October shootings and homicides in New York City declined compared with the same period a year ago, but overall serious crimes spiked, driving an increase in all major offenses for 2021, according to NYPD data released Wednesday.
There were 37 homicides last month, a 9.8% drop from 41 reported in October 2020. Shootings last month fell by 4.4% to 129, down from 135 in October 2020, according to the NYPD statistics. The declines were touted by NYPD brass Wednesday as another indication that an anti-violence offensive started in the summer is working.
"This is the precision-policing philosophy at work," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea in a statement. "This includes making gun arrests, and working with our criminal justice partners to address local concerns such as the interdiction of so-called ghost guns — whose proliferation presents a host of investigative challenges to law enforcement."
Still, the results for the entire year so far show that while homicides are down 2%, compared with 2020, overall serious crimes, including robbery, felonious assault and rape, are up about 1.3%. Felonious assaults have increased by 8%, grand larcenies nearly 4%, and rapes — considered an underreported crime — are up 2.1%. Burglaries last year spiked by 20% during the height of the pandemic closings in 2020 but have fallen in 2021 by more than 21%, according to police. Shootings, not considered a serious crime for record-keeping purposes and tallied separately, have climbed by 2% so far in 2021, compared with the same period last year.
The drop in burglaries surprised Joseph Giacalone, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former NYPD detective sergeant. He said the decrease helped the city avoid a steep rise in overall crime. However, the increase in grand larcenies is an indication that the total figures for major felonies will still exceed those of 2020, Giacalone said.
"The grand larcenies are the largest category," he said. If grand larcenies stay on an upward trajectory, the NYPD "will lose the year," Giacalone said.
For October, grand larcenies climbed 18.6%, compared with the same month a year ago, and are up 3.7% to 30,768 for the year, the data showed.
The drop in city violence over the past few months is welcomed news, Giacalone said, "but not something we want to hang your hat on."
Police have acknowledged that key areas of 2021 violence in the city were parts of the Bronx, as well as areas of Brooklyn and Queens. NYPD activity against gangs in those areas, as well as increased police patrols over the summer months, has been credited with bringing down the shooting numbers. Shea said police action in October led to 382 gun arrests, bringing the total for the year to 3,808, a rise of nearly 14%.
Police also reported a sharp rise in hate crimes of 96% so far in 2021 over last year. The biggest motivations for those crimes was bias against Asians, a 343% increase, followed by bias targeting Muslims, up by 267%.