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Long Island

NYC murders, shootings down more than 17%, officials say

Police Commissioner James P. OÕNeill answers a question

Police Commissioner James P. OÕNeill answers a question as he speaks to the press Friday, June 30, 2017, at One Police Plaza's Joint Operations Center in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

New York City officials Thursday are scheduled to laud another significant monthly drop in crime, a trend which has pushed murders and shootings down more than 17 percent to levels that may set records by year’s end.

Both Mayor Bill DeBlasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill are set to brief reporters on the crime declines during a special news conference at police headquarters. Preliminary results through late Wednesday show that murders are down 17.7 percent in 2017, compared to the prior year, and shootings decreasing 17.5 percent. Overall serious crimes are down 6 percent from 2016.

“Excellent,” was how NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis described the latest crime statistics.

The latest figures for July showed that overall serious felonies such as homicide, burglary, rape and robbery were down 9 percent from July 2016.

Officials don’t want to openly predict the year-end numbers. But some police brass believe shootings could dip below 900 in 2017, well below the record of 998 in 2016. Homicides could also drop below 300, the lowest level in the modern era of police record keeping.

Richard Aborn, head of the Citizens Crime Commission, said that the city’s focus on gangs and guns remains a key factor in the continuing drop in shootings and homicides.

“The whole goal of the unrelenting focus on guns is to send the message that this is going to be a radioactive thing for you if you pick up a gun,” said Aborn about the NYPD anti-gang and anti-gun initiatives. “The single goal is deterrence, to stop people from using them, and it appears to be working.

Another factor, experts believe, is the way federal prosecutors have increased their use of firearms conspiracy cases. Records kept by the nonprofit Transactional Records Access Center, affiliated with Syracuse University, showed that last year federal prosecutors in Brooklyn brought 117 weapons prosecutions for guns, up from 58 in 2015. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan brought 237 weapons indictments in 2016, up from 199 in 2015, the records show. Average prison sentences range from 40 to 51 months in those cases.

One police official who didn’t want to be identified said fear of heavy sentences in federal cases is driving gang members to cooperate with police in weapons cases.

Aborn said another factor in the violence decline is the Cure Violence program in which people intervene with gang members to deter violence. Aborn also credited O’Neill’s push on neighborhood policing with building relationships, which have encouraged people to approach cops with information about crimes.

“It is easier for community members to call cops and the community can be a very good source of information,” Aborn said.

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