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NYC 'Turns A Corner' In Crime Surge With Summer Decline: NYPD

Patch logo Patch 9/7/2021 Anna Quinn
a man wearing a suit and tie: A surge in violent crime during the pandemic dropped for the third month in a row in August, when shootings were down 31%, stats show. © NYC Mayor's Office. A surge in violent crime during the pandemic dropped for the third month in a row in August, when shootings were down 31%, stats show.

NEW YORK, NY — A summer anti-crime initiative aimed at curbing a surge in violence across New York City has been deemed a success given new statistics for the month of August, according to city officials.

Violent crime declined for the third month in a row in August, including a 31-percent drop in shootings and a nearly 9-percent drop in murders compared to August 2020, the NYPD announced Tuesday.

The newly-released statistics were touted as a hopeful sign that anti-violence efforts have worked at tramping down a pandemic crime surge that began last year, though certain crimes are still above pre-pandemic levels.

"I am happy to report we are now three months in the bank where we have really turned the corner in terms of pushing back on that violence," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Violence has gripped the city starting in summer 2020 — a crime wave de Blasio repeatedly blamed on a "perfect storm" of social disruptions swirling around the coronavirus pandemic.

De Blasio in May unveiled his own strategy dubbed "Safe Summer NYC," a mix of community-focused measures and targeted NYPD enforcement on violent hotspots and guns.

Signs of progress began to show in June, when murder decreased by 23 percent and murder by 19 percent compared to the year before. In July, even larger drops were recorded with a 49 percent drop in murders and 35 percent decline in shootings, though overall crime was still slightly higher than the year before, data shows.

In August, overall crime was down 5.4 percent compared to the year before.

Police counted 167 shooting incidents, compared to 241 during the same period in 2020, and 53 murders, compared to 58 in August of last year, the data shows.

The 2021 numbers for murders and shootings are still higher than pre-pandemic levels, though. Murders are up 39 percent from 2019 and shootings increased 96 percent from that year, data shows.

Officials touted an increase in the number of gun arrests as a reason for this summer's crime drop. Though gun arrests were down slightly in August, there has been a 37 percent increase in those brought in on the charges so far this year, data shows.

A number of high-profile gang takedowns also contributed, according to Shea. Large cases that were delayed during the coronavirus pandemic were finally brought in front of grand juries this year, he said

"[Getting the] most violent people off the street — that’s when you saw that drop," he said.

NYPD officials and de Blasio contended that there is still work to be done, though. Both Shea and the mayor have pointed to a 'lagging' court system as a remaining problem in curbing the crime surge.

There have been only 3,500 guilty pleas in the city's courts so far in 2021 compared to almost 8,000 in 2019, according to city data. Trial verdicts are also down significantly, with only 29 this year as of July compared to 459 in 2019, data shows.


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