NYPD touts drop in murders, shootings in September – but rates remains far higher than before COVID-19 pandemic

Police probe for clues in a fatal shooting at Monroe Street and Classon Avenue.
Police probe for clues in a fatal shooting on Monroe Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn on Sept. 29, 2021.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

While murders and shootings continued to decrease across New York City in September, statistics from the NYPD show that last month’s figures for both categories were still much higher than they were in September 2019, about six months before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

The department reported a 22% drop in homicides, with 46 occurring in September 2021, down from the 59 tallied in the same month in 2020. Shooting incidents also fell 9.3%, from 150 recorded in September 2020 to 136 last month.

Though that represents continued progress as the NYPD continues to battle a pandemic surge in gun violence, the figures for September 2021 still represent a substantial increase over a two-year period.

In September 2019, the NYPD recorded just 29 murders, or about 58.6% of the total homicides that took place last month. Shootings were also far fewer in September 2019, with only 67 such incidents recorded — more than half the number of such incidents that happened in September 2021.

The gun violence epidemic had kicked into high gear in the pandemic-stricken summer of 2020, when the NYPD saw close to 500 shootings in a bullet-riddled July and August. Having eliminated its Anti-Crime Units — specialized teams of undercover officers targeting gun criminals in neighborhoods — the department shifted those members into other areas and took a different approach toward getting firearms off the streets.

That approach is working, according to police sources, pointing to a substantial increase in gun arrests made in 2021. So far this year, the NYPD has made 3,425 gun-related collars, up 20.9% from the arrests posted through the first nine months of 2020.

Last month, the department recorded 393 gun arrests — far fewer than the 607 pickups police made in September 2020 as it sought to turn the corner on the gun violence epidemic.

Still, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea sees substantial progress in his officers’ effort to keep New Yorkers safe. He also appealed to the city’s jurists in criminal courts to do more to keep gun-toting suspects off the streets.

“The ongoing, downward trend in violence reflects the hard and often dangerous work of the men and women of the NYPD,” Shea said in an Oct. 6 statement. “And while I applaud their courage and tenacity, the police cannot do this alone. Public safety must be a collective mission. It requires intelligence-based policing, but it also requires a fully-functioning court system and meaningful consequences that send a clear message to those who would pull a trigger: Expect to be caught, and expect to be held accountable.”

Beyond shootings and homicides, the NYPD reported a 2.6% overall increase in crime in September 2021, powered largely by spikes in felony assault and robbery. The city saw 2,135 assaults last month, up 18.5% from the 1,802 recorded in the same month a year prior. Robberies were also 6% higher, with 1,271 incidents in September 2021, up from the 1,199 recorded in September 2020.

Transit crime also increased by 58.6%, with 184 total incidents last month.

Source: New York Police Department