NYC crime still increasing, major crimes up 41%

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

New Yorkers elected Eric Adams as mayor in large part because of hopes that the former NYPD captain would bring a no-nonsense approach to fighting violent crime, especially compared to his predecessor Bill de Blasio. Two months in to Adams tenure, however, and there are few signs of a quick turnaround in the city’s crime rate. In fact, the numbers are still heading in the wrong direction.

Major crimes in New York City spiked nearly 60% in February compared to the same month in 2021 — a large majority occurring in a small swath of the metropolis — as Mayor Eric Adams rolled out his plan to combat gun violence and crime in the city.

The New York Police Department tracked increases across every major crime category. The city recorded a 41% increase in overall major crime through the first months of 2022 compared to the same period last year, including a nearly 54% increase in robberies, a 56% increase in grand larceny incidents and a 22% increase in rape reports, the data shows.

“We’ve got to get it right,” Adams said Friday. “Two months in, we’re executing our plan and we’re going to defeat crime. I’m clear on that.”

Murders increased by 10%, while citywide shooting incidents decreased by 1.3%, with 77 incidents in February 2021 and 76 incidents last month, NYPD data shows.

While crime is up overall across the city, there can be dramatic differences from one neighborhood to the next, as is evidenced in Harlem.

Across Harlem’s six police precincts, there were 1,153 crimes reported through Friday compared to 801 during the same window in 2021: a 44 percent increase. That’s roughly in line with the 47 percent increase observed citywide.

Each Harlem precinct has seen an increase: most dramatically, the 26th in West Harlem, where crime has more than doubled compared to last year.

Compare that to the 30th precinct, which also serves a portion of West Harlem, where the NYPD reports a much more modest 3% increase in reported crimes year-to-year.

Adams has said that his public safety strategy will focus resources on high-crime hot spots, and the NYPD’s revamped anti-gun unit will soon be patrolling in neighborhoods beset by violence, but it remains to be seen just how successful that strategy will be at actually reducing violence as opposed to going after individuals for mere possessory offenses like carrying a gun without a license. It’s easy for politicians to tout “getting guns off the street,” but unless police are targeting violent offenders, increasing the number of arrests is no guarantee of reducing the rate of shootings, robberies, and murders.

Republicans, meanwhile, see a chance to gain political ground if Democrats can’t get a handle on the issue.

A Siena College poll last month found 60% of New York voters think crime is a “very serious” issue in the state. Another 31% found it to be “somewhat serious.” Combine them, and that encompasses about 9 in 10 voters in the state.

“I think there’s no question that crime in February and March of 2022 is a major issue for voters right now,” said Steve Greenberg, Siena College’s political pollster.

The poll showed why Republicans think there is an opportunity to pick off Democratic and independent votes based on their tough-on-crime rhetoric. A total of 76% of Republicans said crime was a very serious issue, but so did 53% of Democrats and 58% of independents.

Crime rates are still well below their historic peak in New York City, but they’re trending in the wrong direction, and so far Adams’ rhetoric has not caught up with that reality. The one bright spot for New Yorkers is that the Supreme Court will hopefully soon strike down the state’s “may issue” carry laws and restore the right to bear arms in self-defense to millions of New Yorkers who are currently unable to protect themselves because of the arbitrary and subjective laws on the books. That alone likely won’t be enough to turn the tide of violence, but it will at least give law-abiding New Yorkers a fighting chance if they’re ever the target of a carjacker, mugger, or armed robber.