Published 2:04 p.m. UTC Sep 5, 2018
New York City saw its safest summer on record this year, despite an increase in year-over-year murders in August, according to city officials.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the number of shootings dropped to 257, compared to 261 during the same three-month period a year ago, helped by August's record low of 76, the NYPD reported. The seven most serious crimes — murder, rape, felony assault, burglary, robbery, grand larceny and auto thefts — are down about 1 percent so far this year, police said.
"We all remember the concept of the long, hot summer, and we all looked with a certain dread towards July and August," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on Tuesday. "What the NYPD has done in August of 2018 to actually take shootings down even further is extraordinary."
Still, the metro area saw 23 murders in August, up from 17 last year, according to Lori Pollock, the chief of crime control strategies. Also, the number of reported rapes increased for the 12th consecutive month in the Big Apple, up 24 percent from last year. Pollock added that there was an uptick in people using the city's sexual assault reporting hotline.
“As we shift from summer to fall and our city’s children return to school, it’s important for all 8.6 million New Yorkers to renew their commitment to helping the NYPD keep every block safe, in every neighborhood,” Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said.
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The borough of Manhattan saw the most significant increase in murders, from one in August 2017 to five this year , according to Pollock. The Bronx, on the other hand, saw a 7 percent decrease in crimes and shootings.
Robberies were at record lows — falling 12.3 percent, while felony assaults and burglaries were virtually equal to last year's numbers.
Grand larceny increased by 59 crimes, driven by mailbox fishing, according to officials. The act typically involves people using basic tools covered with sticky substances to "fish" out mail from collection boxes.
Pollock credited the recent overall drop in crime to law enforcement's emphasis on targeting small gangs that are thought to be responsible for the majority of the offenses. Police have also cut crime by working with gang members to offer employment and education opportunities, she said.
Citywide, there were about 20,000 fewer arrests compared last year, according to de Blasio.
"2017 was a miraculous year in the eyes of many. It was a year that was supposed to be unbeatable," the mayor said. "The NYPD is showing that even the unbeatable year can be beaten."
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