NYC Focus on Gangs Drops Annual Shootings Under 1,000

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A steep drop in gang violence last year drove shootings in New York City to the lowest total in a quarter-century, a result of what police officials say has been a focus on gang takedowns and targeted arrests in some of the city’s roughest neighborhoods, reports the New York Times. Gang-related shootings fell to 412 in 2016, from 560 the year before. Gang-related killings dropped to 79 in 2016, from 129 in 2015. Those drop-offs helped push citywide shootings to a new low of 998 by year’s end, down from 1,138 in 2015. Murders dropped to 335 from 352 the year before.

Scores of gang takedowns resulted in about 900 arrests, took violent people off the streets and made it more costly to engage in gang-related crimes, police officials said. “Precision policing targets those people who are responsible for the violence, which in a significant amount of cases are gangs,” said spokesman Stephen Davis. The police department, continuing to drive down crime even as it has pulled back from heavy low-level enforcement and aggressive tactics like stop-and-frisk,  has shown the value of focusing resources on stopping serious crime, said criminologist David Kennedy of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “New York City, in many ways, convinced the rest of the country that things like zero tolerance were the way to make communities safe,” he said. “And now it’s showing the country that you absolutely do not need to do that, you should not do it, and there are much, much better and less damaging ways to work with communities to produce public safety.”

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