Murders and shootings down in New York City

In a significant reversal, the number of murders and shootings were down across New York City compared to one year ago, city officials announced on Tuesday.

Murder decreased by 8.6% (53 v. 58) while shooting incidents decreased by 30.7% (167 v. 241) in August 2021 versus August 2020. Overall crime in the city decreased by 5.4% (8,824 v. 9,330) in August. 

Historically, crime rises in the summer months, particularly in July and August. 

Speaking during a briefing from City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea pointed to efforts to get guns off the streets. The key is a 37% increase in gun arrests. Thus far this year, the NYPD has made 3,025 arrests for illegal guns — an increase of 750 over last year.

Officials also pointed to grand juries returning to hear a backlog of cases.

During the pandemic, the court system ground to a halt. Officials say that left criminal cases in limbo, even when suspects were caught. Without immediate consequence, defense attorneys shied away from plea deals.

"Defense attorneys are playing a strategic game, which I would probably do the same thing if I was a defense attorney, which I'll never be," Shea said. "But if I was in their shoes, I would say, 'You are crazy to take a plea when there is no way – we know that you're not going to trial anytime in the near future.'"

But grand juries are once again hearing gun cases. So the NYPD said the message is: "If New Yorkers carry an illegal gun, they will be caught and will then have to decide right away to take a plea deal or face trial."

The mayor, with a sense of urgency, said a fully reopened court system is needed to push crime down even further.

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"Every day, our Police Department, and our hardworking men and women who make it up, are continuing to develop better ways to police, encouraging better community relations and ensuring community safety for all," Shea said. "Our city's common future depends on this unwavering commitment to safety, fairness, intelligence-driven policing, targeted deployments, and state-of-the-art training – all with the continuing aim of reducing the damaging impact of criminality and violence in New Yorkers' lives."

Shea also pointed to a strategy of working with community partners, addressing local concerns and implementing intelligence-driven plans.

While praising the good news, officials say there are still pockets of the city, particularly in the Bronx, where youth gangs are driving a lot of the violence. The NYPD said its work continues in those areas.

"Labor Day weekend in the Bronx, we had seven homicides — seven individuals who were fatally shot by gun violence, and five of those fatalities were all in the northeast Bronx," City Councilmember Vanessa Gibson told FOX 5 NY. "There was a problem, there was a crisis. And this is really a state of emergency."