Murders in New York City Up 59%, Shootings Soar 177%

new york shootings murders
NYPD officers investigate a crime scene in Queens last month. (Reuters/Lloyd Mitchell)

Shootings and murders continued to skyrocket in New York City last month, as city leaders at odds over the causes of the spike struggle to keep the Big Apple safe.

There were 54 murders in the city in July, up 59% from 34 murders in the same month of 2019, the NYPD announced Monday. Shootings soared to 244 from 88 in the year-ago period, rising in every borough of the city, for an increase of 177%. The statistics follow a June that saw shootings and murders rise 130% and 30%, respectively. During the first seven months of 2020, there have been 235 murders in the city, a 30% rise from the same period of 2019; and 772 shooting incidents, representing a 72% rise from the year-ago period, and nearly the same number (776) as in the entire 2019.

On July 17, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea unveiled an “End Gun Violence Plan,” which shifts patrol and detective resources to areas with high gun violence, will hold gun-buyback events, increases coordination with the Cure Violence organization, and promotes community engagement with the NYPD.

“Amid the ongoing challenges of these times, the NYPD’s commitment to public safety never wavers,” Shea said Monday, in a statement accompanying release of the crime statistics. “Our men and women officers represent the best of the policing profession and work every day alongside those they serve in an ongoing joint mission to protect life, prevent crime and build safer neighborhoods for everyone across our great city.”

De Blasio and police brass have disagreed over the cause of the gun violence.

The mayor has attributed it to “dislocation” resulting from the pandemic, as well as a shutdown of the court system. But police brass have also pointed to certain criminal-justice reforms, such as a state law that took effect this year eliminating cash bail for most offenses, a new city “diaphragm law” that prohibits officers from sitting or kneeling on a suspect’s back or stomach during an arrest, the release of prisoners from Rikers Island due to COVID-19, and low morale at the Department resulting from anti-police protests.

There appear to be tensions between the mayor and NYPD brass over policing the city. De Blasio has advocated for some of the reforms police leadership are pointing to as a cause of the crime spike. Following rumors in early June of Shea’s resigning, the mayor and commissioner didn’t appear together at a press conference for more than a month.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch told Hamodia on Monday that ” a robust response is needed” to combat growing gun crime.

“We need leadership in our city that is willing to look at the full picture and understand why this is happening,” Deutsch said. “We must re-empower our police officers to do their job without fear of prosecution.”

Deutsch said an “inevitable result” of the diaphragm bill is that NYPD officers are “in a position that they cannot effectively conduct a lawful arrest if the suspect is resisting.”

Deutsch also said that Shea’s decision in mid-June to disband the NYPD’s plainclothes anti-cop unit, which largely focused on illegal guns but was the subject of many complaints of overaggressive tactics, left “a vacuum in enforcement.”

“The NYPD must create a new unit to fill this gap in policing and bring our city back from this dangerous precipice,” Deutsch said.

Murder and shooting are not the only crime categories that soared last month.

Burglary rose 31% and auto theft soared 53% from July 2019. But overall, there was a 6.2% decrease in the seven major index crimes, led by a 25% drop in grand larceny (by far the index category with the most total crime incidents), and smaller drops in robbery (7%) and assault (5%).

One crime category firmly on the decline is hate-motivated incidents. Between January 1 and August 2, there were 170 hate-crime complaints, a 29% decrease from the year-ago period. Anti-Semitic incidents dropped 48% from their record-high 2019, but are still by far the most of any hate-crime category, with 67 complaints in 2020.

Updated Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 4:40 pm .