“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,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “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.
The Brooklyn DA’s Office continued to focus on street gangs and other violent individuals while expanding outreach efforts in impacted communities and partnerships with violence interrupters.
According to crime statistics, 147 murders were recorded in Brooklyn in 2021, 28 or 16 percent fewer than the 175 suffered in 2020. The most significant drops were in the Crown Heights and Flatbush areas: 75 percent in the 71st Precinct, 60 percent in the 70th Precinct and 45 percent in the 77th Precinct.
Citywide, murders were up about 4 percent for the year.
There were 517 shooting incidents in Brooklyn in 2021, a 20.7 percent drop compared to the previous year. Significantly, shootings declined in 20 of the 23 Brooklyn precincts, including in Flatbush/Midwood (down 55 percent), Williamsburg (down 45 percent), Canarsie (down 36 percent), and East New York (down 32 percent).
Shooting victims in Brooklyn plunged by 23.1 percent, from 808 to 621.Citywide, there was a 2 percent uptick in shooting incidents.
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 to 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 percent, robbery down 6.4 percent and burglary down 16.7 percent compared to 2020. There were increases, however, in felony assault (6.9 percent), grand larceny (9.3 percent) and hate crimes (41.1 percent).
Together with the NYPD and federal partners, the District Attorney's Office 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, and referrals of misdemeanor desk-appearance tickets to community-based organizations before a court arraignment.
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.
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.
“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,” Gonzalez said.