Shootings in New York City have nearly doubled this year while arrests for major crimes have plummeted, the Wall Street Journal reports. From Jan 1. through Sunday, the city has recorded 1,359 shootings, an increase of nearly 95 percent from the 698 in the same period last year. The number of shooting victims rose to 1,667 from 828. Arrests for major crimes have fallen by nearly 13 percent, driven by drops for every major category except burglaries, car thefts and gun-related crimes. Arrests for crimes involving guns are up nearly 19 percent this year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio attributed the rise in shootings and the drop in arrests to factors related to the coronavirus pandemic, citing the closure of businesses, schools and houses of worship as factors that created a “perfect storm.” “A lot of things we depend on to keep people safe and stable weren’t there,” he said. The year-over-year increase in shootings and murders is more pronounced than any in more than two decades. Murders rose more than 37 percent, with 405 reported between Jan. 1 and Sunday, compared with 295 in the same period in 2019. Criminologists and law-enforcement officials have cited various factors for the rise in violent crimes, including a backlogged court system, changes to bail laws and the decrease in arrests. NYPD officials blamed the drop in arrests on a shortage of officers caused by dramatic increases in officers calling in sick amid the pandemic as well as staffing cuts. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said officers were making progress in fighting the rise in shootings, citing an increase in gun arrests that began in September.