NEW YORK —Murder and rape rates spiked in the city over the first half of the year, officials said Tuesday.
Overall crime is down, but murder is up more than 8 percent as compared to this point in 2017 and reported rapes are up more than 33 percent, NYPD officials said. Last year was the city's safest in decades. NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill reassured the public that police would do everything in their power to handle the increase of crime in certain areas.
“While the overall crime rate continues to fall in New York City, it remains our top priority to forcefully combat the spikes in murder and other crimes where we know persistent pockets of crime still exist,” O’Neill said. "New Yorkers deserve nothing less than our very best work in that regard – every day, in every neighborhood.”
Most of the spike in murders is from crime in the Bronx, where more than 50 people - including 15-year-old Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz - have been killed so far this year. Mayor Bill de Blasio described the teen's death as a "painful example" of the challenge police face in the borough.
"In the Bronx we need to fight block by block," he said. "Throw at the problem whatever is needed."
Arrests have been made in 33 of the homicides in the Bronx, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said. A new station house is coming to the 40th precinct as part of an effort to fight crime in the borough.
“This new precinct will strengthen the bond between community and police, which will ultimately help make the South Bronx and our City safer," de Blasio said.
The increase in reported rapes citywide is not necessarily a cause for concern, city officials said. It's a highly underreported crime and the change could indicate that more people are coming forward to report the crime.
Arrests for rape are up more than 37 percent so far this year, officials said.
“While crime is at a record low in New York City, there is still more work to do to ensure that every New Yorker feels safe in their neighborhood,” de Blasio said.