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Violent crime spike in New York City similar to increases in cities nationwide, authorities say

New York City Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton

New York City Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton speaks at a press briefing on May 13, 2015 in Manhattan. Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

Recent spikes in homicides and shootings in New York City come at a time when many major U.S. cities this year are seeing similar or greater surges in violence following years of steady declines, according to the latest law enforcement data.

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, who Monday attended a meeting in Washington, D.C., of the Major Cities Chiefs Association that addressed the nationwide increase in violence, is scheduled to discuss the city's spike Tuesday with reporters.

The surge in violent crime citywide was underscored this past weekend when 22 people were hurt in 10 separate shootings. Ironically, the weekend saw a 55 percent reduction in shootings with 18 incidents compared with the 40 in the same three-day period in 2014, according to NYPD statistics.

But the shootings, including at a Brooklyn house party where 11 were hurt, prompted a number of politicians to demand that more be done to take guns off the streets.

Through Aug. 2, the city recorded 196 homicides compared with 178 in the same period a year ago, an increase of 10.1 percent, according to NYPD data. Shootings totaled 669 compared to 674 a year ago, a drop of 0.7 percent.

Other major- and medium-sized U.S. cities are showing increases in violence from 2014, according to their police departments. Baltimore, a city of about 622,000, this year reported 179 homicides, an increase of 56 percent. Baltimore has also seen 506 shootings compared with 269 in 2014, a rise of 88 percent. Baltimore's homicide rate is 28.77 per 100,000, compared to New York City's rate of 2.3.

Chicago has reported 252 homicides compared with 209 in 2014, an increase of 21 percent while St. Louis, according to news reports, had 114 homicides, about a 50 percent rise.

"This is not a phenomenon unique to New York," NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said Monday about the rise in homicides and shootings. "If you look at a number of major cities there is an increase in violence."

Criminologists and police officials are trying to come up with reasons for the nationwide spike, which is a marked contrast to the period between 2013 to 2014 when FBI data showed homicides dropped 6 percent and all violent crimes dipped 4 percent.

Some think the contentious relationship police had in the past year with their communities has made officers pull back from proactive policing.

"A major development in the world of policing and the country is that police are avoiding interaction, adversarial interaction, with people in a way that is most troubling," said Professor Eugene O'Donnell of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "They are adverse to being involved in confronting people."

"Cops are worried about being on the video of the week," said Joseph Giacalone, a policing consultant and a former NYPD detective, referring to viral videos of cops.


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