WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
The NYPD's latest numbers show homicides are on track for a 5 percent decline over last year, though overall crime is at about the same level. But a precinct by precinct evaluation shows some significant swings in both directions.
As of this week, the city posted 490 homicides citywide compared to 519 by the same point of the year in 2010. That is more than a five percent drop.
Every borough but the Bronx posted an overall decline in homicides. In the Bronx there was a spike from 139 this year, up from the 123 last year.
Sill, compared to 1990, where there were 653 killings in the Bronx alone, and 2,200 murders citywide. The latest statistics, in the aggregate, are considered good news for the city.
This year, out of the city's 82 precincts, murder was up in 24 precincts, down in 33, and on track to remain the same in 15.
The range of decrease and increase can be quite pronounced. In Brooklyn's 61st precinct, homicides jumped from six to 14, while, in Brooklyn's 60th, the number of murders is on track to drop from ten last year to five for the current year.
Similar ranges were posted in Manhattan where the 7th precinct in the Lower Eastside saw murders jump from one to five, while the nearby 9th experienced the opposite trend going from four killings in 2010 to just one so far this year.
City Council Public Safety Chair Peter Vallone is concerned that there are troubling signs at the local precinct level, that there has been some back sliding, with some districts seeing these double digit spikes in different crimes, including murder and rape.
“At every precinct you got to different crimes are spiking, different areas of the city are experiencing surges in different crimes and that is something we have not seen in decades. Normally all crime is going down every year," Vallone said in a phone interview.
Vallone said the latest NYPD staffing numbers he has seen indicate that, even with this week's police academy graduating class, the Department will fall below its current 34,700 troop strength which he says is inadequate. It is well below its 41,000 total in 2001.
And, Vallone notes, since 2001 a much smaller NYPD has committed a thousand officers to its counter-terrorism strategy. Vallone says he plans on oversight hearings to zero in on the local crime spikes.