Most parts of Queens have been fairly lucky this year when it comes to gun violence. While the city overall has seen an 11.2 percent rise in shootings so far this year compared to last, going by the latest available police statistics, and some areas have been subject to much worse, Queens has not.
In the southern part of the borough, as defined by the Police Deparment, the number of shooting incidents has gone up only 3.8 percent, from 52 to 54, as of June 22. And in the northern part, they’ve actually fallen 29.4 percent, from 17 to 12. Compare that to the Bronx, where they have jumped 25.4 percent, from 118 to 148. And none of these stats include the mayhem of last weekend, when there were 21 shootings across the city, including a fatal one in Cambria Heights.
Why shootings are on the rise is a good question. It’s certainly too early to definitively attribute the spike to the radical curtailment of the NYPD’s stop, question and frisk practice, which has been the target of so much criticism and legal action. But it sure seems likely. Under the Bloomberg administration, the number of stop and frisks rose for years, especially those targeting minorities. The percentage of blacks and Latinos who were stopped, about 88 percent, almost rose to the percentage of violent crime suspects who are black or Latino, about 95 percent. That sparked outrage among many, including then-mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio.
Now that de Blasio is mayor, the city has enacted new restrictions on the police that former Mayor Bloomberg resisted, even putting officers at risk of lawsuits targeting them personally, if a person claims he or she was needlessly stopped. This has all been done with the unflinching support of a vast majority of the City Council and civil rights organizations.
And while criminals don’t send out press releases announcing their positions on policy, they most likely support new restrictions on the police, especially ones that make it less likely they’ll be searched for weapons.
The NYPD says it is studying whether the reduction in stop and frisk is linked to the rise in shootings. We’ll await the results, but common sense says that’s likely. It just may be that City Councilman Eric Ulrich of Ozone Park had a point when he called the new restrictions “the biggest mistake the city has ever made.”