Four months into 2017 New York City continues to see significant drops in serious crimes, including homicides and shootings, according to the latest NYPD data.
Through May 2, the city reported 84 homicides compared to 97 in the same period last year, a drop of 13 percent; shootings declined 14.3 percent from 257 to 220 in the comparable period, the data showed.
The latest crime data, which included what one police official called a decent result for April, are scheduled to be discussed Thursday by Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill during the monthly crime briefing for reporters at the 113 Precinct in Rochdale Village, Queens.
Overall, serious crimes such as homicide, rape, burglary and felonious assault were down about 5.5 percent from last year. Police officials have been reluctant to project future results, but if current trends continue homicides may come close to dropping below 300 for the year and shootings could dip to 900.
The one hitch, says one crime expert, could be that the increase in heroin use might drive up property crimes and larceny, like those seen in the recent spate of knifepoint robberies of stores on Long Island.
The city has seen decreases in all major felonies. Staten Island has witnessed the most dramatic drop in homicides, dipping to four so far in 2017 compared to 16 last year in the same period.
“It is amazing that they continue to do this. It is almost like a magic trick,” said retired NYPD Sergeant Joseph Giacalone, now an author and lecturer on crime. “Just when you think you can’t get it lower, it goes lower.”
Giacalone attributed the lower crime numbers in the city to two years of concentrated effort to get guns off the street. Recently, O’Neill credited anti-gang offensives and expanded neighborhood policing as reasons for the continued drop in crime.
“Precision policing” and a tight focus on illegal guns was behind the crime decline, Richard Aborn, head of the Citizens Crime Commission, said in an email.
But the explosion in heroin use bears watching, Giacalone said. City officials project that overdose deaths could hit close to 1,300 in 2017. Giacalone said addicts could commit more crimes to feed their habits, pointing to the knifepoint robberies in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. On Tuesday, police arrested Shane Cashmore, 30, and two others in the holdups. Cashmore said the robberies were prompted by his heroin addiction.