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DISREGARD THE GUNSHOTS: Despite a surge in shootings in some neighborhoods and an increase in robberies, major crime citywide is on pace for another record-low year, including fewer homicides.

Gunplay is up in the city, particularly in pockets of the Bronx and Brooklyn, NYPD officials said. Although major crimes continued their downward trends in July, shootings for the year are up just over 5 percent, according to police statistics.

Although the 87 shootings last month were two fewer than the 89 recorded in July 2018, a brazen incident in Brooklyn July 27 during a community celebration in Brownsville that left one dead and 11 injured was among the city’s worst in recent years.

 

'Pockets of Violence'

The shooting was attributed by police officials to a beef between rival gang crews. Assistant Chief William Aubry, the Commanding Officer of the Citywide Investigations Division, said at the NYPD’s monthly crime-statistics briefing on Aug. 6 that while no arrests had been made in connection with the shooting, Detectives were gathering solid evidence, including from witnesses and two recovered guns.

Still, Chief of Crime Control Strategies Lori Pollock noted that overall, July shootings represented the second-lowest number of shootings recorded for any July, even if the city was experiencing “pockets of violence.”

Two adjacent Bronx Precincts in particular, the 46th, which covers Fordham, University Heights and Morris Heights, and the 48th, covering Belmont, East Tremont and West Farms, saw increases in shootings. The 12 incidents there last month were nearly all gang- and narcotics-related, she said.

The 25th and 23rd Precincts in East Harlem experienced a combined nine shootings last month, a marked increase from July 2018’s two incidents. And commands in northern Queens also continue to respond to violence, although shootings there dipped last month, Chief Pollock said.

Ebb in Brooklyn North

Brooklyn North commands, though, which were plagued by violence earlier this year, saw a significant decrease in shootings last month, Chief Pollock said. Seventeen incidents were reported in those neighborhoods, well below the five-year July average of 25 and last July’s 30 shootings, she said.

Chief of Department Terrance Monahan reiterated that gangs and crews are responsible for the vast majority of shootings, from “one end of the Bronx to the other,” but noted that “a lot of young kids,” some as young as 13, increasingly are involved or taking part.

He said the department was working with various city agencies to quell the bloodshed and bringing more police resources to where gun crimes are happening.

Chief Pollock said officers are continuing to focus on removing illegal guns from communities and arresting those who carry them, with the 331 gun arrests last month representing an increase of 22 percent compared to last July’s 273 arrests.  

“This is the fifth consecutive month that we’re making more arrests than the previous month,” she said.

Robberies Climb, But ...

The 1,183 reported robberies last month represented an increase of 7.2 percent this July compared to last. But Chief Pollock said those numbers were the lowest and the second-lowest totals since the onset of the Comstat era 25 years ago.  

But, she also cautioned that, as with shootings in the Bronx, there appear to be more younger perpetrators.

“Citywide robberies committed by youth are up, and citywide July arrests of 16- and 17-year-olds for robbery have increased by almost 60 percent,” from 86 in July 2018 to 137 last month, she said.  

But while felony assaults, auto thefts and burglaries also climbed, all major crime categories continue to trend downward for the year.

Although the 31 murders last month were three more than the city experienced in July 2018, killings for the year were again on pace for a record-low, with 171 homicides recorded so far in 2019, compared to 184 through July last year, the old standard.

Scams Climb

Chief Pollock noted that police are responding to “a marked increase” of people falling for phone scams. She said that culprits are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with some able to “spoof” incoming phone calls as showing they come from a local police precinct and therefore appear legit.  

“They scare people by telling them their loved ones have been arrested, that their Social Security numbers have been compromised,” and then ask for “life-changing money” in the form of gift cards, she said.

“The demographics are across the board,” she said, with the scams not just targeting the elderly, Chief Pollock said. “No legitimate agency will ask for money over the phone,” she said. “Hang up.”


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