Despite recent shootings that wounded innocent bystanders, the NYPD's chief crime strategist said Thursday he was "cautiously optimistic" more cops in high crime areas is behind a significant drop in gun violence.
The shift of officers to six precincts in the Bronx and Brooklyn, as well as two public housing areas, has contributed to a nearly 35% drop in shootings since May in those commands, said Chief Michael LiPetri.
LiPetri, the department's chief of crime control strategies and one of the architects of initiatives to quell the bloodshed, said the weekend deployment of even more cops has also had a positive effect.
"We still have tons of work to do but we are cautiously optimistic in that moving those resources on top of other initiatives … has now seen some positives over past few months," LiPetri told Newsday.
The decline in shootings in high violence areas of the Bronx and Brooklyn appears to have also contributed to an overall slowing of gunfire throughout the city. The latest NYPD statistics show only an 11% increase in shootings so far in 2021 compared to the same period last year. By August of 2020, shootings in the city had spiked by 80% from August 2019.
Recent, multiple victim shootings stem from more firearms on the streets and a link between quality of life crimes and gun violence, LiPetri said.
"There are absolutely more guns out there than we have seen in a long time," he said. "We have also seen that there are more groups of individuals congregating, committing quality of life offenses and then a shooting happens and then multiple people are shot in that large group."
LiPetri said quality of life offenses like dice games and large disorderly parties can trigger shootings. However, a few weeks ago, seven bystanders and three intended targets were wounded at a barbershop in Corona in what investigators believe was a shooting by members of the Trinitarios gang.
Richard Aborn, head of the non-profit Citizens Crime Commission, said the recent downward shooting trend this summer was a good sign.
"I am very cautiously beginning to become optimistic, very cautiously," he said. "We are not out of the woods, we have not turned the corner."
Aside from NYPD initiatives, Aborn said efforts by district attorneys are helping speed up prosecutions after a year of COVID-19 induced delays. Aborn noted that the state court system recently announced a program to fast track gun cases in New York City.
Some crime experts believe the city must continue a multipronged police strategy in certain neighborhoods. A study released Wednesday by the Manhattan Institute, a public policy think tank, found that from 2010 to 2020, about 1%, or 1,100 of city streets, produced about 25% of crimes.
"Policing continues to be a critical service needed by large number of streets in the city," said study authors David Weisburd, a professor at George Mason University, and researcher Taryn Zastrow.