NYC murders, shootings, subway crime dropped in February, continuing downward trend, say NYPD brass
Crime stats in the subways and the neighborhoods they serve are finally moving in the right direction, with notable reductions in serious crimes, and safer days right around the corner, NYPD officials said Friday.
“When you go around the city now you see so many people out and about — so many people in restaurants, so many people walking the streets,” said Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell. “It definitely feels different. I think the overall feeling in this city is it’s getting better.
“I think there’s a marked difference from where we were this time last year.”
In February, there were 519 fewer of the seven felonies that comprise the crime rate compared to February 2022, good for a 6% drop.
Murders dropped 28% citywide last month, as police counted 26 murders compared to 36 reported in February 2022, according to the stats. Rapes dropped 22%, burglaries 15% and robberies 11% last month compared to February 2022, according to the police.
Shootings also fell, 15%, from 75 in February 2022 to 64 in February 2023, with Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LiPetri noting there were zero shootings last month in three commands typically among the most violent. They included the Bronx’s 40th Precinct, which covers Mott Haven, the Bronx’s 47th Precinct, which covers Williamsbridge and Edenwald, and Brooklyn’s 73rd Precinct, which covers Brownsville.
Subway crime dropped 9%, from 189 serious incidents in February 2022 to 169 in February 2023, the NYPD said, part of a trend that began in late October, when another wave of cops was assigned to the beleaguered system.
Optimistic police officials said the numbers don’t lie — but cynical New Yorkers weren’t buying them.
“No way,” said Damon Williams, 58, a building superintendent who lives in the Bronx. “First of all, a guy got shot in the head right in front of my building on Sunday.”
Williams said the new crime stats won’t do much to comfort the family of Achilles Baskin, 25, who was gunned down that day near the corner of Bathgate Ave. and E. 183rd St. in Belmont.
“And what about that cop who got shot and killed buying a car?” Williams said. “So that’s what the commissioner is saying? really?
“Crime is happening every day right in front of me,” he said. “Right where I work and right where I live. Nothing has changed at all.”
Neisha Whittingham, 39, a hospital worker from Harlem, said she is still scared to go out after dark.
“You go out late at night and people are still trying to rob you,” Whittingham said. “It’s primarily the mentally ill and the homeless. Even in Midtown, they’re everywhere. I see the police at some subway stations and they make announcements about them. But it doesn’t matter to the mentally Ill, the homeless and people who will rob you — they don’t care.”
Cops concede that misdemeanor assaults are still a problem — which were up 8% on the streets and 13% in the subway system in February 2023 when compared to February 2022. The same goes for petty larcenies, up 6% above ground and 44% below over the same time periods.
LiPetri said shoplifting, which soared during the pandemic, dropped in February.
The recent declines in crime follow nearly three years of a surge in crime, particularly in shootings, that began in 2020.
Last February, the NYPD assigned 1,000 more cops to the subway system and promised a renewed focus on quality-of-life offenses, with services provided for the homeless and mentally ill.
A month later, it established the Neighborhood Safety Unit, tasking its officers with getting guns off the street, and announced a renewed focus on quality-of-life infractions.
Police have said the unit has helped tamp down gun violence in various neighborhoods, though the crime rate is still up significantly compared to 2019.
More than anything, LiPetri credited fundamental police work — making arrests in major crimes — for the reduction in crime.
“Seven major arrests for February [are] at a 23-year high. Seven major arrests for the year [are] at a 24-year high,” he said. “Quality-of-life enforcement is up over 300% in New York City. And the [type of] enforcement that we’re focused on is the calls that we’re receiving from the community, mostly consumption of alcohol, disorderly groups and public urination.”
But New Yorkers don’t think it’s enough.
“Crme is not down,” said Destiny Saunders, 38, a home health aide from the Bronx. “You can’t even be outside. You’ve got to be watching all the time. You never know what’s going to happen to you.
“If you going to put more police on it, you’ve got to put them everywhere, not just on subway platform, but everywhere. How is that even possible?”
Even with the reduction in lawlessness, the commissioner would still like to tweak the recent changes to bail laws.
Sewell sounded cautiously optimistic saying the city can return to the days of record crime lows.
“I’m going to advocate for the changes that we’re looking for,” she said. “I would not lock myself into saying this is a new normal, at all.”