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Gun seizures down after drop in NYPD stop-and-frisk activity, rise in homicides, data shows

A New York Police Department car is viewed

A New York Police Department car is viewed in Times Square on Aug. 12, 2013 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

The number of guns found during NYPD stop-and-frisk encounters, which are at the lowest levels ever while homicides and shootings have spiked, has dropped by nearly half over the past two years, data show.

In 2013 cops performed 191,558 stops and seized 395 guns and in 2014 there were 46,236 stops and 201 guns found, a drop of 49.1 percent in firearm seizures, according to NYPD figures obtained by Newsday.

Over the first six months of this year, police made about 13,500 stops and found 79 guns. That compares with 112 firearms recovered from 27,527 stops over the same period in 2014, a drop of about 30 percent, the data showed.

While the city saw increases in shootings for the first half of both 2014 and 2015, NYPD officials insist there is no connection between the drop in stop, question and frisks and the rise in shootings.

"That is our position," NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said Tuesday in an email. "Historically [there is] no clear established correlation between the number of SQF's and the number of shootings."

But some law enforcement experts said Tuesday that the decline in stops and the fewer weapons found has probably affected the number of shootings. In the first six months of 2015, shooting incidents increased 6.1 percent over 2014, which in the same period saw a rise of more than 8 percent compared with 2013.

"If you do more stops, you will get more guns," said Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former NYPD officer. Reduce the number of stops and the gun recoveries also will drop, creating a risky situation, he said.

"When you get one less gun [confiscated] chances are one possible life will be lost," O'Donnell said.

Police Commissioner William Bratton is slated to talk about the current homicide and shooting trends Wednesday in a special briefing with reporters. Through Sunday, the city had 8.3 percent more homicides and actually saw a drop of 0.7 percent in shootings compared to the same period in 2014.

On MSNBC Tuesday, Bratton said the city had its safest summer since 1994 but acknowledged that violence, particularly homicides, have been a problem in major cities.

Retired detective supervisor Joseph Giacalone, who also teaches at John Jay, said criminals on the street know that cops seem to be reactive, rather than proactive. O'Donnell agreed.

"I have to believe there are [criminals] who are shooting and carrying a weapon and who now believe . . . police are in a defensive posture," O'Donnell said.

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