Shootings on the Rise in NYC

by Charles C. W. Cooke

Shootings in New York City seem to be on the rise, Fox reports:

Faced with a surge in shootings at the city’s public housing, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday detailed a $210 million to plan to improve safety at the buildings, which more than 400,000 people call home.

Even as crime has dropped slightly citywide, shootings have gone up 31 percent so far this year in New York City Housing Authority buildings. An outsized portion of that spike has been centered in 15 troublesome projects, which are responsible for 20 percent of the violent crime this year across 334 NYCHA developments.

“We are making investments in our public housing — investments that should have been made long ago,” de Blasio said at an East Harlem development. “You know the phrase, ‘He who hesitates is lost’? We are not interested in hesitation.”

CBS wonders if the spike is just random, as Police Commissioner William Bratton has suggested, or if it’s the product of a change in policing tactics:

So could there be a link in the drop in stops and the recent spike in shootings?

“Potentially, sure, but you have to use caution in looking at a particular weekend or set of weekends in declaring the sky is falling,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City police officer and professor of law and police studies at John Jay College.

It can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of short-term spikes in crime, O’Donnell said, and it’s not uncommon for weekends in the summer to be marked by violence in New York.

However, O’Donnell said that people who carry guns are often the first to be aware of changes in police tactics, and the publicity surrounding the drop in stops may have emboldened some criminals.

“There is a risk in a perception that the police have stood down in communities where gun violence is a big issue,” he said.

Last weekend marked the third weekend in June that at least a dozen people were shot in the city, according to police. In the last week of June, 35 people were shot, down from 39 gunshot victims the same week a year ago, according to New York Police Department statistics. A breakdown between those killed and those wounded was not immediately available.

This year, 611 people have been shot in the city compared with 554 for the same period last year.

Time will tell.

My only hope is that if the trend does continue — and if the evidence suggests that it is linked to the decline of stop and frisk — those who oppose the policy (such as myself) will be honest enough to acknowledge it. Doing so does not require that one change one’s mind on the matter. Liberty and security are often at odds, and, in free countries at least, “but it works” is never enough to justify a particular measure. It is wholly possible to consider stop and frisk to be illegal, and to consider it an effective tool in fighting crime. Still, we should be open about what we’re arguing for. If the two are linked, let’s own it.

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