Major crime in the city continues to drop to record-low numbers, driven by reductions in murders, robberies, burglaries and auto theft, the NYPD announced.
A precipitous rise in hate crimes, however, represented a significant blip on otherwise good news, police officials said.
Murders Way Down
The city recorded 15 murders in May, a huge decline from the 35 recorded during the same month last year. Through the first five months of this year, killings are down 12.4 percent from last year—106 compared to 121—an even more noteworthy decline given increases in murders in January and February.
Crime was down in all major categories compared to the same period last year. So-called index crimes—homicides, rapes, robberies, burglaries, felony assaults, grand larcenies and car thefts—dropped 6.8 percent in May compared to 12 months earlier. Shootings last month were also down, nearly 21 percent compared to May 2018.
“Our cops’ hard work here is clearly paying off as we continue to rebound from the crime spikes we saw our earlier this year,” Commissioner James P. O’Neill said at the NYPD’s monthly crime
briefing on June 4, held at Patrol Borough Brooklyn North in Bushwick.
He said the department was focusing on hotspots, largely driven by turf beefs among gangs. “It's very fluid work that requires our constant attention, and we continually adapt as circumstances dictate,” he said. “I remind everyone that the historic crime lows New York City sees today are absolutely not promised for tomorrow.”
Reported rapes, too, were down, from 181 in May 2018 to 157 last month, the third straight month rapes declined, Chief of Crime Control Strategies Lori Pollock said.
She called it “too soon to tell” what the decreases might signify, given that rape is typically underreported.
Hate Crimes Up
Officials spent a good deal of the briefing addressing the spike in hate-crime offenses, most of them targeting Jewish communities.
The 64-percent increase through the first five months represented “an unacceptable reality,” Mayor de Blasio said. There have been 110 anti-Jewish incidents so far this year, 60 percent of the total of 184 bias offenses, according to the NYPD. They include a note left at the Jewish Museum in Crown Heights championing Hitler’s return.
The Mayor also cited threats made against a Richmond Hill mosque in April and the burning of two rainbow flags outside a Harlem gay bar late last month.
“We don't take any of this lightly and we will not tolerate it,” he said. “I believe that one of the best ways to educate people os to show them that there will be very serious consequences if they act in a way that harms others.”
Most Not Physical Attacks
Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said the bias incidents are mostly criminal mischief, property damage or graffiti, with many of the offenses taking place in Greenpoint, Crown Heights and the Upper East Side. Still, he said, the department and its investigators treat those offenses “as seriously as we would an assault.”
“No one should be at fear worshipping, walking around New York City, and that’s our message,” he said.
The Mayor said discussions at a recent meeting of residents, community officials and police in northern Brooklyn helped the NYPD deploy personnel strategically to combat the spread of bias offenses.
He said the scheduled opening of a city hate-crimes prevention office was pushed forward from November to this summer. He also urged people to report bias crimes of any type.
“Anyone who is a perpetrator of a hate crime, we will find you, we will arrest you, we will prosecute you, you will suffer the consequences,” he said.
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