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NEW YORK CITY ON PACE TO RECORD LOWEST MURDER TALLY IN DECADES

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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.

Targeting gangs

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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Teen Found Guilty Of Killing Shopkeeper Over Cigarette Papers

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A teenager found guilty of the killing of a family man outside his Mill Hill shop after he refused to sell cigarette papers to him and his friends has been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.

The 16-year-old from Brent was sentenced at the Old Bailey today [Friday 7 September] after being convicted of the manslaughter of Vijaykumar Patel on Monday, 9 July.

An investigation was launched after officers were initially called at about 23:45hrs on Saturday, 6 January by the London Ambulance Service to reports of a man who had been assaulted and injured on The Broadway, NW7.

Vijaykumar, 49, from the Colindale area was taken to a central London hospital for treatment but died during the evening of Monday, 8 January.

Detectives found that the victim had been at work in the shop on the evening of Saturday, 6 January. Three teenage boys came into the shop and tried to buy some items including cigarette papers. Due to concerns about their age and a potential breach of licensing laws they were refused service after they were unable to provide suitable identification.

The three were unhappy about the decision and became aggressive, threatening to vandalise the shop.

Vijaykumar and a colleague went outside after them to ensure no damage was done to the shop. The youth continued to be aggressive challenging the pair to a fight and being abusive.

Vijaykumar did not move towards or gesture at any of the group; he only went outside to ensure his shop would not be damaged. While he was waiting for them to move on he was struck by the 16-year-old boy with force across his neck causing him to fall to the floor and suffer catastrophic head injuries.

The colleague was also punched by the teenagers. He suffered minor injuries, but did not require hospital treatment.

A post-mortem examination held at Northwick Park Hospital Mortuary on Thursday, 11 January gave the provisional cause of Mr Patel’s death as head injuries.

An investigation was immediately launched by officers from the Homicide and Major Crime Command. Forensic analysis was completed at the extensive crime scene and local CCTV footage from inside and outside the shop captured those involved.

They were circulated to local CID officers and detectives, and arrested two days later on Monday, 8 January. The youth refused to cooperate with police and answered “no comment” to even the most basic questions put to him.

Two boys – [B] aged 16 and [C] aged 15 – were arrested after they attended a central London police station on the evening of Wednesday, 10 January. They were subsequently bailed.

The 16-year-old [B] was given a youth caution on Thursday, 22 March for a Section 4 Public Order Act offence in relation to his actions towards the shop owner and witness. The 15-year-old [C] was released with no further action on all matters on Friday, 19 January.

Detective Chief Inspector Luke Marks, from the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “It beggars belief that a family man with two kids has lost his life over an argument about cigarette papers that got out of hand. This was an unprovoked spontaneous incident sparked entirely by the refusal to let the suspects buy what they wanted.

“A man has lost his life for no reason other than trying to uphold the law, which is there to protect everyone – including young people.

“I would like to praise the work of the team who built a strong case, and the victim’s family and friends who have conducted themselves with the utmost dignity.

“Vijaykumar was a loving son, brother, father and husband, and his family are left mourning his death, wondering how someone could use such abhorrent and casual violence. I hope this conviction will bring some sense of justice to the family who have been devastated by Vijaykumar’s murder. He truly was a decent, hard-working family man who in no way contributed to his own demise.

“I would like to add that the local policing team in the Mill Hill area are in regular contact with business owners and other members of the community. Since this attack, officers have been meeting local retailers to provide reassurance and crime prevention advice. Officers will continue to engage with the business community to gauge any concerns they have.”

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Man jailed for Grenfell fire fraud and drugs offences

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A man who fraudulently obtained over £80,000 of funding that had been made available to those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire has been jailed at Isleworth Crown Court.

Yonatan Eyob, 26 (05.07.92) of no fixed address was sentenced today, (Friday, 7 September), to three years and four months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty on 30 July to one count of fraud by false representation in relation to the Grenfell Tower fire.

Eyob was also jailed for a further three years and four months – making a total of six years and eight months’ imprisonment – after pleading guilty on 6 July to the further offences of: 
– possession with intent to supply class A drugs (MDMA);
– possession with intent to supply class A drugs (cocaine);
– possession with intent to supply class B drugs (ketamine);
– possession with intent to supply class B drugs (cannabis);
– possession of criminal property.

The court heard how at the time of the fire, Eyob lived next to Grenfell Tower at an address in Hurstway Walk. However, he claimed he lived within Grenfell Tower in order to claim hotel accommodation and money – in total he fraudulently claimed £86,831.55.

Officers investigating matters of fraud linked to Grenfell Tower identified Eyob as a suspect and officers attended the hotel where he was being accommodated to arrest him. On entering the room, they found a large quantity of class A and class B drugs; over 120 wraps of MDMA, 89 wraps of cocaine, 30 wraps of Ketamine and 17 wraps of cannabis.

Eyob was further arrested for drug offences.

The drugs carried a street value of over £6,500. £3,000 cash was also seized as criminal property when officers discovered the drugs.

Detective Superintendent, Matt Bonner, the senior investigating officer for Operation Northleigh, said: “It is ironic that Eyob would have legitimately qualified to financial support if he had just told the truth as at the time of the fire he was living in a residence that fell within the Grenfell Tower footprint.

“However, he chose to concoct a story which he knew was false in a bid to obtain money and accommodation.

“His fraudulent acts were further compounded when officers found quantities of drugs within the hotel room he had been given to stay in.

“Eyob now must face the consequences of his actions with considerable time in jail.”

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Crime

2 dead, 4 critically injured after active shooter incident in downtown Cincinnati

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Police in the US city of Cincinnati say they’ve responded to an active shooter situation at a building downtown.

The Cincinatti Police Department said in a tweet on Thursday they were investigating an “active shooter/officer involved shooting” at the Fifth Third Bank, which is located in the city’s Fountain Square, a busy meeting place.

(Al Jazeera)

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