QUEENS — The number of shootings in Jamaica have more than halved from last year, according to the latest NYPD crime statistics.
During the first four months of 2013, the number of murders, rapes and grand larcenies declined significantly in the two precincts that cover Jamaica, compared to the same period last year. The number of shootings declined by more than 50 percent.
“People feel that if I come to Jamaica I’m gonna get shot, my car is gonna get stolen, my purse is gonna get snatched,” said Yvonne Reddick, district manager of Community Board 12. “And that’s not the truth, that’s not Jamaica.”
The negative perception, she says, affects the neighborhood which has been undergoing many positive changes.
In recent years, there has been a rezoning covering 368 blocks, that encouraged many new developments in the area, including hotels and residential buildings.
For the period ending April 21, overall crime in the 103rd Precinct, which includes the Jamaica business district and Hollis, declined by 2.34 percent.
Murders went down by 50 percent (there was 1 murder this year, compared to 2 during the same period last year), rapes decreased by 30 percent (there were 9 this year, compared to 13 last year) and grand larcenies dropped by 37 percent (there were 97 incidents this year, compared to 156 during the same period last year).
Although the numbers of robberies, felony assaults, auto thefts and burglaries have increased, the number of shootings in the 103rd Precinct fell from 11 last year to 5 this year, a decrease of 54 percent.
In the 113th Precinct, which covers St. Albans, South Jamaica and Hollis, overall crime went down by more than 20 percent.
The decrease was noticed in all major crime categories except robberies.
Murders are down 71 percent (there were 2 murders this year, compared to 7 during the same period last year), rapes dropped by 30 percent (there were 7 this year, compared to 10 last year), and auto thefts decreased by 57 percent (there were 34 incidents this year, compared to 80 last year).
The number of shootings in the 113th Precinct declined by 61 percent, from 18 last year to 7 this year.
Local Council Member Leroy Comrie said his office has held interventions, forums on stop-and-frisks and outreach programs “in some of the areas that had the highest amount of shootings (...) to talk to people about violence.”
“The police have worked hard to do more outreach programs as well,” he said.
Comrie also said the neighborhood still needs more after-school and evening recreational programming, but the changes happening in Jamaica positively affect residents’ lifestyle.
“If the person has no fear of being around or being assaulted, they will definitely spend more time outdoors or engage in outdoor activities and enjoy the streets and the parks," he said. "And there has been an increase of that.”
Local businesses said they also welcome the decline in the number of shootings.
“If you have less crime in the area, it works out better for businesses,” said Simone Price, Executive Director of the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District.
“Jamaica is doing really great in terms of new infrastructure and new development,” she said.
According to statistics provided by the Sutphin Boulevard BID, the neighborhood gets 260,000 visitors a day.
“We are literally a gateway to the world,” said Price about the neighborhood which has a robust business district featuring dozens of stores. It also has the AirTrain and and LIRR connections as well as four subway lines and 43 bus routes.
“It’s a bustling community, it has so much to offer,” Price said.