A recent surge in homicides in the Bronx and in north Brooklyn has pushed the number of killings in New York City above what they were last year at this time, NYPD records show.
Aside from a slight blip in early January, the latest increase is the first time this year that the pace of homicides has exceeded the level of 2017, when homicides had declined over 52 weeks to a record low of 292.
An NYPD spokesman said that although the overall motives for killings had remained the same as in the past — domestic or other disputes — there has been an increase in “gang-related killings,” up 12 so far this year from five in 2017.
The increase in homicides and a nearly 34 percent jump in rape complaints are the only categories of serious crimes seeing an uptick as all serious offenses, including burglary, robbery and felonious assault, continued to decrease by about 4 percent in 2018.
Through May 13, the city recorded 98 homicides, an increase of 4.3 percent over the 94 in the same period for 2017. Last week saw nine killings, compared with two a year earlier. For the 28-day statistical month, the NYPD recorded 33 homicides, compared with 16 a year ago.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and his staff acknowledged a week ago — when homicides were still under last year’s pace — that the Bronx and parts of north Brooklyn were seeing an uptick in killings. Through Sunday, the Bronx had 32 killings, compared with 20 a year earlier, with the past 28 days showing a 500 percent increase from two homicides to 12 over the same period in 2017. Those increases, officials said, were being pushed by gang violence.
The NYPD spokesman said Tuesday that crime increases happened from time to time but that it wasn’t time for anyone to panic because crime was still trending downward.
“It is not a smooth decline; it is a bit of a jagged decline,” the spokesman said of the homicide trends.
Joseph Giacalone, a former NYPD detective sergeant and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, agreed that there was no need for alarm.
“But if it is a gang war brewing, you have to keep a lid on it before it gets out of control,” Giacalone said.
Gang warfare, especially in the summer months when more people are outdoors, can lead to innocent bystanders being wounded or killed, he said.