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Serious Crime Dips in NYC Amid Decline in 'Stop-and-Frisk,' Sources Say

By Murray Weiss | March 4, 2014 12:42pm
 Bill Bratton speaking before Lower Manhattan group in March 2012.
Bill Bratton speaking before Lower Manhattan group in March 2012.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

ONE POLICE PLAZA — Serious crime in the Big Apple is down so far this year with murders and robberies dropping despite the declining number of stop-and-frisks, which some former police officials have said are necessary to maintain order in the city.

Sources said that the number of stop-and-frisks has continued to decline in 2014 after seeing record numbers during the Bloomberg administration years. Exact numbers for this year were not immediately available, but the rate was on track to be lower than the 12,495 stops in the last quarter of 2013.

That's a staggering 86-percent drop from the 89,620 stops during the last quarter of 2012 and the record 686,000 stops in 2011.

The number of murders in the city has fallen by 18.5 percent so far this year through March 2, with 44 killings compared to 54 during the same period last year.

Shootings were also down sharply, off 13.5 percent to 128 compared to the same period in 2013.

Rapes and robberies were down about 7 percent and burglary and grand larceny are also down 4.4 percent each, statistics show.

Of the seven major crime categories, two have risen. Assault is up 6.3 percent, from 2,825 incidents to 3,004, and car thefts are up 11.3 percent, from 1,012 to 1,126.

Overall, serious crime is down 2.2 percent, from 16,678 to 16,317 since the New Year.

The decline in crime and frisks is a win-win for both the advocates of New York’s Finest and the critics who believe that the excessive levels of stop-and-frisks during the Bloomberg era undermined the effectiveness of the city’s 35,000 officers to combat crime.

Experts say the downward trend in stops continues to show that crime in the city can be held in check or even driven lower without the emphasis on stop-and-frisk.

The new police commissioner, Bill Bratton, pointed out that the unusually chilly winter may also be playing a role in the overall crime decline, but experts say targeted programs against gangs and neighborhood crime spikes are the more likely explanation.

“The best cops are Officer Snow and Officer Ice,” quipped Thomas Reppetto, an NYPD expert and author of "American Police: Volume II, 1945-2012.  “But when crime is down, you take it when you can.”

Bratton noted last week that the ratio of arrests to stops has also increased even as the number of interactions continued to plunge, with 16 percent of the stops leading to arrests so far this year compared to just an average of 6 percent during same period in 2013.