a spike in shootings in parts of Queens and Brooklyn, said the department’s top uniformed commander.

Shooting trends for 2019 in those boroughs is driving the NYPD to shift more resources to gang hot spots and operations to get guns off the street, Chief of Department Terence Monahan said Tuesday in an interview with Newsday.

Monahan spoke about shooting trends a day before he and Commissioner James O’Neill were scheduled to talk about the crime situation in a briefing with reporters.

Overall homicides are down 4.2% in 2019 from 2018 while all serious crimes like burglary, rape and robbery have dropped a combined 3.7%. However, shootings were up 7.6% this year.

“There are going to be blips on that screen. You are going to have those episodic incidents that happen and they are going to happen in a city of this size,” Monahan said of the increase in shootings. “We focus on the gangs and the ones we can really understand as a retaliatory nature, to prevent them.”

The key trouble spot in the city continues to be the 75th Precinct that covers East New York, a command where shootings through Sunday have doubled, to 42 from 21 in the same time period in 2018, according to NYPD data. 

“They are coming up and they have got some gang issues going back and forth that are problematic,” said Monahan of the 75th precinct's spike in shootings.

Despite increased pressure on gangs, gun arrests and deployment of investigators to gang units, the 75th Precinct still remains an area of concern, he said. 

Meanwhile, three commands in Queens North, the 109, 110 and 115 precincts, have together tallied 19 shootings in 2019, compared to only two in all of 2018, according to Monahan. But unlike Brooklyn, the Queens increases come from shootings mostly unrelated to gangs and instead involve domestic disputes, bar fights and other incidents.

Despite the increases, crime statistics have to be kept in perspective, the chief said. In 2014, commanders hoped they could get under 1,000 shootings for the year. In 2018 and 2017, shootings citywide dropped under 800.

But Monahan and some other commanders remain apprehensive about 2020 because of the state’s new bail reform law that did away in most cases with cash bail and curtailed the ability of judges to consider danger to the community in bail decisions. This may have particular impact in drug arrests where defendants can be back on the street quickly, Monahan said. Since many of the shootings are drug related, the chief expressed concern about more shootings.

“We are facing strong head winds going into next year,” said Monahan. “2020 is going to be a tough year with all of the bail reform that is coming into play.”

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