OPENING FAREWELLS AND HURT FEELINGS: Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, who is leaving the department on Nov. 30, walks into the NYPD Community Center in East New York ahead of the monthly crime briefing on Nov. 6. Behind him are Mayor de Blasio and First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, who expressed dismay at not being chosen by the Mayor to succeed Mr. O’Neill. ‘Yeah, of course you're disappointed, right?’ he said in answer to a question during the briefing. ‘At the same time, you know, it's the Mayor's call, right? And so, I'll leave it there.’

Two brutal incidents in which eight people were killed last month pushed up the city’s murder count, which through Oct. 31 was at 267—eight more that were killed through 10 months last year.

But although that total is just 22 below the 289 recorded all of last year, NYPD officials were hopeful, even confident, the city would remain below 300 for the third year running for the first time since the mid-1940s.

Crime Control Chief's View

Of the 11 people killed in October, four were homeless people brutally beaten in Chinatown on the night of Oct 5. A suspect in those killings was arrested the next day. Another four, including the person suspected of initiating the gun battle, were killed Oct. 12 at what police are calling an illegal social club in Crown Heights Brooklyn.

“I still am very optimistic that we will end this year under 300 murders,” the NYPD’s Chief of Crime Control Strategies, Lori Pollock, said at the department’s monthly crime briefing on Nov. 6, held in a former courthouse in East New York which was recently refurbished into an NYPD Community Center for youths. “That’s the trend right now, that’s what we’re on pace for.”

Aside from the uptick in killings, robberies, by 16.6 percent, also increased, as did car thefts, by 8.2 percent, and grand larcenies, by 2.9 percent.

She said some of the increase in robberies, which totaled 1,350, or 192 more than were reported in October 2018, were attributable to bands of juveniles, predominantly in the Bronx.

Although robberies were up significantly, Chief Pollock said robbery arrests had also increased. And, she added, robberies were down 25 percent since the inception of the NYPD’s neighborhood- and precision-policing initiatives in 2015.

Police arrested 82 juveniles on robbery charges last month, “an extreme jump" over the 16 arrested on similar charges in October 2018, she said.  

“Throughout the year we have seen the arrests of 14- and 15-year-olds go up,” Chief Pollock said.

Shootings Down

Although the increases drove up the number of so-called index crimes—homicides, rapes, robberies, burglaries, felony assaults, grand larcenies and car thefts—by 2.4 percent compared to October last year, index crimes so far are down 1.8 percent for the year, Chief Pollock said.

Despite “multiple” gang-related shootings in northern Brooklyn and southern Queens, there were fewer shootings this October than last—62 as against 68—which also represented the first time this year that shootings had declined for two straight months, she said.

The Bronx had 17 shootings last month, just over half the 31 that took place in that borough in October 2018, a decrease Chief Pollock attributed to an increase in police resources.

Gun arrests were also up last month to 240, compared to October last year, when there were 223, and marked the fifth month in row those had increased. Gun arrests were up 14 percent for the year, Chief Pollock said.

Rape Reports Decline 11%

And although reports of rape last month decreased by about 11 percent compared to October last year, to 147, she noted that reports of rapes that happened five years ago or longer ago were an indication that people were trusting police to investigate these crimes, regardless of how long ago the rape occurred.

Echoing remarks by Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner James P. O’Neill, Chief Pollock said that neighborhood policing was not just about crime reduction but about crime prevention, which “involves initiatives to put our youth on the right path before they come into contact with the criminal-justice system. And this is a priority which is demonstrated by this youth center, where I hope millions of memories are made for our community members.”

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