Caban delivers State of the NYPD Address amid rise in felony assault, grand larceny in NYC

Janice Yu Image
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
State of the NYPD address raises questions about city safety
N.J. Burkett has the report.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City Police Commissioner Edward Caban delivered his first State of the NYPD Address on Wednesday.

The commissioner and other leaders within the NYPD touted the progress the department has made -- including the use of new technology, increasing patrols and old-fashioned detective work made an impact on crime throughout the city.

New York City ended last year on an encouraging note as there was a 12% decrease in homicides from the previous year.

Underground, there were fewer crimes in the New York City transit system last year than there were before the pandemic, down by 9.5%. The NYPD's strategy of surging hundreds of officers into the subway appears to have paid off. Arrests, especially for fare evasion, are up dramatically.

Police officials are crediting the new technology, operational processes, relationships with communities for the positive trend and they say they'll continue to rely on and improve on these things.

"The state of the NYPD is strong, the actions of New York's Finest over the last few weeks alone has been a showcase of incredible bravery, fortitude and intelligence," Caban said. "Overall crime down, murder, rape, robbery down, burglaries, shootings and transit crimes -- all down in 2023."

However, a month into the new year, murder, robbery, felony assault and grand larceny are up compared to this time last year. And despite the recent trend, most crime is still higher than it was before the pandemic.

Since 2019, overall crime is still up 32% - fueled by robberies and felony assaults.

"That needs to be our goal. We need to get crime back down to pre-COVID levels and then drive it down further from there," said Richard Aborn, who is with the non-partisan Citizens Crime Commission.

The department is also facing new challenges with the ongoing migrant crisis throughout the city.

Just over the weekend, two officers were attacked by a group of migrants in Times Square while asking the group to break up. Five people were arrested and police continue to search for seven more.

The police union says this type of violence is far too common.

The president of the Police Benevolent Association posted a statement that said in part, "It is impossible for police officers to deal effectively with crime and disorder if the justice system can't or won't protect us while we do that work."

To help understand and handle the migrant crisis and issues, the NYPD announced two new officers will be stationed in Bogota, Colombia, and in Tucson, Arizona.

These officers will serve as eyes on the ground and provide ongoing information.

"These posts will help the NYPD address the myriad of issues coming across the southern border. From guns, to drugs, to people. We will be working with the Colombian National Police in Bogota," Deputy Commissioner Rebecca Weiner said. "In Tucson, we are going to be joining a state-of-the-art interagency facility run by Customs and Border Protection that combines state, local and federal officials. We are quite confident that the relationships that will forge, and the intelligence that will glean, will be vital to protecting our city."

The International Liaison Program established 18 intelligence posts around the world "to stay ahead of threats in our own five boroughs."

Weiner said the NYPD's officer stationed in Tel Aviv has been invaluable in understanding the Israel-Hamas war, and how it is reverberating in protests and other ways back home.

The department is also facing new layers of oversight, after the How Many Stops Act was adopted by the City Council.

"When police are held accountable, when they have to tell us what they're doing, they will behave themselves," said Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The PBA president disagreed.

"Police officers are leaving on a daily basis," PBA President Patrick Hendry said. "Our members are at their breaking point and, you know, what happened yesterday just adds another layer to it."

But the department's greatest obstacle may be the public's perception of crime.

This is our challenge. So, our goal-in our constant focus-is for riders to get from point A to point B without being confronted by crime, lawlessness or disorder. And ultimately, while feeling safe," said NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Michael Kemper.

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