Homicides and shootings in New York City dropped last month by double digits compared to April 2021, according to the latest NYPD data, headway police brass attributed to enhanced efforts at seizing guns and tackling quality of life offenses.
But while the blood shed on city streets ebbed in April, overall serious crimes increased for the month, contributing to a nearly 42% spike in major felonies for the year so far compared with 2021, police data showed. The latest year-to-date crime numbers represent a 32.7% increase over 2020, according to the data.
For the year so far, the city has recorded just over 100 homicides.
In a statement, NYPD commissioner Keechant Sewell said the April trends represented “noticeable headway” in department efforts to stem stubborn crime trends that have challenged her and Mayor Eric Adams to devise strategies to show progress.
April, marked by the Brooklyn subway shooting where 10 people on a crowded train were wounded, saw a 38% plunge in homicides compared with the same month last year. Shootings fell 29.1% from April 2021.
Compared with April 2020, homicides were down about 14% and shootings up about 88%, data showed. Other major crimes — burglary, felonious assault, robbery, grand larceny and auto theft — continued to increase at a pace that has disturbed some criminal justice experts, rising 34% in April and driving the yearly total well above 2021.
But while last month's downward trend in homicides and shootings was applauded by some experts, they said it was way too early for the NYPD to take a victory lap with the traditionally high-crime summer months approaching.
“They [shootings] are going down but there are still a tremendous amount of guns on the street, with the potential for more violence,” said Paul DiGiacomo, head of the Detectives Endowment Association.
DiGiacomo said that continuing issues with bail reform and problems getting gun prosecutions through the courts with meaningful sentences is hurting the criminal justice system’s ability to deter offenders.
Former NYPD officer Eugene O’Donnell, who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that monthly trends aren’t necessarily significant. The country as a whole, including large cities, is seeing major long-term spikes in violence, he said.
Although, said Joseph Giacalone, a former NYPD detective sergeant who also teaches at John Jay, the number of homicides is so small that it doesn’t really impact the overall crime numbers.
Former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton was encouraged by Adams' anti-crime stance.
Help is needed, he said, to fix “the mess” of bail reform and criminal justice dysfunction.
“I applaud the mayor for taking this on his shoulders," Bratton told Newsday, "but he is not Charles Atlas, who can shoulder the world."