NEW YORK CITY -- Shootings and murders have dropped this year along with a steep decline in the number of stop-and-frisks that NYPD officials have long touted as a weapon to stop gun violence, DNAinfo.com New York has learned.
Gun violence in the Big Apple has declined by 8.4 percent, from 1,457 shooting incidents last year to 1,335 this year, police statistics through Dec. 16 show. Meanwhile, the number of stops declined by 30 percent during the last two quarters, from 331,135 to 239,922, according to NYPD data.
The downturn comes after two consecutive years of increasing gun violence in the city. But law enforcement sources say the shootings decline undercuts arguments that the controversial volume of stopping-and-frisking New Yorkers was a central factor in tamping down gunplay.
In fact, NYPD insiders say the decline in gun violence is largely attributable to laser-like deployment of manpower to target crime flare-ups and to the department's focus on identifying drug and gang crews prone to use weapons.
"It's the use of cops and Impact Zones, targeted deployment and building cases against these crews that will be the reasons for the drop in shootings," one top cop said. "To a large degree it debunks the line that stop-and-frisks prevented shootings."
Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in 2002, stop-and-frisks rose a staggering 600 percent, from approximately 98,000 to nearly 700,000, raising alarms that the NYPD was racially profiling because the majority of frisks are in minority communities.
Under pressure from the public and the courts, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly earlier this year announced that the department would retrain cops about when and how to conduct proper stops-and-frisks.
"We are now starting to focus on quality stops, not quantity," another police official said.
"On The Inside" previously reported that the skyrocketing number of NYPD stop and frisks had little impact on the number of people shot in New York City or on gun violence in general during Bloomberg's administration.
This column also revealed that the number of guns taken off the streets by to he NYPD had also dropped during Bloomberg's era and the 600 percent increase in stops-and-frisks.
Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said "these figures make clear that the police department has been flat out wrong in claiming that the huge increases in street stops over the last 10 years have been needed to keep down gun violence.
"In truth, stopping large numbers of innocent people is both ineffective and unlawful," he maintained.
According to police statistics, murder is down 20 percent through Dec. 16, from 496 last year to 396 this year, which is similarly to the levels in the early 1960s.
Experts note that the decline is tied to improved medical care and triage conducted at the scene of shootings and at hospitals as much as any police initiative
Crime overall in the city is up 3.2 percent, however, which will mark the third increase in as many years, police statistics show.