New York Police Department seeks cure for gun violence with data-driven cases

By Tom Hays, AP

NEW YORK — Even as homicide rates have climbed in other American cities, New York City is again on pace to have a near-record low number of shootings, and police are partly crediting refined tactics that include collecting more data and forensic evidence than ever before to go after the worst offenders.

“It’s no longer good enough to just make an arrest,” said Deputy Commissioner Durmot Shea, a top New York Police Department crime-fighting strategist. The department is also trying to focus harder, he said, on the kind of arrests that make a difference by targeting a relatively small number of people responsible for making neighborhoods unsafe.

Through Dec. 4, the city had recorded 942 shooting incidents, putting the city on course to have even fewer than the 1,103 in 2013 — the lowest number since the police department began counting shootings in 1993.

A majority of people who have been shot survived. As of Dec. 4, the city had recorded 313 killings, close to the 333 set in 2014.

Still, it’s not clear whether the crime reductions in New York are due to refined police tactics or other factors, like a continuing influx of wealth into the city.

Chicago, which has roughly a third of the population of New York, has adopted a similar philosophy of quality-over-quantity gun arrests, yet the number of shootings and homicides there has soared.

Through the end of November, it had recorded more than 700 killings, the first time Chicago has eclipsed the 700 mark in a year since 1998. Chicago is on pace to have nearly 300 more homicides this year than last year. ‘Stop and frisk’ Alex Vitale, a sociologist at Brooklyn College, said targeted policing may make more sense in New York because, compared to Chicago, gun violence is concentrated in smaller pockets of poverty.