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Major crime increased in NYC in August, statistics show

An NYPD emergency service officer examines a bullet

An NYPD emergency service officer examines a bullet hole at scene where a man was shot in the head in Brooklyn in August. Credit: James Carbone

Major crime increased in New York City in August compared with the same month last year, fueled by a spike in homicides and shootings, as well as burglaries, robberies and car thefts, NYPD officials disclosed Wednesday.

In a year in which killings have increased by 33% citywide, the month of August saw homicides jump by 47% to 53% compared with the same period of 2019, the latest data showed. 

The slayings have occurred against a 166% explosion in shootings for the month, with police reporting 242 shootings, compared with 91 for August last year.

Overall, the NYPD said major crimes increased by 0.7% in August over the comparable period in 2019.  Two major crime categories experienced decreases:  Rape went down 22% and grand larceny declined 17.5%.

Addressing the deteriorating crime numbers, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Wednesday that the city was still experiencing what  he has repeatedly called a “perfect storm” of factors exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are dealing with a perfect storm and there’s no doubt abou it,” de Blasio said. "We are dealing with a challenge we’ve never seen in this city. It is, thank God, temporary.  There will be a vaccine. There will be a turnaround.”

In the past, de Blasio has referenced how be believed the crime situation was impacted by the closing of the courts during the coronavirus pandemic, something he said Wednesday was coming to an end.

In a separate statement, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea acknowledged the difficulties the department has faced but said his cops were undaunted and will continue to try and work with communities to deal with the crime spike.

Over recent months, Shea and other police officials have attributed the crime increase, particularly in shootings, to the bail reforms which took place earlier in the year and the emptying of the jails because of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as delays in prosecuting gun cases because courts essentially closed during the crisis.

DeBlasio and police noted that gun arrests have been increasing. But even with such activity on the rise, the total number of gun arrests in the city grew by only two, from 357 in August 2019 to 359 this year, according to police data. Additional Compstat reports showed that shootings appear to drop slightly in recent weeks but were still running at a higher level than in recent years.

Police also reported that hate crimes dropped in the month of August by 37% from 2019. One category now being tallied is coronavirus-related bias offenses generally directed against Asians, which numbered 22 in August, officials said.

With Matthew Chayes

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