Crime continued to decline this year in New York City but the number of serious assaults on police officers has sharply increased, according to data released Monday by city officials.
During the NYPD’s monthly crime briefing — the first for new Commissioner James O’Neill — department officials said the number of times cops have been assaulted has jumped nearly 24 percent so far this year compared with 2015.
“We are seeing assaults of police officers . . . we are seeing the lowest number of arrests in the Compstat era,” said deputy commissioner for operations Dermot Shea.
He said assaults on officers are up by 191 to 995 compared with September, 2015 when there were 804.
A police spokesman said assaults against officers occur when an officer is either mildly or seriously injured in an altercation with a suspect. The mere act of resisting arrest is not necessarily labeled an assault, the official said.
NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said the increase in assaults on officers is likely ascribed to the fact that cops are more aggressively targeting hard-core felons who are responsible for much of the serious crime in the city.
Criminals may also feel emboldened now to fight with cops, Davis added.
O’Neill said the department was doing “a deep dive” study into what’s behind the assault increase but said the police focus on violent offenders may also be driving the spike.
“We are focusing our resources now on the people involved in the violence and the crime. So the more you do that, the more I think the more push back you are going to get from the people we are looking to investigate and looking to arrest,” O’Neill said. “We are laser focused on people involved in crimes and they are the ones where we are more likely to get the resistance.”
The increase in assaults on officers was noted as Shea, O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at a briefing about the continued reduction in overall crime so far this year, with 2,322 fewer serious felonies reported in 2016, or a reduction of 3 percent compared with 2015. So far this year, there have been 97 fewer shootings, or a decrease of 10.9 percent from the same time in 2015, with 10 fewer murders, a decline of 3.7 percent.
September was also the safest September since the NYPD began using Compstat to keep records in 1994, officials said, with total serious felonies down 12.1 percent compared with September 2015.
“After the safest summer in decades, New York City remains the safest big city in America,” de Blasio said. “While other cities across the nation fight rising violent crime rates, long-term crime trends in our city continue to fall.”
Chief of Department Carlos Gomez said the NYPD rolled out another phase of its much vaunted Neighborhood Policing program Monday with 44 police commands, including 35 precincts, involved. The program, in which certain cops are tasked with engaging with local residents on problems and issues, now covers 51 percent of police commands, he said.