Shootings in New York City dropped by about 25 percent through the first half of this year compared with last year, extending a downward trend after a spike in violent crime during the pandemic. The sharp drop, which mirrored similar decreases across the U.S., came amid widespread fears about crime in the city, which officials have blamed for keeping workers and suburbanites cloistered in their homes. Edward Caban, the acting police commissioner, said that shootings had declined for 13 consecutive weeks. The numbers were released at the beginning of summer when violence historically rises, but he said he was “confident” that the department’s positive streak would continue, the New York Times reports. “It is no coincidence,” Caban said. “From the beginning of this administration, we made the fight against gun violence our top priority.” Through Sunday, reports of five of the seven offenses that the Police Department ranks as major felonies had gone down, while two increased. Murders, rapes, and burglaries decreased by about 10 percent each; robberies fell nearly 5 percent. Car thefts increased by 18 percent and felony assaults by 6 percent.
Crime data is a “roller coaster,” said Columbia University law Prof. Jeffrey Fagan. Causality, he said, is “almost impossible to prove,” though police departments often take credit. “Crime goes up, crime goes down, people are alarmed and the police department changes its tactics,” he said. “Whatever changes they’ve made, they don’t seem able to interrupt this cycle.” At the beginning of last year, as the pandemic eased and people began returning to their routines, the city struggled to stem an increase in violence. Mayor Eric Adams, whose tenure began in 2022, made reversing the trend, specifically reining in gun violence, a central goal. Adams appointed a “gun violence czar.” He also expanded a jobs program and Saturday Night Lights, which offers activities for children between the ages of 11 and 18. However, the approaches of Adams and the police department have been met with criticism. Last year, the department announced an initiative designed to enforce quality-of-life crimes, focusing on things like public drinking, urination, and disorderly groups. Critics said that the enforcement is a return to “broken windows” policing, the enforcement of low-level offenses in an effort to prevent more serious crimes, which they said results in harassment.