FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 3, 2020
Brooklyn Continued to Record Historic Decline in Violent Crime in 2019
Murders Remained Below 100 for the Second Straight Year and
Shooting Incidents Went Down by Almost 7%, Bucking Citywide Trends
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that 2019 ended as a historically safe year in Brooklyn, with murders remaining below 100 for the second year in a row, ticking up by one to 99 homicides after the record-breaking low that was recorded in 2018. Shootings across the borough declined by 6.8% in contrast with a nearly 3% increase citywide. As part of the District Attorney’s Justice 2020 plan to ensure equal justice while maintaining public safety, the Brooklyn DA’s Office continued to put in place reform-driven programs that enhance fairness and equity in the criminal justice system.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “In the past year, we continued to prove that criminal justice reforms do not jeopardize public safety – but rather enhance it. Thanks to the NYPD and to my hard-working prosecutors, violent crime keeps going down in Brooklyn. We again led the way in implementing initiatives ahead of the City and State, including declining to ask for bail in most misdemeanors and offering more ways to resolve low-level offenses without a court appearance – which lowered the jail population significantly, kept individuals with their families and did not lead to an increase in crime. I am committed to making headway in my Justice 2020 action plan to keep Brooklyn safe and strengthen community trust by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all.”
The District Attorney said that 99 murders were recorded in Brooklyn in 2019, compared with 98 in 2018. It is worth noting, however, that nine of the murders in the 2019 count were reclassified as homicides from incidents that took place in previous years, compared with only two reclassified cases in 2018. Therefore, 90 murders actually occurred over the past year – the lowest number in Brooklyn history. Of the 99 murders in the official count, 63 were due to shootings and 36 were by other means. Citywide, murders were up 7.8% for the year.
There were 290 shooting incidents in Brooklyn in 2019, a 6.8% decline compared to 2018 and four more than in 2017, which had the lowest number of shootings since record-keeping began. There were 22 fewer shootings in the Brooklyn South command and one additional shooting in Brooklyn North, compared to the previous year. Major crime, representing seven serious felonies, went down by 2.5%.
The historic drop in crime is also reflected by the continuing decline of arrests in Brooklyn by the New York City Police Department: 58,288 people were arrested in Brooklyn in 2019, compared with 68,407 in 2018, 80,084 in 2017 and 87,607 in 2016 – an astonishing reduction of one-third since 2016.
In preparation for the new criminal justice law that took effect at the start of 2020, the District Attorney’s Office asked for bail in just under 7% of misdemeanor cases in 2019 – the lowest percentage to date. The number of prosecutions also decreased by using new pre-arraignment diversion programs. To date, 426 cases were dismissed as part of Brooklyn CLEAR, 254 of them in 2019. The initiative allows individuals arrested with small quantities of narcotics to resolve their cases by receiving services rather than appearing in court if they comply with independent assessment-based recommendations. An additional 420 non-violent misdemeanor cases were not prosecuted after those arrested completed Project Reset, which resolves such offenses with appropriate programing before an arraignment, leading to dismissals so eligible individuals never have to appear in court.
In other ground-breaking initiatives over the past year, District Attorney Gonzalez established the first-in-the-nation Post-Conviction Justice Bureau, which reviews parole and clemency applications, facilitates and encourages sealing of past convictions and continues to investigate claims of wrongful convictions; launched the Community Resource Empowerment Center to offer educational and vocational opportunities to those sentenced to community service; and enhanced his Office’s work on safe reentry into society by making regular visits to state prisons, where he discusses resources available to those who finish serving their sentence, and by opening a boutique of donated business attire for formerly incarcerated individuals as part of his Reentry Bureau.