New York City starts year with spike in shootings, major crimes; NYPD, critics blame bail reform

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The NYPD has released its first monthly crime stats since the state enacted its new bail reform initiatives, and it shows an increase in nearly all crimes except murders and rapes.

There is a 16.9% increase in all major index categories, with shootings up 27%, robberies up 35%, burglaries up 18%, auto thefts up 70%, grand larcenies up 10%, and felony assaults up 8.5%.

Conversely, murders are down nearly 20 percent, with 25 so far this year after 31 at this point last year. Rapes are also down.

"That is cause for real concern," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "It's also very important to note the good news: murder down, rape down."

NYPD officials are attributing the increase to the release of many defendants, per the bail reform laws, with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea citing a "pretty significant number of people released from Rikers Island."
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NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea


Additionally, the NYPD has launched a new youth strategy to address and prevent youth crime, which officials say will draw on officers to address crime spikes involving youth as well as promote the mission of keeping all kids safe.

The new Youth Coordination Officers, starting this spring, will complement the Department's Neighborhood Policing philosophy. This effort will revamp how cops and kids interact, with the goal of helping young New Yorkers avoid a first interaction with the criminal justice system and reach their full potential.

"Every single member of the NYPD understands that behind each crime statistic is a victim who deserves justice," Shea said. "Through Neighborhood Policing and precision policing, our officers are fostering critical relationships with the communities they serve. The men and women of this department are second to none and they will continue to be relentless to address upticks in crime."

As the department adapts to the challenges of criminal justice reforms, Shea said the NYPD continues to employ precision policing, where officers focus on the small number of individuals driving crime, including gang and crew violence.

"The men and women of the NYPD work tirelessly to build bonds with the communities they serve," de Blasio said. "These efforts have made New York the safest big city in the country, and I want to thank our officers for always protecting the five boroughs. While we are sober about the challenges we faced last month, the NYPD will use data and targeted enforcement to fight crime. As we double down on our efforts, we will be building bonds with our youngest New Yorkers to make our city safer and fairer."

Still, PBA President Patrick Lynch called the situation a public safety emergency.

"New Yorkers need to reject Mayor de Blasio's easy excuses," he said. "Bail reform is not the only problem here. The double-digit increases in shootings, robberies, burglary and thefts aren't the product of any single law or policy. They are the result of failed leadership and a political culture that denigrates and devalues the work police officers do."

Tina Luongo, attorney-in-charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society, released the following statement concerning the NYPD's monthly crime briefing:

"As any serious person knows, one month of data cannot tell us anything meaningful about crime trends. This is just more irresponsible misinformation from NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and other opponents of bail reform happy to ignore reality when it doesn't serve their agenda. The fact remains that crime is at all-time historic lows, and has been consistently low even as release rates from pre-trial detention have steadily risen."

The New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement:

"Commissioner Shea and Mayor de Blasio should be more focused on ensuring our new bail law is being followed properly rather than manipulating statistics to fit their misguided narrative that giving low-income New Yorkers the same privileges as wealthier people is somehow linked to crime. For the past two decades, New York City has reduced both its jail population and the use of cash bail, resulting in some of the lowest crime rates we have ever seen. No correlation could be or should be made to reforms that have been in place for only one month. We cannot let the distortions, falsehoods and purposeful fear-mongering that has spread over the past few weeks discredit these long-overdue changes."

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