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New NYPD commissioner: Crime down, safest September in years

Also: Nothing to fear from ‘creepy clowns’

October 3, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O'Neill at a press conference at One Police Plaza on Monday to discuss the latest crime statistics. Photo Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
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NYC Police Commissioner James O’Neill had a positive message to share in his first monthly report on New York City’s crime statistics on Monday: crime continues to fall across the city, with significant decreases in murder, burglary, grand larceny, rape and other major crimes.

Joining the commissioner in the presentation on September’s Compstat numbers, Mayor Bill de Blasio said it had been “the safest summer in decades,” and that New York City remains “the safest big city in America.”

Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counter-terrorism John Miller also assured New Yorkers that there was nothing to fear from creepy clowns.

Preliminary figures indicate that there were 2,322 fewer index crimes reported year-to-date, down 3 percent, compared with 2015. Index crimes include murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

In addition, there have been 97 fewer shootings year-to-date, down 10.9 percent. Though down for the year overall, however, shootings were up in the month of September by 10.2 percent, compared to September 2015.

There have been 10 fewer murders year-to-date, down 3.7 percent compared to 2015. Robbery is down 7.2 percent.

The month of September 2016 was the safest September in the entire Compstat era, the mayor said, with 1,163 fewer total index crimes reported, down 12.1 percent compared with September 2015. (The only major crime category that increased in September was shootings.)

Stop-and-frisk, neighborhood policing

De Blasio said he wanted to “dispel the misinformation we heard last week” at the presidential debate at Hofstra University, where candidate Donald Trump claimed that increasing stop-and-frisk would lead to a reduction in crime.

In New York City there has been a 97 percent decrease in the use of stop-and-frisk techniques since its height in 2011, de Blasio said. “This reduction has been accompanied by a consistent reduction in crime overall and an increase in the seizure of guns,” he said.

The city continues to roll out its neighborhood policing program, O’Neill said. The program will be put in place in 51 percent of precincts by the end of October.

“Neighborhood policing is the way we’re going to move forward,” O’Neill said.

De Blasio said that neighborhood policing “changes the whole dynamic” of a neighborhood. “People can call officers” who know the neighborhood, he said. “I’m hearing that residents are offering tips.”

Chief of Department Carlos Gomez said that the NYPD was currently adding nine patrol precincts and three housing commands to the neighborhood policing program, which commenced in May 2015.

In Brooklyn, precincts joining the program include the 60th, 69th, 84th and 88th precincts, along with PSA 1 (housing), bringing the total to 44 commands (35 precincts and nine PSA housing commands).

The force is also well on its way to employing 2,000 additional officers, which were included in the June 2015 budget.

Deputy Commissioner Dermit Shea said one area of weakness was an increase in the number of domestic crimes, which are up 2 to 3 percent overall in the city.

“Last week there were 10 homicides; five were domestic,” he said. Two of the victims had active orders of protection. “This is unacceptable,” he said.

About those creepy clowns

The officials also addressed the intensifying creepy clown issue.

Across the country scary clowns have been threatening and even attacking people. An Ohio school district closed on Friday after clowns made threats against the schools, according to International Business Times. Another school district in Tampa was put on alert after police received multiple calls reporting creepy clowns, according to Esquire Magazine.

A woman reported being attacked by a man wearing a clown outfit and makeup who also threatened students in the Reading Community City School District near Cincinnati.

Miller told reporters at Monday’s presser that this trend, which includes “threats, crimes and Facebook threats” has taken place across 20 states, “and there have been a couple of incidents on Long Island.”

NYPD’s Threat Analysis Unit has determined that so far, none of threats in New York City are credible, however. There has been no extra police presence as a result, Miller said — though the threats may intensify as Halloween approaches, he speculated.

Miller’s advice to the residents of New York City?

“Don’t believe the hype and don’t be afraid of the clowns.”

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