In a year where homicides, rapes and robberies increased slightly, New York City still saw serious crime drop 1.7 percent in 2015, continuing an overall decline that began in the 1990s, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said Monday.
At a news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio, Bratton touted last year’s crime statistics, which he said, when combined with an even larger decline in 2014, put to rest the fear that substantial decreases couldn’t continue under the new administration at City Hall.
“While we have had some fluctuation, some increases in certain categories, the overall trend in all our crime categories continues to go down,” Bratton told reporters. “It was a very good year for us, 2015.
Homicides increased by 4.5 percent in 2015, rising to 350 from 333 in the prior year, which was the lowest since 1994, said Deputy Commissioner Dermot Shea. Rapes increased 6 percent and robberies rose 2 percent, said Shea, who is in charge of data collection and operations for the NYPD.
The lower overall crime statistics came about due to what Shea called “targeted enforcement,” where cops make quality arrests even though the overall number of apprehensions was the lowest in the city since 2003.
Two boroughs — Manhattan and the Bronx — actually saw serious crimes increase by 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively, Shea said. Manhattan’s increase was driven by more robberies, while the Bronx, although seeing an overall crime increase, had what he said was a “phenomenal” reduction in shootings. Citywide, shootings were down in 2015 about 3 percent, to 1,103 from 1,172 in 2014.
Shea largely attributed the 2015 increase in rapes to victims coming forward with complaints about attacks from years past.
“Twenty percent of these rapes didn’t happen in 2015,” he said.
The NYPD has seen an increase in rapes involving single women who, after a night of drinking, get into cabs of all kinds and are attacked, Shea said.
“They get driven, and passing out and waking up in a desolate area, and they get sexually attacked. This is something, really, that people need to be exceptionally aware of, and like any case in New York City, the buddy system works,” said Shea, referring to the need for people to travel in pairs when taking a cab at night.
Bratton and police brass hope to build upon the continuing drop in overall crime by using technology such as ShotSpotter and a newly minted GPS system for police cars.
Jessica Tisch, NYPD deputy commissioner for technology, said ShotSpotter, an acoustical system that detects gunfire, identified gunshots in 1,672 cases, mostly in Brooklyn. Of those alerts, 74 percent didn’t have any 911 calls from the public associated with them.
Tisch said ShotSpotter helped police recover ballistic evidence in 19 percent of the gunfire alerts. In 22 percent of those cases, Tisch said, cops were able to make positive matches of bullets with those from guns used in earlier shootings.
Tisch also highlighted a special GPS system being tried in about 5,000 patrol cars that allows the NYPD to see where its vehicles are and to track their movements over a 24-hour period, as well as gather information about the officers’ driving.