Brooklyn Boro

Overall crime down, murders up citywide and in Brooklyn

COVID-19 increases stress levels, sometimes leading to violence

January 11, 2021 Raanan Geberer

New York City and its Police Department were buffeted by conflicting forces in 2020, as a historic low in overall index crime was accompanied by significant upticks in homicides, shootings, burglaries and car thefts. 

These trends are reflected in the stats for Patrol Borough Brooklyn North and Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, the NYPD’s two divisions for Brooklyn precincts. The names are somewhat confusing — the boundaries are roughly Atlantic Avenue, Fulton Street and Eastern Parkway. So several neighborhoods that are geographically in the northern part of Brooklyn, such as Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Park Slope, are part of Brooklyn South.

In calendar year 2020, overall crime citywide was lower than in 2019, dropping to a new benchmark of 95,552 reported incidents – representing 681 fewer victims than last year and 11,668 fewer victims than in 2014. 

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In Brooklyn North, overall crime was down 1.42 percent year to date over last year, while in Brooklyn South, overall crime decreased 1.12 percent year to date over last year.

At the same time, the NYPD in 2020 confronted a citywide 97 percent (1,531 v. 777) increase in shooting incidents and a 44 percent increase in the number of murders (462 v. 319) amid the challenges of an ongoing international health pandemic that has strained city residents and the police officers alike. 

Police investigate after a New York City police officer was shot while responding to a domestic violence call in Crown Heights on Christmas Eve. AP photo by Craig Rutle

In Brooklyn North, the number of murders increased 57 percent, from 65 in 2019 to 102 this year. And in Brooklyn South, the number of murders increased 94.1 percent, from 34 in 2019 to 242 this year.

Burglaries citywide increased by 42 percent (15,463 v. 10,909) and car thefts citywide increased by 67 percent (9.038 v. 5,422), NYPD statistics report. In Brooklyn North, burglaries increased by 30 percent, from 2,015 to 2,621, while in Brooklyn South, they increased by 25 percent, from 1,548 to 1,938.

Within Brooklyn itself, statistics varied widely from precinct to precinct. For example in the 90th Precinct (Williamsburg) murders decreased 40 percent, while in 75th Precinct (East New York), they went up 160 percent. 

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As for burglaries, they increased 9 percent in the 78th Precinct (Park Slope), but they increased by much more, 58 percent, in the 60th Precinct (Coney Island).

Cops formed a human barrier during this clash earlier this year in Bay Ridge. Eagle file photo by Ted General

Through it all, the NYPD has worked to mitigate violent crimes, as reflected in a 29 percent increase (4,253 v. 3,299) in annual gun arrests for 2020 compared with 2019 — including 2,057 gun arrests in the last four months of the year.

Unprecedented events of 2020 presented significant challenges for New York City and its police. From a diminished headcount beginning at the onset of COVID-19 to large-scale protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd in May, the NYPD’s resources were stretched further than at any time in recent memory. In addition, police conduct during the George Floyd protests came under scrutiny, and allegations of brutality led to several lawsuits.

The NYPD made an arrest in 32 percent of shooting incidents and established probable cause to arrest a suspect in an additional 6 percent of shooting incidents. On murders, NYPD detectives cleared 54 percent of homicides that occurred within calendar 2020, according to the NYPD.

“What New York City and our nation experienced in 2020 will resonate for a long, long time,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “The NYPD recognizes this as a time for asking and answering difficult questions, for reflection and action and for encouraging and serving New Yorkers. This will determine the way forward for all of us.”


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