Another violent weekend of shootings in New York City pushed the toll of wounded to more than 600 so far in 2020, according to the latest NYPD statistics — a pace that could surpass 2019's gun violence by year's end.
The increase in shootings and street violence has accelerated in June as cops grappled with weeks of protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the loss of anti-crime units. The $1 billion in potential funding cuts to the NYPD in the next city budget, announced Monday by Mayor Bill de Blasio, has further increased concerns about whether less money will mean more crime.
Shootings for the week ending Sunday spiked by 142% over the same period in 2019, from 26 to 63, while those hit by gunfire rose 157.6% compared with the same time last year, from 33 to 85.
“This is a lot of violence that we have not seen in a long, long time,” NYPD Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan told Newsday on Monday. “I am extremely concerned on how we are going to deal with this moving forward.”
Monahan said drivers of the violence have been the inability of the courts and prosecutors, because of pandemic constraints and bail reform, to quickly prosecute suspects and keep them in jail.
For all of 2019, shootings totaled 776 and victims 922, records show. For the year to date, shootings are up 44% to 511, while the number of victims has risen 51.7% to 616. Homicides have jumped 23%. Burglaries and auto thefts have also continued their steady climb, police said. Overall major crimes, though, are down 2.8% for the year compared with the same period of 2019.
Officials are also troubled by an early Sunday shots-fired report in East Harlem that police were unable to investigate because an angry crowd kept cops from canvassing the area to look for any victims. Monahan said the episode reflected increased animosity toward police.
“It is large groups of people who believe the police don’t have a right to come out and bring order back into the streets,” he said.
Shootings dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic pause to as low as single digits. But with warmer weather, the shootings and the victims steadily increased.
Announcing Monday that he was negotiating an agreement with the City Council to shift $1 billion from the NYPD, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he believed the plan assured city safety but acknowledged shootings remain a major problem.
“You know I am very concerned about the uptick in shootings," the mayor told reporters. "We have to make sure we can handle that and we have to make reform."
But Police Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch said de Blasio and the City Council are to blame for the crime situation.
“Even right now, the NYPD doesn’t have enough manpower to shift cops to one neighborhood without making another neighborhood less safe," Lynch said in a statement released Monday about the defunding proposal. "We will say it again: the Mayor and the City Council have surrendered the city to lawlessness."