As the new year approaches, New York City seems on track to record in 2016 its lowest number of shootings in modern history and the second-lowest homicide total.
Preliminary NYPD data and unofficial records through late Friday showed the city had logged 990 shootings, well below the 1,118 recorded in 2015 through Christmas Day. It was only about a week ago that Chief Dermot Shea told reporters that the city had never seen shootings below the 1,100 mark in the modern CompStat era of record keeping, which began in 1994.
The latest data showed homicides totaling 334, a level which, if it remains constant through the end of the year, will be bested only by the 333 recorded in 2014. The highest number of killings ever recorded in the city was 2,245 in 1989. In 2015 the city had 352 killings.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and Shea have attributed the city’s lower shooting totals to better intelligence and anti-gang initiatives, including more than 85 roundups of reputed members citywide in 2016.
New York’s year-end results are in bold contrast to those of Chicago, a city with less than a third of the Big Apple’s population that has logged more than 750 homicides and 4,300 shootings, increases of more than 50 percent and 45 percent respectively compared to 2015. Police officials in Chicago have recently said that many of the killings and shootings were attributed to gang violence and warfare. Chicago’s homicide rate for each 100,000 residents is 27.7, compared with New York’s 3.92.
Police historian and author Thomas Reppetto, who was once a commander of detectives in Chicago, thinks that city is foundering in an effort to control gang violence and that politicians in the Windy City lack the will to deal with a situation.
“The city [Chicago] is so divided that I don’t know they can do anything about it,” Reppetto said Friday.
By contrast, Reppetto said New York continued to do a good job with reducing crime, although it may be reaching the point where there may be no big reductions in the future.
“We are getting near to the irreducible minimum,” Reppetto said about New York. “Keeping it [homicides] down around the 300 range is the best that can be done.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and O’Neill are slated to hold a news conference next week in which the final crime statistics will be revealed. Despite good crime numbers, homicides have gone up in 2016 in the Bronx and Staten Island, police data showed.