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New York crime rising, police say

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Sep 03, 2020 - 03:04 AM

NEW YORK — New York City police reported an uptick in crime in August, as President Donald Trump attempts to make law and order a cornerstone of his re-election bid and cast his rival Democrats as weak on violence.

Police said Wednesday murders went up 34 percent on-year in the first eight months of 2020 in the Democratic-run metropolis, which is grappling with the coronavirus crisis and resulting budget gaps, reduced services and widespread unemployment.

In August New York tallied 242 shootings compared with 91 in the same month the previous year, according to official statistics. The number of murders that month rose to 53, from 36 in 2019.

Police commissioner Dermot Shea — who was promoted to lead the country’s largest police force in December by Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio — said steps to combat the rise include shifting officers to the most impacted areas.

In his news release Shea did not include theories to explain the rise in crime.

Trump has been hoping for months to shift the election battle against Democrat Joe Biden from a referendum on his widely panned coronavirus pandemic response, to what he sees as far more comfortable territory of law and order.

Republicans blame the uptick in New york on reduced law enforcement budgets imposed in the wake of massive protests against police violence that were triggered by the murder of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Others have floated the notion that officers are engaging in a work slowdown to protest against law enforcement reforms, which the NYPD has denied.

Some analysts have pointed to a breakdown of trust between law enforcement and residents, while others have considered the pandemic’s impact on mental health or pent-up anger.

At last week’s Republican National Convention the president of New York’s largest police union, the conservative-leaning Police Benevolent Association, along with the city’s ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani, criticized de Blasio as weak on crime.

The jump in violence comes after New York saw its crime numbers fall for decades. According to The New York Times, current figures are comparable with 2012.

They are however much improved from the late 1990s, when Giuliani presided over the city, and far from the rampant crime New York saw in the 1980s and early 1990s.

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