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New York City’s violent crime numbers are surging as the New York Police Department says it’s dealing with people who are being arrested and immediately released as a result of changes brought on to curb the novel coronavirus pandemic, NYPD brass said Tuesday.
"We need to get back to normal. We need to get that machine running again."
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told NY1 the department is used to crime spikes in areas of the city, and is typically used to handling them, but with some processes within the criminal justice system, such as grand juries, still suspended, a recent increase in violent citywide is cause for concern.
“What we need is, we need that whole criminal justice system to get back online. We’re out there, the cops are out there making, whether it’s gun arrests or any other types of arrests, but we can’t have people put right back on the street,” Shea said Tuesday morning. “A part of that is just, no one’s fault, it is where we are with this pandemic, where we don’t have grand juries sitting.”
Shea noted the changes that have since been made within the criminal justice system to curb COVID-19 transmission, such as following social distancing guidelines, checking detainees' temperatures and wearing masks, but said he hoped the different parties involved could reach “a happy medium.”
“We gotta get to a happy medium here where violent people, carrying guns, shooting at people in New York City – and that’s what we’re seeing in some parts of the city, unfortunately,” he said.
The number of murders reported in the city spiked 125 percent during the week of May 11 to May 17, compared to the same time last year, from four in 2019 to nine in 2020, according to the most recent crime data available. The number of shooting incidents skyrocketed 287.5 percent during the same time period.
And in the most recent 28-day period, the number of murders remained the same as last year, at 21, while shooting incidents had increased from 33 to 73, up 121.2 percent.
Shea said it would not be fair to point blame at the court system, and instead emphasized the need for things “to get back to normal.”
“We need to get that machine running again. People talk about crime in the police department and we are a significant driver of public safety in New York City, but we need those other parts of the system to come online, too,” he continued. “It’s a small number of people [committing crimes], and we need to get that small number of people off the street – whether they’re committing commercial burglaries, whether they’re stealing cars and whether they’re, unfortunately, resisting all efforts to get them to put down guns.”