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Homicides and Shootings Fell in New York City as Felony Assaults Rose

Overall crime fell slightly in New York City last year compared with 2022, though the number of felony assaults and car thefts remained stubbornly high, the police said on Wednesday.

The city saw significant drops in the number of shootings and murders, as well as in robberies, burglaries, sexual assaults and grand larcenies — all categories described as major crimes.

The drop in gun violence and homicides occurred as other cities like Detroit, Philadelphia and Los Angeles also saw sharp declines in the number of murders and other major crimes.

Mayor Eric Adams of New York lauded the Police Department and touted the decrease as a sign that the city was making progress in improving public safety and increasing the perception that New York is safe.

“I’ll say it over and over again until we all believe it and see it and hear it,” he said at a news conference at Police Department headquarters on Wednesday. “Crime is down. Jobs are up, and tourists are back in our city.”

The total number of crimes fell 0.3 percent in the city, and arrests rose by nearly 20 percent.

Commissioner Edward Caban, who took over the department in July after the abrupt resignation of Commissioner Keechant Sewell, said the police had seized more than 13,000 illegal guns in the last two years, an accomplishment he said had “ripple effects” on overall crime.

“Of course, we’re not finished,” Commissioner Caban said, adding, “Your cops continue to be out there in every neighborhood taking violent criminals off our streets.”

Shootings were down in all five boroughs. Last year, about 400 fewer people were shot than in 2022, when 1,566 were shot.

There were 386 homicides in 2023, a 12 percent drop from 2022.

But last year also saw the persistence of a troubling trend in the number of killings and shootings of people under 18.

On Tuesday, that pattern continued in Brooklyn, where a 15-year-old boy was fatally shot while visiting friends at the Bayview Houses in Canarsie, where he used to live.

The boy, Javel Lawton, was shot after around five people approached him as he was walking out of the housing complex, said Joseph Kenny, the Police Department’s chief of detectives.

The group of men approached Javel and apparently began arguing, Chief Kenny said. One pulled out a pistol and shot five rounds. Javel, who also had a firearm, shot back but did not hit anyone. He was pronounced dead at Brookdale Hospital.

The rise in felony assaults also continued to trouble the police. There were 27,849 felony assaults in 2023, an increase of more than 1,650 from 2022. Over a third of those cases involved victims of domestic violence.

Officials said assaults against police officers also contributed to the increase. More than 2,235 police officers were assaulted, 350 more than in 2022, the police said.

Christopher Herrmann, an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said researchers needed “more detailed data about where these assaults are happening to understand why they are happening.”

But Mayor Adams blamed the rise in police assaults on a criminal system that had become less punitive.

“We don’t hold people to a high accountability when they assault law enforcement,” he said.

He also appeared to take a swipe at a bill passed last month by the City Council that would require police officers to log any time they stop a person on the street while investigating a crime.

On Wednesday, Mr. Adams said his administration would push back on “any form of making our officers not do police work and do paperwork.”

Mr. Adams said critics of the police were out of touch with “working New Yorkers,” and he mentioned Jumaane Williams, the city’s public advocate, who supported the bill. The mayor described Mr. Williams as an insulated official who “lives in a fort,” doesn’t take the subway and is driven by a police detail. (Mr. Adams also has a police detail.)

Mr. Williams held his own news conference to respond, calling Mr. Adams’s statements those of a “a 5-year-old throwing a temper tantrum” and noting that it was his understanding that the mayor “lives in New Jersey with his girlfriend.”

The measure, Mr. Williams said, is a “simple transparency bill” that would provide “some kind of basic record of the kind of stops that our law enforcement are doing.”

The police also blamed criminal justice reform measures for the rise in car thefts.

Last year, officials blamed the increase of car thefts on TikTok videos that showed how to steal Kias and Hyundais, the models that are among the most frequently stolen.

But on Wednesday, Chief Michael Lipetri said it had become harder for people arrested on charges of grand larceny auto to be held on bail.

The comments do not reflect what the data shows: that crime is down after bail reform, said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“It’s great that crime is down in New York City, but we’re dealing with a mayor who whatever the data says, presses for more cops,” Ms. Lieberman said.

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