According to Borough President Eric Adams, Brooklyn only had 97 murders last year. Last Wednesday, Adams joined District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and dozens of patrol volunteers at Borough Hall to tout the continued drop in overall crime in the borough.
The borough president contrasted that statistic with the roughly 800 homicides committed in Brooklyn in the mid-1990s, when New York City as a whole had nearly 2,000 killings in one year.
“We will never return to the days when homicide was king,” he said.
Adams said the borough saw an 11.8 percent decline in murders over the last year. Some neighborhoods saw significant declines.
Coney Island’s 60th Precinct had no murders in 2018, while East Flatbush’s 67th Precinct saw a 65 percent decline. The 75th Precinct in East New York also experienced a 45 percent drop.
While the borough president, a former police captain, praised the NYPD, he also credited the work of anti-violence organizations, clergy leaders and other local groups that have worked to lower crime in their communities.
At Borough Hall, he convened a multicultural group of volunteers and organizations that respond after shootings, stop retaliatory attacks, de-escalate potential violence and provide services to underserved communities.
“You’re see civilians of all different ethnicities coming together with one common denominator,” Adams said. “Not where we worship, not where we send our children to, but our belief that we must continue to create an environment to raise healthy children and families.
“We can only do it with the participation of everyday residents,” he added. “Police can’t be everywhere, but the people of the borough can be everywhere.”
Adams also called for a 20 percent increase in city funding for these organizations in the budget for 2020.
“It costs money to buy their uniforms, to put gas in vehicles, to buy walkie talkies and other communications devices,” he said. “We believe we need to do more to assist them.”
Gonzalez highlighted how his office is “doing things differently” to not only lower crime rates, but strengthen the trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
The district attorney said for too long, law enforcement relied almost entirely on arrests, prosecution and incarceration, resulting in broken families and a “broken criminal criminal justice system.”
“We’re giving young people the tools they need to be successful in their lives, the resources they need to avoid getting involved in criminal activity,” he said. “We’re giving those who already made mistakes the opportunity to get meaningful second chances to get their lives back on track.”
Gonzalez, who grew up in East New York, said it was “unimaginable” for him to see fewer than 100 homicides in Brooklyn. When he first started working at the district attorney’s office, there were 126 homicides in East New York. This year, there were six.
Major crimes are also down nearly 2 percent, and property crimes, such as burglaries, robberies and grand larcenies, also decreased.
He noted that there was an uptick in shootings in 2018. There were 18 more shootings than in 2017, but still more than 100 fewer than in 2016.
“These are remarkable accomplishments,” Gonzalez said. “We can only do it with all of us together.”
The DA’s office also changed two important policies in 2018 to help earn community trust.
First, Gonzalez said they “reimagined” their bail policy to reduce the number of cases that receive bail for misdemeanors. As a result, they reduced the number of people sent to Rikers Island by 43 percent.
The second change was their marijuana policy, which Gonzalez said has disproportionately impacted communities of color. The DA said they drove down prosecution of marijuana cases by 98 percent.
“That changes how people feel about the fairness of our justice system,” he said.