Brooklyn Boro

In 2019, fewer than 100 murders in Brooklyn for the second year in a row

January 3, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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There were fewer than 100 murders in Brooklyn for the second year in a row in 2019, while the number of shooting incidents dropped 6.8 percent in the borough, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced on Friday.

The year of 2018 saw a record-low 98 murders, while 2019 saw 99. The number of shootings in the borough decreased even as it rose by three percent in the rest of the city. Murders citywide were up 7.8 percent on the year.

Gonzalez credited his own office, new criminal justice reforms and the police department for the numbers. “In the past year, we continued to prove that criminal justice reforms do not jeopardize public safety – but rather enhance it,” he said in a statement. “Thanks to the NYPD and to my hard-working prosecutors, violent crime keeps going down in Brooklyn.”

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While many prosecutors across the state are speaking out against bail and discovery reform, Gonzalez’s office implemented many of the reforms prior to them going into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

“We again led the way in implementing initiatives ahead of the city and state, including declining to ask for bail in most misdemeanors and offering more ways to resolve low-level offenses without a court appearance — which lowered the jail population significantly, kept individuals with their families and did not lead to an increase in crime,” Gonzalez said. “I am committed to making headway in my Justice 2020 action plan to keep Brooklyn safe and strengthen community trust by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all.”

Gonzalez’s office pointed out that even though technically there were more murders in 2019, nine of those occurred in 2018, but were reclassified as homicides — meaning that the number is actually at 90 for the year.

Sixty-three of the murders were due to shootings and 36 were by other means, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The number of shooting incidents — 290 — is a 6.8 percent drop from 2018 and four short of a record low, which occurred in 2017.

The number of arrests in Brooklyn has dropped drastically in recent years — from 87,607 in 2016 to 58,288 in 2019.

Even as arrest rates dropped, the District Attorney’s Office asked for bail in only 7 percent of misdemeanor cases in 2019. Additionally, 254 cases were dismissed as part of the Brooklyn CLEAR program, and 420 misdemeanor cases were not prosecuted as part of ProjectReset, two programs aimed at getting people into programs rather than going to arraignment.

In his announcement on Friday, Gonzalez touted his Justice 2020 plan as a reason for the low crime rates. He also pointed to the creation of the post-conviction justice bureau, which reviews parole applications, among other things, and the launch of the Community Resource Empowerment Center, which provides educational and vocational opportunities for those reentering the community, as reasons to believe that these trends will continue.

Criminal defense attorney Michael Farkas, a past president of the Kings County Criminal Bar Association, called Gonzalez’s office a model for the country.

“The historically low homicide rate is a validation of both the Brooklyn DA’s and the NYPD’s cooperative and progressive approaches to law enforcement,” Farkas said. “It’s yet another prime example of how Eric Gonzalez’s focus on prevention and community renewal continues to experience unprecedented success and remains a model for cities across the country.”

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