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Gang arrests, weapons seizures help cut violent crime in NYC

Large-scale gang takedowns by the NYPD in recent months are believed to be the driving force behind a sustained decrease in violence in New York City this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio and police officials said Thursday.

With an overall crime decline in May of 6.1 percent compared with May 2015, homicides and shootings in New York for the year are now trending 13 percent and 22 percent lower, respectively, than in the first five months last year, officials said. In May alone, there were seven fewer killings and 50 fewer shootings than in May 2015, police said, declines of 19.4 percent and 37.9 percent, respectively.

New York’s results are in sharp contrast to other major U.S. cities, where violent crimes have increased. For instance, in Chicago, which has a population of about 2.7 million, 243 homicides were reported as of May 31, compared with 127 in New York, with more than three times the population, at 8.5 million. That translates to a homicide rate of nine per 100,000 people in Chicago but only 1.49 per 100,000 in New York.

De Blasio said the decline in violent crime is a result of a number of strategies coming together at the right time.

“I think it is precision policing, a heavy focus on gang takedowns, heavy focus on gun seizures and improved training and technologies,” de Blasio said at a news conference.

Although out of town on vacation, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton issued a statement saying the crime figures illustrate the safety of the city resulting from the hard work by his police officers.

“There is a perception that crime and violence are on the rise in New York. That perception defies reality,” Bratton said. “We are in the midst of experiencing the safest start to any year I have ever seen — with nearly one hundred fewer shootings and nineteen fewer murders through the first five months of the year.”

Chief of Department James O’Neill said there was a slight jump in shootings during the Memorial Day weekend, from 16 in 2015 to 18, a 12.5 percent increase. The number of homicides declined during the holiday weekend to four, compared with five last year.

Officials said big gang offensives have netted 350 arrests of hard-core gang members. There also have also been nearly 1,550 gun arrests in 2016 so far, an increase of 22 percent from the same point last year, Dermot Shea, deputy commissioner for operations, said. Shea said in city housing areas there has been a 67 percent increase in gun arrests this year.

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