NYPD Commissioner Bratton says NYC is safe despite wave of shootings

Police Commissioner William J. Bratton provides updates on Police Commissioner William J. Bratton provides updates on summer initiatives to combat crime at police headquarters in Manhattan on Monday, July 7, 2014. Photo Credit: Agaton Strom

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NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said Monday that New York remains a safe city despite a recent wave of shootings but he would consider asking City Hall for more cops if crime increased by the end of summer.

Bratton derided any notion that the "sky was falling" or that crime was out of control during a news conference at police headquarters to detail the temporary redeployment of 313 officers from specialized units back to patrol in high-crime areas.

He showed reporters statistics that indicated how over the past 21 years, murders and shootings have occasionally gone up during two decades of inexorable decline.

"Are we concerned about the shooting increase? We certainly are," Bratton said. "But overall, the trending continues to go down, and for that, we are certainly grateful."

While City Hall didn't go along with a request by some City Council members to include money in the most recent budget to hire 1,000 cops, Bratton held out the possibility that any sudden worsening of the crime situation might force a change in tactics.

"I have talked with the mayor. If at the end of this summer . . . crime has gone up or somehow things have deteriorated, I am perfectly in the position to say we need more cops. But at the moment, with the workforce we have, the overtime available, I think these numbers reflect we are doing pretty well."

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The latest NYPD statistics show that as of Sunday, serious felonies in the city have dropped 3.1 percent over the same period last year, with homicides down 10 percent.

Bratton said the city has a chance of coming in under 300 homicides for the year. However, the numbers of shooting incidents and shooting victims have risen 9.3 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively, the data show. The shooting increases have hit certain precincts in the Bronx and Brooklyn the hardest, and those areas are getting most of the redeployed officers who will be in uniform. Thrown into the mix are more than 600 cops who graduated from the academy last week.

Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said some 82 percent of homicides are considered solved. In the past, that number was about 65 percent. One-third of shooting victims won't cooperate with police, which is a problem, Bratton said.

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The police commissioner said terror remains a concern based on developments in Syria and Iraq. A high-ranking police official said U.S. intelligence and law enforcement believe that more than 100 U.S. citizens, including some from New York, have traveled to join the Islamic State, an insurgent group that has taken over territory in the region.

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