Shootings in New York fell by about 25 percent during the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, extending a downward trend after a spike in violent crime during the pandemic.
The sharp drop, which mirrored similar declines across the United States, came amid widespread fears about crime in the city, which officials blamed for keeping workers and suburbanites cooped up in their homes.
At a briefing on Thursday, Edward Caban, the acting police commissioner, said shootings have declined for 13 consecutive weeks. The numbers were released in early summer, when violence historically spikes, but he said he’s “confident” the department’s positive streak will continue into the summer.
“It’s no accident,” said Mr. Caban. “From the beginning of this administration, we have made the fight against gun violence our top priority.”
Through Sunday, reports of five of the seven offenses that the Police Department ranks as serious crimes fell, while two increased, police. data shows. Murders, rapes and burglaries fell by about 10 percent each; robberies fell nearly 5 percent. But car thefts increased 18 percent and criminal assaults 6 percent.
Crime data is a “roller coaster,” said Jeffrey A. Fagan, a professor at Columbia Law School. Causation, he said, is “almost impossible to prove,” although police departments often take credit.
“Crime is up, crime is down, people are alerted and the police department is changing its tactics,” he said. “No matter how many changes they’ve made, they don’t seem to be able to break this cycle.”
“What they’re seeing in New York is happening all over the country,” Mr. Fagan said.
As the pandemic swept the country in 2020, closing businesses, schools and locking people in their homes, violent crimes rose.
In New York, residents worried that the city was regressing into a violent past after years of consistent declines in crime rates. The dip in subway ridership and several violent crimes in the subways also made some New Yorkers fear for their safety underground.
Early last year, as the pandemic slowed and people began to return to their routines, the city struggled to contain a surge in violence.
Mayor Eric Adams, whose term begins in 2022, has made reversing the trend, specifically curbing gun violence, a central goal. Mr. Adams appointed a “gun violence czar.” He too expanded work program and Saturday Night Lightswhich offers activities for children between the ages of 11 and 18 years.
But the approaches to crime by Mr Adams and the Police Department have also been met with criticism.
Last year, the department announced an initiative designed to crack down on what they called quality-of-life crimes, focusing on things like public drinking, urination and disorderly groups. Critics said that the enforcement is a return to “broken windows” policing, the enforcement of low-level offenses to prevent more serious crimes, which they said result in harassment.
In June, a court-appointed monitor found that anti-crime units, then under the leadership of the former commissioner, Keechant Sewell, continued to stop, frisk and frisk too many people, despite assurances from Mr. Adams that new policies and training would be in place. prevent the problem. Report of the City this week found that there was a 600 percent increase in vehicle occupations in the first three months of the year.
For David Caba, vice president at Bronx Rises Against Gun Violence, the drop in gun violence the department highlighted Thursday reflects the work of social service organizations like his.
Since the pandemic disruptions eased, his teams, which operate in six zones within the Bronx, have seen shootings and murders drop, he said. The zones each consist of approximately 12 to 15 blocks that struggled with high rates of violence. One zone went more than a year without a single shooting or murder, he said.
“It takes everyone,” he said, adding: “It’s not just one entity that’s going to come and provide a resource.”