According to recent statistics, Hunts Point is a much safer neighborhood now than it was even one year ago: 41st Precinct data has revealed a nearly 24 percent drop in crime from 2016 to 2017. By comparison, overall crime in New York City has declined by less than half of that — more than 11 percent.
According to the city’s online Crime Map, nearly 22 crimes were committed per 1,000 residents in 2016 in the confines of the 41st Precinct. By contrast, the data from January through November this year reveals that close to 16 crimes were committed for the same number of residents — a 28.68 percent drop.
“Change comes with the community interacting and engaging with the police and holding them accountable – [working] as a team,” said Paula Fields, president of the precinct’s Community Council and also a member of Community Board 2. Fields said that the NYPD’s Neighborhood Coordination Officers unit has strengthened trust between community residents and the police, citing events that they host such as “Coffee with a Cop Day.” According to her, this has definitely played a part in the drop in crime.
The events help “engage the concerns of the community with the officers and what’s going on, and what needs to be addressed,” she said. “Just having that type of open forum for a relationship strengthens anything.”
According to the NYPD, neighborhood policing divides the precinct into four or five “sectors.” Officers work the same sectors on the same shifts, so residents become more familiar with their beat officer and vice versa. Officers are also given two hours each day “off-radio” time, so they are not always responding to calls and can work more closely with residents.
The idea is that officers have a greater sense of responsibility and accountability to that specific part of the neighborhood. On top of that, the Neighborhood Coordination Officers address specific crime issues in the neighborhood, visit schools, meet with neighborhood leaders and follow up on incidents.
The 41st Precinct also released data on statistics for specific offenses. This year, Hunts Point saw a more than a 70 percent drop in murder, more than 46 percent drop in robbery, as well as a nearly a 25 percent drop in burglary and a more than 20 percent drop in grand larceny.
The neighborhood’s changes reflect a broader drop in crime across all of New York City this year, with a 33 percent decline in murder, as well as a 50 percent drop in rape from the previous year. The Bronx as a whole has experienced a whopping 30.9 percent reduction in murder, as well as a more than 17 percent drop in robbery.
At its final public meeting of the year, Community Board 2 gave the 41st Precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Louis De Ceglie, a standing ovation when he announced that crime dropped more in Hunts Point and Longwood than anywhere else in the city in 2017.
“We’re 77 out of 77,” De Ceglie told board members at the Dec. 21 meeting. He added that the number of shootings—a statistic the NYPD doesn’t include among the seven major crime categories it uses to measure crime—declined from 20 in 2016 to just seven in 2017.
Board 2’s chairman, Roberto Crespo, lauded the precinct for its work engaging residents in efforts to fight crime and build trust, pointing out that relations between police and residents are more strained—and crime higher—in adjacent neighborhoods.
“A lot of people don’t like that color blue,” said Crespo. “Remember that the 4-1 is surrounded by the 4-0, the 4-2 and the 4-3, which have very big numbers. That needs to recognized.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio paid a visit to the 41st Precinct station house in September to commend the work of local cops and De Ceglie, in helping make Hunts Point’s streets safer. He also recently commended the city’s Neighborhood Coordination Officers unit for disrupting crime across the city at a briefing held in early December.
“It is a force multiplier to have the people of this city constantly supporting the police with good information that leads to arrests and disrupts crime,” said de Blasio.
The story was updated on Jan. 1. Additional reporting by Joe Hirsch.