Faced with rising rape and murder rates, New York City officials this week unveiled a plan to surge cops into trouble spots within the five boroughs in a bid to quash the burgeoning violence at its source.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said during a press conference Monday the department would be increasing patrols in particular Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods where murder rates have gone up. Cops also plan to expand programs designed to reduce gang violence and help ex-cons transition back to life outside of prison, and the district attorney's office vowed "extra strong prosecutions" for weapons possession violations.
The new initiatives come in light of a February report detailing a 50 percent murder increase so far in 2019 compared to the same time period in 2018. In the month of February alone, there were 24 murders, compared to 16 the previous year, NYPD statistics showed. In addition, the department recorded 285 reports of rape in the first two months of 2019 -- an 18.6 percent increase from 2018, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The number of shootings not resulting in death rose, too, with 22 people shot compared to 13 in 2018 -- a 69 percent jump.
"An increase in murders, shootings and rapes is always concerning," NYPD Chief Lori Pollack said on Monday. "One murder, one shooting, one rape is too many. But it is too early to say that this increase is indicative of a lasting trend."
The rise in rapes and murders this year comes, ironically, among a decrease in overall crime in the city, with reported instances of robbery, felony assault, grand larceny and other crimes all coming in below the 2018 numbers.
A few precincts, mostly in Brooklyn, account for a majority of the shootings and homicides this year. Through "precision deployment," additional officers will be sent to patrol the 34th, 43rd, 79th and 113th precincts in the Bronx, the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, and Jamaica, Queens, respectively. In Brooklyn, the NYPD said it plans to work with the District Attorney Eric Gonzalez to ensure strong prosecution of gun-related charges.
O’Neill said Monday he's looking forward to a collaborative effort between agencies to make New York safer.
“New York City has seen massive overall crime reductions over the years and I’m proud of the work our members on the ground do to continually focus – very precisely – on the real drivers of crime,” O'Neill said. “Through the next iteration of Neighborhood Policing, we are bringing together fellow city agencies, elected officials and neighborhood leaders to build trust, strengthen relationships and take action together to further drive down crime and violence.”