New York City continued to struggle with overall increases in major crimes in 2022, despite closing out the year with two straight months of declines, including in homicides and shootings, officials said Thursday.
For all of 2022, major felonies, which include burglaries, robberies, grand larcenies and homicides, increased by 22.4% compared with 2021. Homicides alone fell by 11.3% and shootings dropped 17.2%, with declines in the latter category reflected in every borough, officials noted.
At a news conference with Mayor Eric Adams and other NYPD top brass, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell stressed the positive crime trends in the latter part of the year as evidence that police are poised to make continued progress in 2023.
“We did not stumble into these decreases, they were not happenstance,” Sewell told reporters. “We strategized, planned, deployed, recalibrated when necessary to conduct investigations and relentlessly followed up.”
Sewell pointed to strategic efforts started last January, including deploying more cops to high-crime areas, as contributors to major shooting and homicide declines in 2022. Homicides dropped to 433 in 2022 from 488 in the prior year, and shootings fell to 1,294 from 1,562 in 2021, according to figures released Thursday by Sewell.
One highly touted program initiated a year ago was the deployment of neighborhood safety teams, which officials said carried out more than 2,000 arrests, including more than 500 for gun possession.
The NYPD won't release fully audited figures for all major crime categories until the end of the month. But the numbers are expected to be very close to the current data.
But while the year-end crime figures for the fourth quarter showed decreases in major felonies of 1.4% compared with the same period in 2021, police union officials questioned whether the department could sustain those decreases in the face of high numbers of retirements. According to recent data, there are currently just under 34,000 uniformed personnel in the NYPD, down from 36,000 in 2020. More than 1,500 officers retired in 2022.
“The bigger problem is that we simply do not have the staffing to do it on a sustained basis, in every neighborhood and for every crime category,” Police Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch said in a statement.
Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LiPetri said precision policing, targeting repeated offenders, led to dramatic reductions in violence in certain areas, notably Brooklyn South. But he acknowledged it remained a struggle to reduce all major felonies citywide.
Adams said he had been talking with political leaders in Albany about ways to improve the criminal justice system. But when questioned if he would ask to permit judges to hold people without bail on public safety grounds — as all other states do — he appeared to sidestep the issue, saying he thought it would be a danger to think of judicial discretion as the “magic bullet” to help the crime problem and wanted to deal with bottlenecks in the system.