NEW YORK – New York City is on pace this year for fewer than 100,000 reported major crimes for the first time in at least two decades, officials said Wednesday.
For the first six months of 2015 there were 46,775 reports of rapes, robberies, felony assaults, burglaries, grand larcenies and auto theft, said Dermott Shea, deputy commissioner for operations of the New York Police Department. Overall crime is down 6 percent, but shootings and murder remain up this year.
The NYPD hasn't fallen below 100,000 reported major crimes at least since similar record-keeping began in 1994, Shea said.
"This is a good time for the department," Police Commissioner William Bratton said, coming off the news last week that he could hire 1,297 new officers and was making major changes to how precincts operate. "We have a lot of resources to work with, we have a lot of momentum and we have a plan we're going to be able to fully implement in a timely fashion."
A crime increase last month gave ammunition to critics of Mayor Bill de Blasio who blasted policy shifts they feel have left the city less safe. In particular, opponents blamed the violence on the mayor's decision to enforce a federal judge's demand that the city curb the use of stop and frisk.
There were 7,125 stops during the first quarter of the year. During the same time last year, there were 14,261 stops.
Officers have also made about 35,000 fewer arrests this year and 47,000 fewer criminal court summonses, officials said. Complaints made to the police watchdog agency on officer misconduct are also down.
De Blasio said Wednesday said the numbers taken together show "we can bring police and community closer together while keeping New York City the safest big city in America."
"NYPD's crime-fighting strategies are already making a difference — and we will keep working to drive crime down even further in the months to come," he said.
Bratton said the hiring of new officers was not a knee-jerk reaction to the increase in shootings and homicides but rather part of an overall plan to restaff precincts and work on community relations. He said Wednesday that he was doing away with a signature crime-fighting program known as "Operation Impact" that funneled new recruits into high-crime zones. He said the program was frustrating for rookies, who were forced into the highest-crime zones without any real supervision or training, and for those in the communities, who felt overpoliced and bullied by officers who weren't properly supervised.