NOT OVERLY WORRIED BY HOMICIDE RISE: Newly installed NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, second from right, briefed the press on crime statistics at the New Settlement Community Center in The Bronx Dec. 5. Also at the briefing were, from left, Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison, First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, Mayor de Blasio and Chief of Department Terrence Monahan. 

A spate of killings in recent weeks has brought the number of murders citywide to 299 so far this year, 24 more than the city recorded through November last year.

NYPD officials, though, attributed the increase to an unusually high number of reclassifications of incidents from prior years. Chief of Crime Control Strategies Lori Pollock said 27 reclassifications—deaths whose causes were for a time uncertain but which were ultimately classified as homicides by the Medical Examiner—have so far been included in the city’s murder tally this year, compared to 13 in 2018.

November Increase

Taking the reclassifications into account, there have been 272 homicides committed so far this year, three fewer than through November 2018, Chief Pollock said.

Still, murders rose last month, with 20 killed citywide, four more than in November 2018, she said.

“We continue to see a high percentage committed by gangs and gang involvement, whether related or motivated,” Commissioner Dermot Shea said at the department’s monthly crime briefing, at the New Settlement Community Center in the Bronx’s Mt. Eden neighborhood. Police have attributed about a quarter of the murders this year to gang beefs.

Of the November victims, five were murdered in the Bronx, one more than in the borough last November; and four were killed in northern Manhattan, three more than last year. Three were murdered in southern Queens, two more than last year; four were killed in northern Brooklyn and three in the borough’s southern neighborhoods. Just one was killed in northern Queens, three fewer than last November. Staten Island southern Manhattan were murder-free for the month.

Even with the increases, November’s 20 homicides were the second-lowest ever recorded for that month, Chief Pollock said.

2019 Crime Dips 1.3% 

Rapes, burglaries, grand larcenies, auto thefts and incidents in the transit system are all down so far this year, helping to account for an overall 1.3 percent decrease in overall crime compared to the first 11 months of 2018.

Shootings, though, are up 3.4 percent for the year, with police recording 720 incidents so far in 2019. But police tallied five fewer shootings last month than they did in November 2018, with the 50 shootings representing the second-lowest total recorded in the CompStat era, after the 48 in November 2017, Chief Pollock said.

Gun arrests, though, were up 13 percent, 3,098 versus 2,748, compared to this time last year, she said.

Chief Pollock noted a significant drop in domestic-violence shootings, which have dipped to 26, with four fatalities, so far this year, from 36 through the same time last year, when 14 were killed.

She suggested that the 72-percent drop in fatal domestic shooting incidents could be attributable to the removal of 140 guns this year from homes where there were reports of violence.

Robberies Climb

Felony assaults climbed 2.3 percent in November. But burglaries, down by 8 percent, and grand larcenies, by 2 percent, both decreased.

And rape reports last month declined nearly 20 percent: 115 incidents compared to 143 last November, with 15 of those having been committed in prior years, according to police statistics.

While robberies climbed 8 percent last month compared to November 2018, the 1,158 incidents still represented the second-lowest in the CompStat era, which began in 1994, for any November.

The increase was largely driven by robberies in northern Manhattan and the Bronx. Robberies, usually involving more than one perpetrator, of kids between the ages of 10 and 17 increased 34 percent, with many of those targeted victims of youth-on-youth crimes, Chief Pollock said.

She noted “a marked increase” in arrests of 15, 16 and 17 year olds, of 10 percent, 15 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Overall, robbery arrests climbed 5.5 percent in November and have increased 2.6 percent for the year, she said.

“So, when we’re talking about precision preventing, this is the group that we’re going to focus on by working with our partners in [the Administration for Children’s Services], Department of Probation, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and other organizations that help youth to stay on the right path,” Chief Pollock said.

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