By Juan Soto
The borough was in sync with the citywide drop in crime registered last year compared to 2013, but the news came as Police Commissioner William Bratton admitted that police officers are making fewer arrests and issuing fewer summonses.
The drop in busts and tickets comes as tensions between cops and Mayor Bill de Blasio escalated.
“At this time, I have not used the term slowdown, which would indicate it is organized,” Bratton told a news conference this week. “We have seen a precipitous decline in all those categories,” he added, referring to the decrease in the number of arrests and summonses in several crime categories.
But as crime is going down to record levels, the rank-and-file have been less active on the streets since the killing of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn last month.
Hundreds of cops turned their backs on the mayor when he eulogized Ramos and Lui at their funerals as a response to his comments about the force after the non-indictment in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man killed during a confrontation for a minor offense with the police in Staten Island. De Blasio also supported the protests that followed the decision by a Staten Island grand jury.
“People in this city appreciate our police,” de Blasio said at the news conference to announce a 4.6 percent overall drop in crime citywide.
And as the mayor touted the citywide drop in crime for 2014, Bratton tried to explain the decline in arrests and summonses.
Bratton noted, “We had a lot of things that have been impacting on activity levels,” referring to a decline in calls to 911, the protests over Garner and other police cases as well as the deaths of Ramons and Liu, among others.
“We are taking a long view look,” Bratton said “We are looking at very specific precincts, to borough, to tours of duty.”
According to the New York Post, from Dec. 29 to Jan. 4, the number of arrests were down 56 percent compared to the same period last year, from 10,818 to 4,221. Parking violation were down about 93 percent, traffic violations 92 percent and criminal court summonses 91 percent.
But Bratton emphasized that the city is in no crisis mode. He said calls to 911 “are down fairly dramatically during this last couple of weeks, so we are not in a public safety crisis by any stretch of the imagination in New York City at this time.”
De Blasio spoke at Queens College Wednesday, welcoming the new recruit class for the Police Academy in a bid to improve his relationships with cops.
“You are joining at a crucial time,”he told the recruits. “We are going to keep driving crime down… We are going to draw this police department closer and closer to the communities it serves and in the process make everyone safer.”
And the city appears to be safer, indeed, at least judging from the crime statistics.
In both, Patrol Borough Queens North and Queens South, overall major crime was down for the year, according to the latest statistics made available by the NYPD.
In the police precincts covering northern Queens, serious offenses declined by about 3.2 percent. As of Dec. 28 authorities reported a total of 11,764 crimes, down from 12,153 offenses in the same period in 2013.
In southern Queens, which covers the 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 106, 107 and 113 police precincts, the drop in major crime was down by almost 7.4 percent. The biggest declines were in robbery and burglary, with drops of 21.5 and 21 percent, respectively.
According to the statistics, in northern Queens, covering the 104, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 114 and 115 precincts, the biggest declines occurred in robberies, with a decline of 14.8 percent, and rape, with 13.9 percent fewer offenses.
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4564.