Despite enduring its deadliest terror attack since 9/11, New York City is on pace to record its lowest murder total in decades.
The homicide drop mirrors an across-the-board reduction in major crimes over 2016, statistics released by the police department show.
There have been 278 homicides this year, as of December 17, compared with 325 at the same point last year, a drop of 14.5%, NYPD records show. Among those killed were eight victims of a Halloween attack on a busy Manhattan bike path.
The tally last peaked in the early 1990s, with more than 2,000 killings annually, according to police figures provided to CNN.
Numbers of felony assaults, burglaries and auto theft cases also decreased in 2017, compared with the prior year, along with a 10% drop in robberies, data show.
“We’ve seen the lowest number of index crimes here since the ’50s,” police Commissioner James O’Neill said at a recent news conference, referring to the crime categories. “With informed, engaged and empowered communities, we’re going to keep pushing those numbers down even further.”
The number of times police fired their guns during an incident is lower than last year, as well. Officers had fired their weapons in 23 incidents as of December 17, compared with 37 incidents in 2016, Det. Sophia Mason said.
O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio credited the recorded crime reductions to a focus on neighborhood policing, a strategy the NYPD started to implement in 2015.
“We are giving our cops the opportunity to make relationships and build on those relationships,” O’Neill said this month. “Nobody knows what’s going on better on a block than the people that live there, the people that worship there, the people that work there.”
Focusing on neighborhoods
Under the neighborhood policing model, each precinct has two “neighborhood coordination officers” who govern the precinct, plus 12 “sector” officers, O’Neill said. All are assigned to work regularly in the same precinct, rather than shuffling around, so they get to know the people and issues in their own communities.
“We’re giving them back the ability to make decisions,” O’Neill said. “No one knows better than the people patrolling those sectors and the people that live there what’s actually happening.”
Precincts are divided along neighborhood boundaries, rather than crossing them, he said.
Of the city’s 77 precincts, 51 have operated under this model since 2015, and recorded crimes have decreased at faster rates there, O’Neill said, adding that he hopes to implement the strategy citywide next year.
“My vision is to fully implement neighborhood policing, and that’s to give our police officers the opportunity, the training, and the time to communicate, establish relationships, work together to identify problems, and work together to solve problems,” he said.
O’Neill cited a focus on curbing gang violence as another reason crime statistics have improved. Precinct detectives work with comrades who focus on vice crimes, narcotics and gun violence to reduce gang activity, he said.
“We’re also continuing to target gangs and crews who commit the majority of the violence in New York City,” O’Neill said. “I think that, in conjunction with neighborhood policing, that’s why you’re seeing the crime numbers go down.”
Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, said he believes part of the decrease in gang violence is because of technology, which has made it easier for police to target suspected gang members. Guardian Angels is a volunteer safety patrol organization — separate from the NYPD — that started in New York City.
“Nowadays, as a gang task force member, I can sit in an office, and all I have to do is look at social networking,” Sliwa told CNN. “The gangs are their own worst enemy. They post everything.”
More work to do
Sliwa acknowledged that crime statistics have improved overall, and he credits the NYPD for that. But he believes the city has become safer for men, not women. In his work, he still sees sexual assault and harassment as major issues that need to be more heavily addressed, especially for women riding the subway.
“It’s because there are so many pervs who have sought sanctuary in the subway,” Sliwa said. “Now our focus because of the problems of assaults against women is on the subways. It’s become a sort of perv heaven.”
Sliwa and his organization started an all-female volunteer task force called Perv Busters to focus on this problem. These volunteers patrol the subways, filling in as extra eyes and ears for police and occasionally making citizen arrests.
At a recent press conference, O’Neill acknowledged the importance of investigating each claim that is brought to police attention.
“It’s important that each rape, no matter what the classification is, is fully investigated,” O’Neill said. “And it’s something that we have to constantly, when we put people into Special Victims, we have to make sure we select people that are right for that job. So, that’s an ongoing process.”
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Police step up patrols in London as spate of violent crime continues
Extra patrols working on bank holiday as mother of latest victim calls for end to violence
The Metropolitan police increased the number of police officers on the streets over the bank holiday weekend as London’s violent crimewave showed no signs of abating, with one teenager shot dead and another caught in crossfire in a separate incident. There were also a number of violent incidents in other parts of the country.
As temperatures hit record levels for the early May bank holiday, the Met grappled with shootings, stabbings and acid attacks across the city.
The recently appointed home secretary, Sajid Javid, vowed to work with anyone determined to tackle serious violence, while the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, hit out at the failure of government ministers to tackle the problem.
Javid, whose predecessor, Amber Rudd, unveiled a serious violence strategy as one of her final acts as home secretary, tweeted: “Appalling to hear about children being killed and injured on our streets this bank holiday. Serious violence is robbing too many young people of their futures. I will work with anyone determined to tackle it.”
The Met said extra patrols would be working on Monday to keep the capital’s streets safe after a series of incidents on Saturday and Sunday.
Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton, 17, was killed on Saturday. Paramedics and police were called to reports of gunshots on Cook’s Road in Kennington, south London, just after 6pm. Rhyhiem was found on nearby Warham Street with a gunshot injury.
His mother, Pretana Morgan, called for the violence to end. “Let my son be the last and be an example to everyone,” she said. “Just let it stop. What must be, must be.
“It’s not about race, it’s not about nation, it’s not about culture. Nothing. It’s just a human race. Just one human race. So children, please let my son be the last.”
She said Rhyhiem was not in a gang and he had been trying to make a difference by learning to work with children. He was also an aspiring architect. No arrests have been made in connection with his death.
On Sunday a 13-year-old boy was struck in the head by shotgun pellets as he walked along a street with his parents in Wealdstone, north-west London. Police said they believed the teenager was an innocent bystander after a 15-year-old boy was attacked nearby.
Both teenagers suffered non-life-threatening injuries, and the younger one has been released from hospital. Officers have been made aware of a possible third victim who may have been at the scene with the 15-year-old.
DCS Simon Rose, the Harrow borough commander, said: “This was a callous, reckless and brazen act, without any thought by those responsible for the fact that there were families with children and people in the high street enjoying their weekend. This was quite simply appalling.”
In east London, a man believed to be 17 years old was taken to an east London hospital after being stabbed on Leytonstone Road. His condition was initially deemed critical, police said, but is now thought to be not life-threatening. His family has been informed and detectives from Newham CID are investigating.
A 43-year-old man was also stabbed in Perivale, in north west London, after a dispute about driving.
Police said the man was attacked on Buckingham Avenue at around 9pm on Sunday after a number of residents questioned a man in a blue car about the nature of his driving in the small residential street.
Three people were injured in a “noxious substance” incident after an altercation between two groups in east London at around 5.20am on Sunday.
Police are investigating whether the men, aged 22 and 27, and a 17-year-old boy suffered life-changing injuries in the incident in Shacklewell Lane, Hackney.
In another incident in south-east London on Sunday, police were flagged down by a member of the public in New Cross Road just before 6.30pm, where they found a 22-year-old man with gunshot wounds. He was taken by ambulance to a central London hospital where his condition was not life-threatening, according to Scotland Yard.
Police said: “At this early stage, it is believed that two male suspects riding one moped shot the victim … Officers retain an open mind as to any motive.”
Outside the capital, two men died in stabbings in Liverpool and Luton during the bank holiday weekend. Fatah Warsame, 20, from Cardiff, died after being stabbed in Liverpool city centre early on Sunday morning. On Sunday evening a 20-year-old man was killed in Bishopscote Road, Luton.
In Macclesfield, a 37-year-old man died after suffering knife injuries on Sunday evening. Cheshire police said a 15-year-old boy and 29-year-old man were arrested as part of their investigation into the incident.
Rudd launched the serious violence strategy last month amid controversy over the potential link between dwindling police numbers and the rise in crime. The strategy is to be backed by £40m of Home Office funding and a new offensive weapons bill to ban the sale of corrosive liquids to under-18s and introduce tougher restrictions on buying knives online. It will focus heavily on the links between illegal drug markets, particularly for crack cocaine, and violent crime.
Khan, who has faced criticism from some for the increase in violence since he became London mayor, said he was “doing all I can to compensate for the failure of government ministers” on the issue.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
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