While the coronavirus pandemic emptied out New York City’s Times Square, the Broadway Theater District, and other tourist locations for most of 2020, it also contributed to a sharp increase in shootings, along with a 41% jump in killings in the city, experts said.
In just December, there have already been 100 shootings in NYC, when in 2019, there were 49 in the same month, as the Washington Examiner reported.
As of Tuesday, there had been 450 killings in the city since Jan. 1, compared to 319 in all of 2019.
“I can’t imagine a darker period”
“The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on society in low-income communities, and it just adds to the social disorganization that exists,” professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska Samuel Walker told the Examiner.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea had a similar message.
“We’re definitely coming out of that dark period,” Shea said, according to the Examiner. “The confluence of COVID into the protests into all of the debate about defunding the police — I can’t imagine a darker period.”
“Instability and insecurity”
While the numbers in the Big Apple are not the worst they have ever been, they are a sign that the era of low crime and stability in the city may be coming to an end amid coronavirus-related high unemployment and widespread racial unrest, as well as a surge in prison releases and bail reform measures.
Alex Vitale, a Brooklyn College police reform coordinator, said that the situation in New York City is “pretty closely correlated with the onset of COVID.”
“I think what we’re seeing here is a response to a deep, deep level of sort of social and economic instability and insecurity,” he told The City, a nonprofit digital news site dedicated to NYC news. “That’s creating a tremendous amount of stress in already stressed communities. And some of that is getting expressed as interpersonal violence.”
A perfect storm
An anonymous police sergeant said arrests are down in the NYPD because of “overzealous supervision of cops.”
“They’re afraid to stick their neck out to do anything because they don’t want to get fired,” the sergeant added in an interview with The City.
This perfect storm seems to have emboldened criminals — and in the middle of it all, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has moved to cut a billion dollars from the city’s $6 billion police budget. President Donald Trump’s threat to suspend $7 billion in aid to the city is meant to stop de Blasio and his cohort from continuing to run it into the ground, but can anything besides another conservative mayor like Rudy Giuliani turn it around at this point?