Serious crimes in New York City, despite fewer homicides and shootings, have increased since January, driven by felony assaults, rapes and grand larcenies, according to the latest crime data released by the NYPD.
In addition, the persistent decline in killings and shootings, which so far this year have dropped by 45 percent and nearly 35 percent, respectively, from 2015, has shown signs of leveling off, according to the data.
Through March 13, serious felonies have increased by 2.6 percent from the same period in 2015, with rapes up by 8.8 percent, felonious assaults up by 13.3 percent and grand larcenies up by 5.1 percent. Homicides are down by 23.2 percent and shootings off by 11.9 percent from last year, the latest data shows. Among other felonies, burglaries were down 7.5 percent and the grand larceny-auto category, car thefts and break-ins, were down 7.1 percent.
The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton have stressed that homicides and killings remain at record lows this year and that police are holding the line. But in recent weeks, the rates of the decreases have abated.
Last week, 10 more shootings over the previous seven-day period pushed the year’s shooting total to 155, still a drop of nearly 12 percent from 2015. However, the slide in shootings has slowed from a decrease of 45 percent at one point in January to a reduction of 11.9 percent last week.
The city recorded 53 murders so far this year, compared with 69 at the same point in 2015, a drop of 23.2 percent. But the rate of the decline in killings has slowed from an earlier decline of more than 43 percent in January.
Retired NYPD Det. Sgt. Joseph Giacalone, now a criminal justice professor and consultant, said if the shooting trend goes the wrong way the city might have to again bring back its vaunted “Summer All Out” program in which desk cops were put on the street to drive the numbers down.
“They spent a ton of money on overtime,” Giacalone said.
Monica Klein, de Blasio spokeswoman, noted that serious crime has fallen 5.8 percent in the past two years “thanks to the tireless efforts of our police officers.” More cops will continue to keep the city safe, she said.
Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, agreed that crime levels are at historic lows, but was troubled by a recent survey of cops by their union which showed their job dissatisfaction.
“You have an apprehensive police force,” O’Donnell said.
At a briefing earlier this month, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Operations Dermot Shea acknowledged the increase in felony assaults this year, currently at 13. 3 percent, and explained that such a change has come about because of changes in the law.
“From my perspective it is nearly impossible to deal with felony assault,” Shea said. “The reason is simple: the felony assault charge continues to grow almost on a yearly basis.”
Shea said the assault law has changed to make more kinds of vulnerable people covered by the criminal statute, thus increasing the potential pool of victims, like bus drivers and school workers. Shea also said reported rapes have increased because victims from prior years are coming forward this year.
Grand larcenies last month were at the highest level since 2005, Shea noted, explaining the crime drives much of the overall increase.