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NYPD Commissioner William Bratton downplays spike in homicides and shootings over 2014

New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton

New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton holds a news conference after the annual pre-Ramadan conference for Muslim and other community leaders at One Police Plaza in Manhattan on June 8, 2015. Credit: Charles Eckert

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton told critics who think the sky is falling because of recent violence that he won't increase stop and frisk by his cops even as homicides and shootings have increased.

Bratton said Monday that he doubted the increase in killings and shootings was caused by police officers pulling back on crime fighting as some union officials have said.

In remarks to reporters at police headquarters, Bratton said the city is doing just fine with a 6.8 percent decrease in serious crime compared with 2014. Stop and frisks are at their lowest level in more than a decade with just over 7,000 in the first quarter of 2015, according to NYPD data.

"So let us get over it" Bratton said. "Stop, question and frisk is not a significant factor in the crime rate in this city."

To beat back the increased shootings and killings, the NYPD Monday kicked off a "Summer All Out" program where desk cops are being put out on patrol for 90 days.

"We are not heading back to the bad old days," Bratton continued, referring to the high crime rates of the early 1990s. "It is not going to happen."

The latest NYPD data for the period ending June 7 found that murders rose from 121 to 143 so far in 2015, an 18.2 percent increase over the same period last year. The number of shootings increased 5.4 percent, to 451 from 428 recorded last year.

Bratton was dismissive of the work of criminologists, some of whom have found that stop and frisk has had some impact on crime, particularly around crime hot spots.

In an interview with Newsday earlier this year, Richard Rosenfeld, professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said, "where you find an increase in stop, question and frisk, at least when it was going, you do find small crimes decrease, but relatively small."

David Weisburd, a distinguished professor of criminology at George Mason University who studied stop-and-frisk action around high crime intersections in the city, suggested that stops by police had "a significant deterrent effect on crime at that level."

Each stop done by a police officer at a location seems to help drop serious crime by up to 3 percent in the following week, said Weisburd in 2014.

Neither Rosenfeld nor Weisburd could be reached for comment Monday.

Meanwhile Bratton brushed aside findings of academia.

"We have a difference of opinion among police experts," Bratton said. "I happen to be police commissioner of the City of New York at this moment. So I am what you are stuck with. Criminologists sitting in their offices, typing away, they are not out in the streets like we are."

Yet, Bratton acknowledged Monday that more cops out on the street should deter crime, something Weisburd's study earlier suggested.


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