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Shootings in New York are down, but comparison to U.S. is flawed
If Your Time is short
A state report shows a 10% decline in select shooting incidents through August compared to last year in select departments upstate and on Long Island, while more recent New York City report finds a 13.6% decline in shootings.
A nationwide database shows a 2% decline, though the database contains more types of shootings than the state report.
The nationwide database shows that all shootings in New York state fall by only 3.8%.
Gov. Kathy Hochul claimed that shootings in New York State are falling faster than in the rest of the country.
Hochul, a Democrat, is running for re-election against Republican U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, who has accused her of being soft on crime. In a speech about public safety, she said that compared to last year, shootings are down.
"Shootings across the state of New York are down 10% from one year ago," she said. "And we're outpacing the rest of the country — as you know, this is a national phenomenon, the gun violence, national phenomenon — we are outpacing the country, where on average across America, the drop is only 2%."
We wondered whether this comparison is correct, and whether New York outpaces the rest of the country.
We approached the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services for the source of Hochul’s claim.
The first part of the claim, that shootings dropped 10%, comes from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services. The agency collects data about shootings from 20 major police departments across upstate and Long Island: Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Hempstead, Jamestown, Kingston, Middletown, Mt. Vernon, Nassau County, Niagara Falls, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Schenectady, Spring Valley, Suffolk County, Syracuse, Troy, Utica and Yonkers. Notably, New York City is not on the list.
Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2022, and the same period in 2021, shooting incidents in which at least one person was injured or killed dropped 10%, according to the report, known as the Gun Involved Violence Elimination Initiative, or GIVE. The report showed 840 such incidents in 2021 and 756 incidents in 2022. The number of people injured or killed in these incidents decreased by 10.8%, but the number of people who died in gun violence incidents grew by 4.1%.
The report also found a 25.6% increase in shootings involving injuries or deaths in 2022 compared with the average of the previous five years, 2017 to 2021.
We asked Christopher Herrmann, an assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, about Hochul’s claim. He called the state’s report on shootings a reliable source.
Herrmann, who previously analyzed statistics for the New York City Police Department, said shootings are also down in New York City, where shootings fell 12.6% in the first nine months of 2022 compared with the same period in 2021. The number of shootings there have continued to fall.
The second part of the governor's claim, that shootings are down 2% nationwide, comes from a New York Times newsletter, according to Janine Kava, director of public information for the Division of Criminal Justice Services. The newsletter on Sept. 23 reported a 2% decrease in shootings, and it linked to the Gun Violence Archive, a national database of shooting incidents.
The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit, collects data on shootings from more than 7,500 sources, including police departments and local news outlets. Its searchable database has information on each shooting with details such as where the incident happened and how many people were injured or died.
We spoke with the archive’s executive director, Mark Bryant, who said that Hochul’s claim of a 2% drop in shootings across the country is correct.
"Everything we’ve seen this year lines up to about 2%," Bryant said.
He noted that New York City has seen fewer shootings, despite some headline-grabbing crimes.
But he warned against comparing results from two different data sets that contain different types of data.
For example, the Gun Violence Archive tracks all incidents involving a gun, but the state’s GIVE report does not. Murder-suicides with a firearm are included in the state’s report, but suicides, officer-involved shootings and accidental shootings are not. The Gun Violence Archive includes all of these categories. However, anyone searching the database can filter them out.
The GIVE report includes busy police departments upstate and on Long Island but does not include all departments, while the Gun Violence Archive records shooting data regardless of jurisdiction.
We searched the Gun Violence Archive for all incidents in which at least one person was injured or died in a shooting, and we found the decrease in these incidents in New York State between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2021, and the same period in 2022, was 3.8%, not 10%. Our search included accidental deaths and suicides, which were likely outside the purview of Hochul’s remarks, made during a speech to law enforcement.
When accidental deaths, suicides, and officer-involved shootings are removed from the Gun Violence Archive search results for New York State, the decline in shootings between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2021, and the same period in 2022, is 3%.
We approached the Hochul administration with the search results from the Gun Violence Archive and our finding that New York State’s decline in shootings compared to the decline in the rest of the country is much narrower than Hochul makes it seem in her statement.
In the absence of a nationwide, federal database that uses consistent definitions for reporting gun violence, the state used the Gun Violence Archive data cited by The New York Times to provide perspective on the issue, as the increase in gun violence since 2020 has not been limited to New York State, said Kava, a spokesperson for the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services.
The administration noted New York City’s decline in shootings, 13.6% as of Oct. 16, and sent data from three other big cities, year-over-year, where shootings have fallen slightly or not at all.
The decline in shooting victims is 2% in Los Angeles. Shootings increased elsewhere, by 2.3% in Baltimore and by 1.34% in Philadelphia.
The administration stands by the data Hochul cited, Kava said.
Hochul claimed New York State is doing better than the rest of the country in the number of shootings, saying they dropped 10% in New York and 2% in the rest of the country.
A state report of 20 police agencies does show a 10% drop in shooting incidents.
A different database shows a 2% drop in shootings across the country.
But comparing these results can be misleading, because they don’t contain all of the same types of shooting incidents, and the state report includes only some geographic areas.
Independent of each other, Hochul cited reliable statistics. In New York, shootings appear to be down more than in the rest of the country, though it’s not clear by how much. Comparing New York with the rest of the country, as she did, mixes data sources and can give a misleading impression about where New York stands. The Gun Violence Archive, the source for her claim of a 2% drop across the country, shows a much smaller drop in New York state during the same period — a 3% or a 3.8% drop, depending on which types of shootings are counted.
We rate her statement Half True.
YouTube, video, "Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks at the NYS DCJS Services Public Safety Symposium," Sept. 28, 2022. Accessed Oct. 12, 2022.
New York State Office of the Governor, news release, "Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces $50 Million in Public Safety Funding at 2022 Division of Criminal Justice Services Symposium," Sept. 28, 2022. Accessed Oct. 12, 2022.
Phone, email conversations, Mark Bryant, executive director, Gun Violence Archive, Oct. 11 and 12, 2022.
Email conversation, Janine Kava, director of public information, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Oct. 11, 18, 2022.
Email conversation, Christopher Herrmann, assistant professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Oct. 7, 2022.
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, report, "Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) Initiative: Shooting Incidents, Shooting Victims, and Individuals Killed by Gun Violence," data through Aug. 31, 2022, published Sept. 13, 2022.
New York Times, The Morning newsletter, Sept. 23, 2022. Accessed Oct. 12, 2022.
New York City Police Department, news release, "September 2022 Crime Statistics," Oct. 7, 2022. Accessed Oct. 12, 2022.
New York City Police Department, CompStat Citywide Report Covering the Week 10/10/2022 Through 10/16/2022. Accessed Oct. 24, 2022.
Open Baltimore, report, "Police Department -Baltimore, Maryland Incident Report Week Ending 10/08/2022 Updated," Oct. 12, 2022. Accessed Oct. 20, 2022.
Philadelphia Police Department, report, "Major Crimes as Reported to PPD, 10/10/22-10/16/22," accessed Oct. 20, 2022.
City of Los Angeles, "COMPSTAT Citywide Profile, 9/11/2022-10/8/2022," accessed Oct. 20, 2022.
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