Editorial: Answers and a question about rising firearm violence on the streets

Tribune Content Agency

This week, New York City passed 2019’s full-year total of 319 murders. Now, for the fearsome curve of street violence to be bent, the city must solve a pressing puzzle.

First, some promising — yes, promising — news.

For months, Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea insisted a COVID-created “perfect storm” was fueling mayhem: police resources were diverted to protests; bad actors were released from Rikers Island to prevent COVID’s spread; and courts were shuttered. Meanwhile, gun arrests plunged right around the time that Shea disbanded the NYPD’s anti-crime unit.

Most of those factors are turning around.

Following the precipitous drop in collars, the NYPD made 164 gun arrests in the week ending Sept. 6, the largest number since 1995. The following week saw an even greater 173.

Meanwhile, from Aug. 10-Sept. 10, after grand juries reconvened, the percentage of gun arrests that resulted in bail being set rose to 57% from an abominable 28.5% during the height of the pandemic. Separately, the share of perpetrators released on their own recognizance plunged to 18%, from a high of 47% in the late spring.

More arrests and more bail-setting means more gun-toting criminals being taken out of circulation.

So why did last week bring 42 shootings compared to 11 in the same week last year? Is that violence just a lagging indicator, with better work done by cops and courts yet to show results, or is there some unknown wildcard?

It’s a mystery with a body count. Solve it.


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