FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 31, 2020
Homicides, Shootings and Other Violent Crimes Steeply Declined in
Brooklyn During 2021, Bucking Citywide Trend
Murders Declined by 16%, Shootings and Shooting Victims Dropped by Over 20%
Compared to Previous Year; Rapes, Robberies, Burglaries Were Also Down
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that Brooklyn made gains in public safety during 2021, as homicides and shootings declined compared to 2020. Those categories inched up in other boroughs and citywide. The Brooklyn DA’s Office continued to focus on street gangs and other violent individuals while expanding outreach efforts in and partnerships with impacted communities and violence interrupters. With actions that increased fairness, transparency and accountability, the District Attorney remains committed to keeping Brooklyn safe and enhancing community trust in the justice system.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “I am gratified to report that public safety in Brooklyn improved over the past year, with significant declines in murders, shootings and other major crimes. We still have work to do as we recover from the rise in gun violence that we experienced in 2020 and continue to face challenges from the ongoing pandemic. But through the hard work of my prosecutors and law enforcement partners, our focus on the most violent individuals and growing partnerships with community-based groups – we are showing that there are answers to violence. I am hopeful that the progress will continue into the coming year when we plan to put in place new preventative approaches while staying laser-focused on the small number of people who cause harm in our communities.”
The District Attorney said that 147 murders were recorded in Brooklyn in 2021, 28 or 16% fewer than the 175 suffered in 2020. The most significant drops were in the Crown Heights and Flatbush areas: 75% in the 71st Precinct, 60% in the 70th Precinct and 45% in the 77th Precinct. Citywide, murders were up about 4% for the year.
There were 517 shooting incidents in Brooklyn in 2021, a 20.7% drop compared to the previous year. Significantly, shootings declined in 20 of the 23 Brooklyn precincts, including in Flatbush/Midwood (down 55%), Williamsburg (down 45%), Canarsie (down 36%), and East New York (down 32%). Citywide, there was a 2% uptick in shooting incidents.
Shooting victims in Brooklyn plunged by 23.1%, from 808 to 621. [All stats are based on the New York City Police Department’s CompStat reports.]
While these homicides and shooting numbers represent an increase from the record-breaking 2018 (fewest homicides on record, at 98) and 2019 (fewest shootings since record keeping began, at 290), they are comparable to numbers from five-six years ago (146 homicides in 2015 and 520 shootings in 2014).
The decrease in crime is also reflected by other major crime categories: rape was down 7.3%, robbery down 6.4% and burglary down 16.7% compared to 2020. There were increases, however, in felony assault (6.9%), grand larceny (9.3%) and hate crimes (41.1%).
The District Attorney said that his Office, together with the NYPD and federal partners, conducted four successful gang takedowns this year, which resulted in shootings decreases in surrounded neighborhoods. For the first time, these law enforcement actions were followed up with outreach in the impacted communities, where the actions were explained, and questions were answered. In Bedford-Stuyvesant, these efforts resulted in working groups and a Youth Summit that engaged young people in that community on what safety means to them. A violence prevention program that will be established in 2022 grew out of these conversations.
In Brownsville, the DA’s Office took part in a number of initiatives aimed at reducing violence and increasing community participation. Those include the Brownsville Safety Alliance, a pilot with local stakeholders that reduces police presence and empowers violence interrupters and social service providers; a Hub Project – community-led mobile response teams that endeavor to assist families and individuals in crisis; and referrals of misdemeanor desk-appearance tickets to community-based organizations before a court arraignment. Other community engagement efforts included numerous food distribution events in at-need neighborhoods and a holiday toy drive.
In 2021, the District Attorney took several actions to enhance transparency and accountability. In October, CUNY’s Institute for State & Local Governance issued a report analyzing racial disparities in the Brooklyn DA’s prosecutorial process. The data, examining thousands of cases from 2016 through mid-2019, painted a nuanced picture and found fewer than expected racial disparities in outcomes. For instance, people of color were as likely as members of other races to be diverted out of the system at certain points, thus receiving equitable treatment.
In August, the Brooklyn DA’s Office became the first agency in the country to release its entire database of disclosure letters regarding police officers in the borough. The trove of 10,000-plus documents lists all findings that may affect an officer’s credibility and that are constitutionally required to be disclosed to defense lawyers and the court. Released in response to a Freedom of Information request, the disclosures are now part of the public record.
In April, following a review by his Conviction Review Unit, District Attorney Gonzalez asked the courts to dismiss 90 convictions that relied on the work of a former narcotics detective who’s been indicted for perjury in Manhattan. This move was followed by similar actions in other boroughs. The CRU also notched its 30th exoneration since 2014 by moving to vacate the conviction of a man who spent 19 years in prison for firing at police. In addition – to bring the Brooklyn docket in line with evolving laws and policies and to increase fairness – the DA moved to dismiss all the remaining marijuana possession cases and all outstanding warrants pertaining to prostitution and loitering for the purpose of prostitution.
Finally, the Brooklyn DA’s Office continued its advocacy for early release of individuals who had served the minimum sentence and have shown during their time in prison that they can safely return home. The Post-Conviction Justice Bureau submitted 48 letters supporting parole and in about half of those case parole was granted. The Bureau also supported the release of the only person to be granted clemency by the governor this year.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.