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New York City is approaching the end of a year that’s been absolutely horrific thanks not just to COVID-19 but also crime — especially shootings. There’s no vaccine for that, but local elections in 2021 could usher in new political leaders committed to restoring public safety.
As of Nov. 22, murders in the city were up a whopping 37 percent over the same period last year — by far the largest spike in decades. Burglaries rose 42 percent, car thefts 66 percent.
Scariest of all, the 1,386 shootings — an average of four every day — nearly doubled last year’s figure. This, when the virus had many people off the streets and thus less exposed. (That’s likely why rates of crimes like rape and grand larceny fell.)
Yet a lot of people got the idea that the city is now OK with shooters and killers, and they’ve gone after their targets with a vengeance. Most recently:
• Over last weekend, a full dozen separate shootings rang out through the city.
• On Monday, a 29-year-old man was blasted in the back at a Queens birthday party, while a 39-year-old was struck in the groin and stomach in Brooklyn.
• Tuesday, a gunman hit a 24-year-old in a drive-by shooting in Queens, and a 20-year-old was shot in Manhattan.
• Wednesday, a 32-year-old man was killed in a shooting in the Concourse section of The Bronx.
• And on Thursday morning, a 27-year-old got blasted in the chest in Brooklyn.
Some violent, often fatal, crimes don’t involve guns. On Wednesday, for example, a man was slashed in the face by a total stranger in a Manhattan subway station, in what a police source said might be a case of mistaken identity.
Consider, too, the rash of attacks where subway riders get pushed onto the tracks — three in a single week last month.
Meanwhile, the summer’s rioting, vandalism and other assorted protest-related violence also added to the year’s chaos.
Make no mistake: This lawlessness isn’t just taking a toll on the victims; it’s also contributing to mass flight out of the city. As The Post’s Melissa Klein reported last month, 300,000 New Yorkers fled Gotham between March and October.
“I think people are afraid,” explains the Manhattan Institute’s Michael Hendrix. “They’re afraid of catching a deadly virus — and they’re afraid of crime and other quality-of-life concerns.”
Mayor de Blasio and police officials are right that several factors are driving the out-of-control gunfire. Yet Hizzoner refuses to admit to those he and other officials are responsible for.
He cites backups in the courts, for example, that have left potentially dangerous suspects out on the streets — but not the masses of inmates he freed from city jails to curb the spread of COVID. Or the state’s mindless no-bail law, the NYPD’s scrapping of its undercover anti-crime units (which rounded up illegal guns), his own defunding of the department and the rollback of Broken Windows policing.
Perhaps most significant is the city’s war on cops, which de Blasio himself enflamed, not least by supporting the anti-cop Black Lives Matter movement. That also includes the numerous handcuffs he and the City Council have placed on cops, such as the so-called anti-chokehold law that goes well beyond banning chokeholds.
“With laws put out by the City Council, you can’t arrest a violent person without violating the law,” says detectives’ union head Paul DiGiacomo. “It’s becoming an impossible task to police this city.”
Sinking police morale has retirements up 25 percent through the first week of October. “There’s a faction of the city that doesn’t support us,” one soon-to-retire cop said. “You can’t do your job if you’re not given the support you need.”
Vaccines can end the pandemic. But only new political leadership can reverse violent crime’s alarming rise.
The good news: Voters will have a chance to elect that leadership next November.