NYPD officials: Street violence up to 'levels unseen in years'
New York City Police officials said in a statement Friday that the rise in shootings in New York City for the first 11 months of year has continued unabated to "levels unseen in years," leading to dramatically increased numbers of victims.
For November, shootings rose over 112%, to 115 incidents, compared to 51 in the same period for 2019, the data showed. For the year to date, shootings were up nearly 96% compared to the prior year, according to the latest statistics for November released by the department Friday.
Homicides also rose during November, with 28 killings, five more than in the prior year. For the complete year homicides total 422, a rise of 38% over last year, NYPD officials said.
In a statement, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said officers were trying innovation and determination to get the job done.
"Our work to re-imagine the kind of policing New Yorkers deserve is always evolving, in line with our agency’s best traditions to reflect the needs of everyone in our city," Shea said.
The upsurge in street violence and killings comes in contrast to overall crime remaining flat through the year, with just a 0.6% increase in the seven major crimes categories, including rapes, grand larceny, burglaries and felonious assaults, the NYPD noted.
One positive element was that hate crimes were sharply down by 37% for the year. In the face of a spike in coronavirus-related hate crime against Asians, the department set up an Asian Hate Crime Task Force, which is credited by the NYPD in closing 16 of 24 such incidents with an arrest.
Gun arrests were also up by 112% in November, while citywide firearms arrests increased 22.4% for the year to date, the department reported.
But the dramatic rise in shootings this year has essentially erased the big drops in the violence seen since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014.
In 2018, shootings had dipped to a record low in the modern era of record keeping, to 754 incidents and 897 victims. But so far in 2020, the shootings through November 29 totaled 1,410 with 1,730 victims, levels not seen since 2012, according to historical data reviewed by Newsday.
Richard Aborn, head of the Citizens Crime Commission, said Friday said the NYPD needs more overtime money and should consider hiring experienced officers from other agencies. Attrition dropped the number of NYPD officers this year to below 34,000, although a new academy class will at least temporarily halt that slide.
PBA President Patrick J. Lynch blamed City Hall.
"The mayor rolled out his cop-free anti-violence plan more than five months ago," he said. "These latest horrifying stats show that it isn’t working. New Yorkers need to hold him and all elected officials accountable for the bloodshed."
Speaking Friday on WNYC, de Blasio said: "What we've seen over last months from the end of the summer till now is a steady increase in the thing we need the most, which . . . [is] gun arrests and more and more success by the NYPD and getting guns off the street. The challenge has been – I've talked about the perfect storm that has – literally, we've never seen anything like this, and we will not see it again, thank God."
With Matthew Chayes