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NYPD data shows crime drops with fewer stops

Serious felonies in most police precincts have decreased this year after a large drop in NYPD stop-and-frisks, a trend some criminologists say undercuts concerns the city's crime rate will spike if the police tactic is further curtailed.

But even with the drop, according to NYPD data, a handful of the city's 77 precincts with the largest decrease in stops this year have seen overall serious felonies increase, including those covering Central Park and the place once known as "Fort Apache" in the Bronx. The 41st Precinct in the Bronx saw a 13.2 percent spike, driven by more robberies and felonious assaults. The small Central Park's precinct saw serious crime climb by 10.4 percent, fueled mostly by a spike in burglaries and rapes.

Overall, the latest NYPD data showed no hike in serious crimes -- as proponents predicted -- when fewer cops used stop-and-frisk. Use of the police tactic fell by more than 56 percent in the first half of 2013 compared with a year earlier, according to the latest NYPD data. The total number of stop-and-frisks reported by police totaled 157,879 from Jan. 1 to June 30, compared with 337,954 during the same period in 2012. For the second quarter of this year, police reported 58,088 stops, compared with 99,788 in the first quarter.

Only 41.5 percent of police precincts experienced an increase in serious felonies this year, while 58.4 percent saw those crimes go down, as of Aug. 31. Murders citywide are down 25 percent and overall felonies have dropped 1.6 percent from last year, according to the data.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a supporter of stop-and-frisk, has appealed a federal court ruling that found the police practice unconstitutional, and is suing to stop a City Council "bias profiling" law aimed at police.

Bloomberg and police Commissioner Ray Kelly have credited stop-and-frisk with helping drive down crime, although experts like Frank Zimring, a professor at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, said the question of cause-and-effect will take more study.

The sky hasn't fallen as stop-and-frisks declined, raising doubts about a close relationship between the activity and crime levels, Zimring said. "It may be more subtle or it may take more time," he said of the crime trends. "But the easiest kind of cause and effect inference to come from the data, doesn't seem to be there."

Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said "beyond doubt, there is no direct probable connection between the two."

Both Zimring and O'Donnell said more cops on the street may deter crime, particularly in impact zones where more officers are focused.

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