Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Homicides in New York City

The prime time for murder is summertime. There were more homicides in September than in any other month in 2008: 52. Next highest was August, with 51. Variations, of course, exist. There were 48 homicides last March. September Saturdays around 10 p.m. were the most likely moments for a murder in the city. The link above provides an analysis by The New York Times of multiyear homicide trends. The information — detailing homicides during the years 2003 to 2008 — was compiled mainly from open-records requests with the New York Police Department.

Women, for instance, are less likely to be either victims or killers. Those who were killed — at least 73 women were in 2008 — were almost always murdered by someone they knew — boyfriends, husbands or relatives. From 2003 to 2008, the number of women killed each year by strangers was in the single digits — excluding cases in which the police do not know if the killer knew the victim. Last year, as few as eight women died at the hands of strangers.

Brooklyn — as it has since at least 2003 — led all boroughs in the number of homicides last year, with 213. Last year, the 73rd Precinct, which includes the neighborhoods of Ocean Hill and Brownsville, had the largest death toll, 31. The bloodiest block in Brooklyn was in the 77th Precinct, in Crown Heights, bounded by Schenectady Avenue, Sterling Place, Troy Avenue and St. Johns Place. But the borough with the most homicides per capita was the Bronx.

The weapon of choice is a firearm and each year the percentage of people killed by firearms hovers around 60 percent. Though slightly less than in recent years, at least 56 percent of last year’s homicides were committed with these weapons.

Summer is when people get together. More specifically, casual drinkers and drug users are more likely to go to bars or parties on weekends and evenings, as opposed to a Tuesday morning. These people in the social mix, flooding the city’s streets and neighborhood bars, feed the peak times for murder. (NYT, 9/1/09)