New statistics from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) show that homicides in the city have surged 37% in 2019.
Murders have spiked to over 50 in NYC year-to-date compared with just 38 in the same period last year. A chaotic Feburary, which had 24 homicides compared with 16 in February last year, helped transform some neighborhoods into warzones.
These statistics were released during a Monday press conference at NYPD headquarters in Lower Manhattan.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said law enforcement and city officials have been able to suppress violent crime by making abrupt adjustments to policy on the fly.
“Conditions are ever-changing,” O’Neill said. “Every neighborhood has different dynamics that have to be individually addressed. We are always in the process of deploying the right type and amount of resources at the appropriate time and places.”
To combat the recent flare-up in violent crime, NYPD's strategy will include strengthening gun prosecutions and expanding the CeaseFire Program that provides interventions to gang members, which will occur in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
"New York City has seen massive overall crime reductions over the years and I'm proud of the work our members on the ground do to continually focus - very precisely - on the real drivers of crime," said O'Neill. "Through the next iteration of Neighborhood Policing, we are bringing together fellow city agencies, elected officials and neighborhood leaders to build trust, strengthen relationships and take action together to further drive down crime and violence."
One such high-profile murder involved a man fatally shot at a subway station in Queens last month. Graphic video of the incident, which took place in broad daylight, went viral on social media. In an NYPD press conference, it was reported that the shooter was a 26-year-old MS-13 gang member.
Despite the wave of murders, the city’s overall crime rate was down 11% in February and down 9% for the year.
Robberies, burglaries, and grand theft auto have dropped between 10% and 14% this year. Felony assaults are down 8%, but rapes have skyrocketed by 19%, with 285 year-to-date compared with 240 in the same period last year. NYPD has attributed higher rapes with the #metoomovement.