Feb. 6, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Crime across the city and in the borough of Queens jumped significantly in the first month of 2020 — which top NYPD brass attributes to bail reform.
Major crimes spiked 20 percent in the first 26 days of the year in Patrol Borough Queens North — which includes Long Island City, Sunnyside, Astoria, Jackson Heights, Ridgewood, Forest Hills and Flushing — as compared to the same period in 2019.
There were 758 serious crimes from Jan. 1 through Jan. 26, 2020 in Queens North; up from 629 during the same period in 2019, according to NYPD data.
Major crimes climbed 31 percent for the same 26-day period from the year prior in Patrol Borough Queens South — which includes the Rockaways, Jamaica, Queens Village and south. There were 712 crimes committed from Jan. 1 through Jan. 26, 2020; up from 543 in 2019, according to NYPD data.
Citywide, major crimes increased nearly 17 percent in the whole month of January from the same time last year.
Top-ranking members of the NYPD including Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief of the Department Terence Monahan said the rise in crime is a result of bail reform laws that took effect on Jan. 1.
“2020 is going to be a challenging year for us—you see it already,” Monahan said at a 108th Precinct meeting in Sunnyside last week. “You have all heard about bail reform. Well, we are feeling the effects of it and make no doubt about it—a lot of what is going on out there can be related to bail reform.”
The laws ended pretrial detention and cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, including stalking, assault without serious injury, burglary, many drug offenses and certain robberies.
Judges must release people charged with such crimes and can no longer keep them in custody while their case is pending — even if they believe they’re a risk to public safety.
Cash bail was originally intended to ensure defendants come to their court appointments — not for public safety — but over time, judges began using bail as a means to keep individuals with long criminal records behind bars.
Critics of the reforms, including the City’s top cops, say that people charged with a crime — who would have previously been held unless they made bail — are instead being released and committing more crimes while awaiting trial.
NYPD officials want judges to have the option to detain people who pose a threat to public safety.
Advocates for the reforms, however, argue that cash bail criminalizes poverty and keeps poor, and often minority, New Yorkers incarcerated for minor offenses they have not been tried on, while the wealthy walk free.
Furthermore, supporters state that conclusions can’t be drawn from one month of police data.
However, Monahan — who has been a cop for 38 years and is the highest-ranking NYPD officer in uniform — said the numbers will keep rising.
“We are going to see the numbers rising and more people getting victimized,” he said at the 108th Precinct meeting last week. “These aren’t just numbers, but these are people.”
He added that there have been cases where people who had stolen a car or robbed a bank were released under the new laws only to commit the same crime soon after.
In fact, robberies and auto thefts saw the largest increases from the year prior across all of Queens and the city.
Robberies rose nearly 80 percent and auto thefts grew 113 percent from Jan. 1 through Jan. 26 in Patrol Borough Queens North — which includes the 104th, 108th, 109th, 110th, 111th, 112th, 114th and 115th precincts — from the same period the year prior. For instance, there were 97 robberies and 64 auto thefts last month compared to 54 and 30 respectively for the same period in 2019.
Likewise, robberies rose 47 percent and auto thefts swelled 71 percent last month (ending on Jan. 26) in Patrol Borough Queens South — which includes the 100th, 101st, 102nd, 103rd, 105th, 106th, 107th, and 113th precincts — from the same January period last year. There were 109 robberies and 91 auto thefts during the first 26 days of January, compared to 74 and 53 respectively for the same period in 2019.
Citywide, murders and rapes decreased last month from January 2019’s numbers — from 29 to 23, but every other crime of the seven major categories saw increases and shooting incidents rose by 29 percent from last year.