Surges in robbery, burglary and other crimes drove a 22 percent increase in overall major crime in New York City last year compared to the year prior, despite a significant drop in shootings and murders.
Mayor Eric Adams, who campaigned on a promise to improve public safety, said at a news conference at Police Department headquarters that the city had made progress. He lauded the agency for its efforts to increase gun arrests and rid the five boroughs of illegal guns and drugs.
Still, the mayor said the city must drive down robberies, burglaries and grand larcenies — categories that contributed to the increase in what it defines as major crimes last year, to 126,537 from 103,388 in 2021. The mayor said retail theft and subway safety are among his top concerns.
“We know we have more to do,” Mayor Adams, a former police captain, told reporters at the news conference. “New Yorkers must be safe based on the stats, and they must feel safe based on what they’re seeing. That is my obligation: to ensure that safety is felt.”
The declines in murders and shootings last year appeared to be in line with similar drops in other U.S. cities, which, like New York, experienced a surge in such crimes in 2020 and 2021 amid the worst of the pandemic, criminal justice experts said. These experts cautioned against reading too much into data for a single year.
“No credible criminologist would tell you that you can interpret crime trends based on a one-year analysis,” said Jeffrey A. Fagan, a professor at Columbia Law School.
History shows, he added, that crime rises and falls in cycles because of various social factors and that declines in murders and shootings after the sharp increases of the past two years were natural. The recent increases in shootings and homicides in New York remain far below the outsize figures of the 1980s and ’90s.
Christopher Herrmann, an assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that — setting aside the figures for murders and shootings — the overall picture painted by the 2022 statistics was that “crime is up in New York City, and it’s up quite a bit.”
Mr. Herrmann also noted that, based on his own analysis of Police Department data, the decline in shootings had yet to be felt in some neighborhoods long plagued by gun violence, including Brownsville and Bushwick in Brooklyn; Central Harlem and Inwood in Manhattan; and East Concourse and Claremont in the Bronx.
Beyond getting illegal guns off the streets, Professor Fagan said, the police have limited control over whether shootings and killings occur.
Still, Keechant Sewell, who is closing her first year as New York’s police commissioner, sought to highlight the declines in those categories as evidence of her department’s plans for returning crime to its historic, prepandemic lows.
“We knew we would not turn this city around on a dime,” Commissioner Sewell said. “We did not stumble into these decreases. They were not happenstance. We strategized, planned, deployed and recalibrated when necessary.”
Statistics can be affected by police departments’ decisions about how to classify crimes, what they investigate and in New York’s case, its own definition of serious crime that includes some property offenses. But the numbers released Thursday provided a variety of measurements of the state of New York City’s crime and criminality:
All told, there were 189,777 arrests citywide in 2022, a 22 percent increase from 2021.
Of those, 47,572 were for the most serious crimes: homicide, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny of a motor vehicle.
The number of arrests linked to shootings and homicides, 1,411, rose about 12 percent from the year before.
The city saw the most gun arrests in 27 years, said Michael LiPetri, the chief of crime control strategies. There were 4,627 last year.
Shootings and Homicides
There were 433 homicides last year, about an 11 percent drop since 2021 and the fewest since 2019. Killings touched a 22-year low in 2017, when only 292 people were slain.
Last year, about 300 fewer people were shot than the year before. Shootings in 2022 also fell to 1,294, a 17 percent decrease.
Some of that decline came in parts of the Bronx. The police moved dozens of cameras and thousands of officers into the borough, said Chief LiPetri.
The borough had only 13 shootings in October, the fewest in that month since the police began tracking those numbers in the mid-1990s.
Robberies and burglaries greatly contributed to the 22 percent overall increase in the most serious crimes.
There were about 10,000 robbery arrests last year, Chief LiPetri said. The police saw a 37 percent increase in robberies in the first three quarters of the year, with some improvement in the last three months. About 17 percent of those arrested in robberies were under 18.
In the subway system, crime increased by about 30 percent in 2022 over the previous year, said Michael Kemper, the chief of transit. The increase came as ridership grew significantly from the lows of the first two years of the pandemic.
Officers performed more than 1.5 million train patrols in the subways last year, and arrests rose 47 percent. The police arrested 35 people for illegally possessing guns, a 21 percent increase.
“We went from a very concerning increase in crime for the first 10 months of the year to a sharp turnaround during the last nine weeks of the year,” Chief Kemper said. “In fact, this was the lowest nine-week year-end period for major crime in transit since 2009.”