New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea says that the city is on pace to set a 14-year record for most incidents of gun violence in a single year
The commissioner of the New York Police Department says that the city is on pace to end 2020 with the highest level of gun violence since 2006 and that the state’s new bail reform law is to blame.
New York’s top cop, Dermot Shea, made the comments as official data from his department indicates that shootings have soared 96 per cent this year compared to 2019.
At this time last year, there were 735 reported shootings. This year, that number has nearly doubled to 1,433 incidents of gun violence.
The last time there were this many shootings in a single year was in 2006, when the NYPD reported 1,427 shootings.
‘I wish I had better news on gun violence specifically… we’re looking to close out the year on a 14-year high,’ Shea told NY1 on Tuesday morning.
‘This has been a year like no other.’
In November alone, there have been a total of 115 shootings – a 112 per cent jump compared to the same time last year.
November also saw 28 murders – a 38 per cent rise compared to November 2019.
In the Corona section of Queens, a 76-year-old nursing home patient was struck by a stray bullet that entered the window as he was sleeping, according to the New York Post.
Police said the man woke up bleeding from the right side of his neck and was rushed to a nearby hospital. He was treated and then released.
Investigators weren’t sure what the cause of the injury was until Monday night, when a nursing home employee pulled up the blinds and noticed a bullet hole in the window.
On Sunday alone, 11 people across the five boroughs were shot – one fatally.
According to the New York Post, a 32-year-old man, whose name was not released was fatally shot in the head just before 3:30pm on Sunday.
In November alone, there have been a total of 115 shootings – a 112 per cent jump compared to the same time last year. November also saw 28 murders – a 38 per cent rise compared to November 2019. Police vehicles are seen above near the scene of a shooting in The Bronx on Friday
Other incidents of gun violence were reported on Sunday in Queens, The Bronx, and Manhattan.
Shea says that criminal justice reform initiatives including bail reform are to blame for the spike in violent crime.
‘We have made staggering numbers of gun arrests, taking guns off the streets from felons, doing it almost always without a shot being fired,’ Shea told NY1.
‘But when you look three days later, four days later, those individuals are back on the street committing more gun violence.’
Shea told NY1 that progressive policies that encourage criminal justice reform are making the city more dangerous.
‘Until we come to that realization as a society — is this what we want?’ he said.
‘It’s good to have philosophical discussions about “end mass incarceration” and “end incarceration” but you don’t want to do it by turning the innocent public into jails in their own apartments and houses.’
Shea’s boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, pushed back on the commissioner’s comments.
The mayor told reporters at his City Hall briefing on Tuesday morning that the surge in violent crime this year can be pinned on an ‘absolute perfect storm’ that hit New York this year.
Shea’s boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, pushed back on the commissioner’s comments blaming the state’s new bail reform laws for the surge in violent crime
‘You cannot combine a massive health crisis, tens of thousands of people dying, hospitals overwhelmed, economy is shut down, schools are shut down, houses of worship shut down, society not having its normal moorings all at once, a social justice crisis…’ the mayor said.
‘Come on, this is not like anything we have seen in our history and I believe not like anything we will see again in our lifetimes.’
The mayor acknowledged the ‘uptick in violence’ though he added that it is ‘clearly being addressed because we’re regluing the situation together again.’
‘We are seeing much more connection between police and communities through neighborhood policing,’ the mayor said.
‘We’re seeing many more gun arrests.’
De Blasio added: ‘We’re going into a new year with a new approach that will help us turn the tide more.’
But Shea isn’t convinced that the end of the coronavirus pandemic will mean a reduction in crime.
The latest NYPD statistics indicate a spike in the number of murders in 2020 compared to 2019
Police data also shows that the number of shooting incidents in 2020 is outpacing that of last year
As of Sunday, there were a reported 1,433 shootings in the five boroughs this year — a whopping 698 more than the 735 reported at this time last year
NYPD statistics also show an uptick in the number of car thefts compared to last year
Burglaries are also on the rise in the five boroughs, according to the NYPD
‘COVID is not going to be the end all be all,’ the police commissioner said.
In late 2018, the Democrats swept into power in Albany, capturing a majority of seats in the state legislature.
One of the signature policy initiatives that were signed into law was a bail reform measure that sought to reduce the inmate population among those who were accused of nonviolent crime.
The law requires judges in New York State to release those accused of misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.
In order to ensure that those arrested return for their court dates, the judge may impose non-monetary conditions, like electronic monitoring or supervised release.
If someone is suspected of committing a violent felony and the judge is not convinced that he or she will show up for their court date, the judge can impose bail.
Supporters of the reform say it is necessary to reduce the pre-trial jail population and combat mass incarceration.
Opponents, including law enforcement officials and prosecutors, say that it allows recidivist criminals to continue committing crimes without a deterrent.
After criticism that the reforms were too lenient, lawmakers introduced an amended version which gave judges more discretion in imposing bail, though the crux of the reform has remained intact.
Earlier this year, as incidents of gun violence surged, Shea blamed the reform, saying criminals who were let out of jail while awaiting trial were engaged in unlawful activities.
But an analysis by the New York Post showed the commissioner’s claims were incorrect.
The Post examined 528 shooting incidents through June 30. Citing the NYPD’s own statistics, it found that just one of those suspected in those incidents was released under the statewide bail reform that took effect on January 1.
Nonetheless, there is no denying that the city has seen a disturbing rise in violent crime this year.
As of Sunday, there were a reported 1,433 shootings in the five boroughs this year — a whopping 698 more than the 735 reported at this time last year.
Murders were also up by nearly 40 per cent in 2020. There were a total of 305 murders by this time last year. As of Sunday, there were 426, according to NYPD statistics.
New York Police Department officers are seen above investigating a shooting in the South Bronx on November 22. According to the latest NYPD statistics, there were a total of 115 shootings citywide in November – a 112 per cent jump from the same period last year
The NYPD’s CompStat 2.0, which tracks citywide incidents of crime, also reports data showing an uptick in car thefts as well as robberies.
Through the first 11 months of this year, the NYPD has arrested 3,793 people for gun-related crimes – an increase from 3,104 people from the prior year.
The surge in gun violence in NYC since June seems to coincide with the NYPD’s decision to disband its plain-clothes anti-crime unit – which focused on getting illegal guns off the streets.
That decision came amid scrutiny over the tactics used against protesters after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The NYPD’s statistics also indicate that November saw an increase in the number of reported incidents of rape (122 this year compared to 118 in November 2019) and burglary (1,303 in 2020 vs. 922 in November 2019).
The good news is that there was a slight drop in the number of reported incidents of robbery, assault, and grand larceny.
So far in 2020, there have been 1,315 rapes reported citywide – a drop from 1,660 through the same period last year.
The city also saw an increase in the number of car thefts. According to the NYPD, there were 8,217 incidents of grand larceny auto, a sharp increase from more than 4,900 in 2019.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced in June that the department would disband its plain-clothes anti-crime unit. Its 600 officers were to be reassigned to tasks including detective work and neighborhood policing.
Officers in the unit had been accused of using excessive force and the unit was involved in some of the city’s most notorious shootings.
The head of one of the largest police unions in the city slammed the move, saying it would make New York less safe.
‘Anti-Crime’s mission was to protect New Yorkers by proactively preventing crime, especially gun violence,’ Pat Lynch of the Police Benevolent Association said in a statement at the time.
‘Shooting and murders are both climbing steadily upward, but our city leaders have clearly decided that proactive policing isn’t a priority anymore. They chose this strategy.
‘They will have to reckon with the consequences.’
Also in June, New York City Council voted to cut $1billion from the New York Police Department’s $6billion budget for the next fiscal year.
The cuts would include overtime, headcount through attrition and shifting the department’s responsibilities, according to a joint council statement.
While crime is on the upswing in 2020, the levels of violent crime are still far lower than they were during the early part of the 1990s.
According to NYPD’s CompStat, the last time the city saw this many murders was in 2011, when the NYPD reported 474 homicides. The year before, there were 495 homicides.
CompStat figures show that the murder rate would need to quadruple in order to reach 1993 levels, when 1,543 homicides were recorded in the five boroughs.
The same applies to the number of shooting incidents. There were more than 1,400 shootings in the city this year, a sharp increase from last year, when there were just 720.
The last time the NYPD recorded this many shootings in one year was 2006, when there were 1,427 incidents.
This year’s grim number, however, is still significantly less than the 4,903 shootings that were recorded in 1993.