Shootings spike nearly 9 percent in NYC as police ‘struggle’ to stem violence

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NEW YORK (AP/PIX11) — Police are "struggling" to keep up with a nearly 9 percent spike in shootings in the five boroughs and are pulling some 330 officers from their usual duties for special patrols in an effort to stem the violence, department officials said Monday.

Chief of Department James O'Neill said Monday the NYPD does not take the rise lightly and is focused on stopping the violence crimes. He said police are "struggling" to keep up with the rise in slayings.

The department used similar patrols last summer to combat a rise in shootings and other violence predicted during the hotter months. This year, the patrols will start next week, a month earlier than last year.

So far this year, there have been 439 shootings, up from 403 in 2014, according to departmental figures. There were 2,091 shootings for the same period in 1993 when crime was at a high.

Police say almost all of the 135 homicides so far this year were committed with a gun. This weekend alone police arrested 45 people involves in crimes where a firearm was used.

"The level of homicides committed is substantially higher. Is that indicative of more guns on the street? It’s something that we’re looking at," a department official said during a Monday news conference.

The numbers have the department looking into refining the use of "stop and frisk," using it in areas with especially high crime rates.