After Big Jump, Crown Heights' 71st Precinct Sees Dramatic Drop in Crime

By Sonja Sharp on October 18, 2013 3:24pm 

 Officers of the month pose with 71st Precinct Commander Deputy Inspector John Lewis. After weathering one of the most dramatic crime increases in New York City this year, the precinct is on track to break even with its crime rate in 2012. 
Officers of the month pose with 71st Precinct Commander Deputy Inspector John Lewis. After weathering one of the most dramatic crime increases in New York City this year, the precinct is on track to break even with its crime rate in 2012. 
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DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp

CROWN HEIGHTS — What goes up, must come down.

After a surge in shootings, robberies and assaults, the 71st Precinct is celebrating a dramatic, across-the-board drop in crime.

"The start to the year was very, very tough,"  Deputy Inspector John Lewis, the precinct's commander, told residents at the precinct community council meeting Thursday. "I think we had the greatest increase [in crime] in the city back in April, May and June. We would get called down to headquarters to explain what was going on — we got grilled plenty of times on it."

But as of autumn, police believe they've finally stemmed the tide of mayhem that began in January and lasted through the spring. 

"In June, we were up 25 percent," Lewis said. "Right now, the crime rate is the same as it was in 2012, which means we went from a 25 percent crime increase to none."

Lewis credited the falling crime rate to a strategic deployment of extra resources from around Brooklyn South, combined with a series of critical arrests that landed longtime neighborhood troublemakers behind bars. The drop in shootings has been a particular point of pride for the precinct.

"We haven’t had a shooting since Labor Day. If you discount the incident on Labor Day, we’ve only had two shootings since June 22," Lewis said.  "Out of 19 shootings, they’ve had arrests on seven. Eleven or 12 people were arrested, and every one of those people are in jail."

Problems remain, particularly with robberies, which spiked in the spring and are still up slightly for the year despite decreasing dramatically in the past 28 days.

"Back in March and April and May, we were having an awful lot of robberies," Lewis said.

"We’ve seen a decrease in robberies, but when we do see a robbery, it’s almost always the same thing: We get kids getting robbed after school. Generally it’s young kids who go to primary schools or intermediate schools and they’re being prayed upon by 16 year olds or 17 year olds that are taking their electronics or cash."

But Lewis said even robberies may be ebbing.

"The one we’re most concerned about and the one that’s easiest for us to fight is the phone snatch, the bag snatch, the chain snatch, and that’s the one we’ve been able to bring way way down," Lewis said.

"The news on the crime front is very, very good here in the 71st Precinct."

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