Story By: David Cruz
Newly released statistics from the NYPD show there were more domestic violence-related killings so far this year compared to the same time last year, as New Yorkers enter the second month of a stay-at-home order because of COVID-19.
The NYPD sent Gothamist/WNYC figures showing 19 domestic violence murders have been reported so far this year, four more when compared to the same time in 2019. Overall, the murder rate is up in New York City, with 92 reported homicides, compared to 87 homicides the same time last year.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told 1010 WINS yesterday that the increase is “incredibly troubling.”
Domestic violence crimes are often known to go underreported. Shea, who’s taken a data-driven approach to leading the department, acknowledged the unreliability of the numbers in his radio interview, hedging that any domestic abuse stat could be lower than what’s really happening.
“I am firmly in the camp that you have to be very careful believing those numbers, because people are afraid to report crimes,” Shea told the station.
The spike in domestic violence killings coincides with an increase in the number of visitors to the city’s domestic violence website as the virus forced all of the city’s Family Justice Centers that handle domestic violence cases to temporarily shift to remote access only.
Globally, domestic violence, sometimes referred to as ‘intimate terrorism’ by experts, has surged since the COVID-19 outbreak hit, according to a report by the New York Times.
Last month, Shea said that two officers are still devoted to handling domestic violence at every precinct, doing regular check-ins for victims of domestic violence by phone or email instead of their usual home visits.
“But those high priority people we need to stay in touch with to make sure that violence isn’t happening behind closed doors and doing our best to keep people safe,” said Shea in his March 31st Q&A discussion on Twitter.
The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for a more detailed breakdown on the number of domestic violence incidents or which precincts have been hardest hit by domestic violence murder.