Overall crime in New York City jumped 17% this month, mainly due to a 28.8% increase in shooting, burglaries, assaults and grand larcenies including auto theft, police officials say.
Commissioner Dermot Shea maintains that bail reform may have contributed to the rise in crime and they were changing strategies to deal with it. The commissioner was outspoken on bail reform recently, saying it has gone too far.
However, some major indexes dropped including hate crimes which decreased by 24 percent, homicides are down 20.7 percent from last year – after last year’s increase in those crimes caused alarm among law enforcement officials. Rape reports have also dropped just over 28 percent this month with 127 cases reported compared with 155 last year – though officials believe this crime has been historically under reported by victims.
Transit crimes are also on the rise with 261 serious crimes reported for January of this year. Compared to 201 last year, this marks a nearly 30 percent increase over the year before.
Chief of Transit Edward Dellatore said much of the increase in transit crime was attributed to an increase in robberies in Brooklyn North, “mostly small groups preying on other young people.” He said many of these groups have been apprehended and he expects transit crime to drop in the next month.
Graffiti has also become an issue on the trains, though he said the large scale graffiti vandalism has dropped significantly as they have made arrests in transit yards, where many of these crimes occur. Commissioner Dermot Shea said many of the graffiti incidents are being committed by “tourists who come here, some of them grown people – though a few are from the city.”
The stats also revealed an increase in domestic violence, including the murder of a young child. Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LePetri, said three domestic violence victims were shot, two were stabbed, and one asphyxiated.
Contributing to the increase in crime, LiPetri said, was grand larceny and car theft. Officials say many of the car thefts were because victims either left keys in the car, left the car running, or left key fobs in the car, allowing the vehicle to be started without a key.
Shea has blamed the uptick in crime partially on bail reform, and has been critical in published reports in the past few weeks. Officials said parolees and those on probation have been committing a large number of the crimes, but Shea said those out on bail are part of the problem and he called for allowing judges to have more discretion when granting bail or no bail at all. He said he stands by his position that bail reform has gone too far.
“I stand by my comments on bail reform, and while I favored reforms, there has been a dramatic increase in crime by people who are being let out of Rikers Island – and we will deal with that,” Shea said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he does see a correlation of increase in crime due to bail reform, but he said they are working closely with advocates in Albany to tighten the law so that people who present a danger to the public will remain behind bars. However, “we should be drawing conclusions.”
“We have raised concerns about the current bail reform and we are now having a dialog in Albany about any changes, but our police officers can handle anything that is thrown at them,” de Blasio said. “Law enforcement professionals think reform principals make an even playing field for everyone, but we are asking for pullback to be considered.”
“The bail laws had a disparate effect on people of color and this create a contradiction in a bail law based on money,” de Blasio said. “Bail should be based on flight risk and the threat to the community.”
But Mayor Bill de Blasio maintained that despite the new numbers, “New York City is the safest city in America and the NYPD is the greatest police force in the world.”
Shea was especially critical of protestors on Friday, who he said “represented only a handful of people in a city of 8.6 million.” He called the protestors a ‘bunch of knuckleheads.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed support for the NYPD and said the protestors were committing acts of vandalism in the transit system and on the street, lighting fires in trash bins in a subway station that could get people serious injured, and showed “vile disrespect” for officers.”
“New Yorker’s didn’t pick up on it and people should know that kind of activity doesn’t get anywhere,” de Blasio said. “It’s not easy for our officers to protect democratic principals and right to protest no matter the cause. They put up with a lot that night.”
Commissioner Shea said he believes their neighborhood policing initiatives will work and bring down crime in the city. He pointed to the new Police Athletic League building where the press conference was being held as proof that “PAL inspires the youth and helps them realize their potential.”
“This department is doing remarkable things to keep New York safe,” Shea said. “And in that fight against crime, we will never forget the victims of those crimes.”
Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said he had no update on the murder of Tesa Majors in Morningside Park in November, except to say, “this is in the judicial process and we are meeting with the District Attorney.” He could not offer further comment.