As major crimes continued to drop in the past month in New York City, the latest police data released Monday indicated that the city could see a record low in shootings and homicides by the end of the year.
In May, the city saw a 7.6 percent reduction in index crimes — serious felonies like homicide, burglary and robbery — compared with the same period in 2016, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said at a news conference Monday.
It was the lowest number of such crimes for the month of May in the history of the modern era of record keeping that began with CompStat in 1994, he said.
O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio presented the monthly crime briefing at the Central Park Precinct — a location that saw only five serious crimes last month, the mayor noted.
The continuing decreases have led to a 5.6 percent reduction overall for serious crimes so far in 2017 compared to last year, said Dermot Shea, the department’s chief of crime control strategies. Reductions occurred in all major crime categories and in all boroughs, he added.
“It is three straight months of impressive index crime reductions,” Shea noted. “As we sit here today for the year to date in New York City, we are down 17 percent in shooting incidents, we are also down 17 percent in murders.”
With about half of 2017 remaining, and with the traditionally higher-crime summer months still ahead, Shea was reluctant to predict how the city would end up, particularly with homicides.
But with homicides having dropped an average of 15 percent since the beginning of the year, the city could come in at about 285 killings for 2017. In 2016, the city had 335 homicides. The year 2014 saw the lowest number of homicides in the CompStat era, with 333.
Police experts said the city only had a consistent method of counting homicides from about 1962, so historical comparisons are difficult. The last time New York reported fewer than 300 killings was in 1951, when the number was 243, according to historical NYPD data.
In terms of shootings, Shea suggested that the city could come in under last year’s total of 998, the first time in history it was under 1,000. At the current pace, the city might hit as low as 830 shootings, the data indicated.
“As we sharpen our focus on gun violence, gangs in New York City, that has really been the leading edge of driving down the murder numbers,” explained Shea.