A spate of killings during the first weekend in February shaded what until then were encouraging crime statistics coming out of January.
Five were killed over the weekend of Feb. 6 and 7, three that Sunday, including a 37-year-old Queens man shot multiple times that afternoon while he sat in his car along a commercial corridor in St. Albans. Shootings also rose, with police tallying 19 shootings, and 19 people shot, during February's first week, more than twice the number of shootings and victims recorded during the same period last year.
The killings will not noticeably affect statistics that showed a pronounced decline in overall crime through January compared to last year, but they are likely to further the contention, particularly from police unions, that elected officials have been dodging their responsibilities when it comes to combating crime and supporting police.
“More silence from NYC politicians,” the Police Benevolent Association’s general counsel tweeted after noting the weekend’s grim statistics.
The New York Law Enforcement Labor Coalition, which represents all five city police unions, tweeted out a news article noting the negative aspect of a skyrocketing number of gun arrests so far this year and called on officials to address the spike in violence.
“As violent crime continues to skyrocket, our officers need more funding, not less. It's time for our pols to take action,” the organization tweeted Feb. 4.
The criticism is likely to sharpen as the City Council this month takes up a package of policing-reform legislation its proponents say will recast the NYPD’s mission and responsibilities, including by giving the Civilian Complaint Review Board final say on some disciplinary matters.
21% Dip in Crime
While incidences of rapes, robberies, felony assaults, burglaries, grand larceny and murders all declined in January, resulting in an overall 21-percent decrease through Jan. 31, violent crime, particularly involving guns, remained stubbornly high, according to police data.
The 77 shootings recorded by the NYPD represent an increase of 11 from the same period a year before, a nearly 17-percent bump. January 2020’s shooting incidents were actually up 29 percent from a year earlier.
Although killings dipped somewhat last month, with the city recording 25 killings, two fewer than in January 2020, at least eight took place in February’s first week, pushing year-to-date murder numbers to 33.
The killings and shootings took place despite a blizzard that brought more than a foot-and-half of snow to some parts of the city in just over 24 hours on the first of the month and snowfall that enveloped much of the Feb. 6 weekend.
Raining Lead in Blizzard
Police recorded six shootings during the blizzard, which Commissioner Dermot Shea said was “very out of the ordinary” for a snow event.
“Usually, on a day like this, that’s one thing that goes by the wayside and it’s quieter in terms of traditional crime,” he said during a Feb. 3 interview on NY1.
The shootings took place throughout the city, and had no apparent correlation. “Each is its own unique story,” Mr. Shea said. Detectives were actively working the cases, he added.
The Commissioner, as he has since the pandemic roiled the criminal-justice system, intimated that courts had played a role in the increase in shootings, saying that about 90 percent of people accused of gun crimes last year “are walking around on the streets” despite New York State’s tough gun laws.
Gun Arrests Up 60%
“We have thousands and thousands of open cases on gun arrests,” he said during a Feb. 3 interview on Fox5 television. “A lot of work being done and a lot more work to be done by all the members of the department—and outside the department.”
Underlying that critique is the massive increase in gun arrests made by the NYPD this year. Through January, officers had made 481 gun arrests, 60 percent more than the 301 made through the same period last year.
Although the NYPD has not held its usual press conferences to discuss the previous month's crime numbers since the pandemic started, it had put out press releases to detail that data. It had not done so as of Feb. 9.
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