The New York Police Department’s success in recent years in cracking down on the city’s violent crime rate has been a boon to the city, but in the wake of the murders of two joggers earlier this year, the city’s response could be waning.
The death of Karina Vetrano, 30, in August — who police said was raped and beaten on a jogging path in Howard Beach, Queens — was followed by the arrest and the conviction of Chanel Lewis, 22, in the murder of Shannan Gilbert, 23, in October 2015, authorities say.
Those two slayings were followed by a rash of burglaries and other crimes in the neighborhood, prompting some NYPD brass to call for vigilance, like increased foot patrols on the streets, in order to beef up safety, CNN New York’s Sara Sidner reported.
“The administration’s said to our commanders, you know, ‘When we send you cops out onto the street, you are in charge,’” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said in January. “There’s no second-guessing, ‘Maybe I didn’t get enough. Maybe I didn’t give enough,’ or ‘Maybe I should have sent cops back home.’ It’s their duty.”
However, in some cases, only a handful of “crime watches” were established after the murder of Vetrano and Gilbert.
“The new tactic of running patrols has become an albatross,” Sidner wrote in a March article. “Even those who praise such measures are leery of claiming that crime has declined when the number of reports continues to be lower than the number of patrols.”
As of March, there were 20,628 crime reports in New York City, down 15.6% from the same time last year, the NYPD said. The number of patrol officers on the streets has also fallen 18.6% to 5,487.
Despite the declining numbers, the number of detectives assigned to criminal investigation has fallen by 19% from 2,065 to 1,766, sources told CNN.
Murder cases across the city, which have also declined in number, have fallen, but are at record lows, according to the police department. Last year, the NYPD investigated 299 murder cases, down from 421 in 2015.