Natasha Ishak

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As a neighborhood, Bushwick has seen some darker times. Just a few decades ago, the area was riddled with crime, sometimes even in the light of day. 

“Bushwick was horrible,” Stephen Ficala, who was born and raised in Bushwick, told City Limits in a recent article about the neighborhood’s improved safety. Ficala went on to mention the roadblock that had been on Troutman for two years, where cops would check residents’ ID in an effort to weed out the neighborhood’s drug dealers. It’s a reminder of how much Bushwick has changed. 

The Brooklyn neighborhood’s changing face is reflected in more than the memories of its long-time residents. According to the City Limits report, the number of crimes, arrests and criminal summonses, and stop-and-frisks in Bushwick have gone down in recent years. 

Crime Prevention Officer and Auxiliary Police Officers from the 83rd Precinct doing community outreach in Bushwick.

Based on numbers reported by the neighborhood’s 83rd NYPD Precinct, Bushwick’s “index crimes” — a term used to describe the seven major felonies used to create the FBI’s crime index report — experienced significant drops. 

Looking at the neighborhood’s crime numbers in the last two decades, murders this year have totaled six so far compared to the 18 recorded in 2000 (the number reached 77 in 1990), while rape has also gone down by 50 percent. Robbery and burglary — the felonies with the highest numbers in 2000 — are also down by 55.61 percent and 56.65 percent, respectively.

When compared to citywide crime statistics, for the most part it seems like Bushwick is doing pretty well. Then, there are the arrests and summons. Both have also dropped by at least 50 percent each over the last decade or so (criminal summonses actually fell by a whopping 95 percent). “Stop, question, and frisk” operations have also plummeted from 8,400 to 146 at the 83rd Precinct.

Police Officer from the 83rd Precinct during community outreach, distributing crime prevention tips.

But even though the number of stop-and-frisks has dropped in 2018, 91 percent of those stops in Bushwick were still performed on Black or Latinx residents. By comparison, only 7.5 percent were white residents, despite the fact that white residents make up about 22 percent of the neighborhood’s population now (71 percent are either Black or Latinx).

In January, the anti-poverty group Community Service Society (CSS) analyzed more than 108,000 NYPD-referred complaints through the 311 hotline in 2017. They found that 87 percent of these complaints were “noise complaints” which typically happens when new white neighbors in a minority-majority area call law enforcement on Black or Latinx residents hanging out on the sidewalks of their own neighborhood. 

The CSS study, titled “New Neighbors and the Over-Policing of Communities of Color”, showed that gentrifying neighborhoods like Bushwick were experiencing an increase in 311 calls. It’s worth noting that these 311 complaints, though meant to address “quality of life” issues like a fallen tree or broken stop sign, are responded to by police at least 92.5 percent of the time.

Courtesy of

And while felony crimes in Bushwick have gone down compared to yesteryears, there is still more work to be done to improve the safety of all its residents. Based on the NYPD’s own crime map tool, there were 111 crimes reported under the 83rd Precinct in June alone, including 13 burglaries, 30 felony assaults, and one rape case. 

Petit larcenies — when properties of less than $50 value are stolen —  have actually increased every year for the past four years; last year, was the highest number in this century for Bushwick.

More alarmingly, even though NYPD statistics show a 15 percent drop in crime among the borough’s northern precincts compared to last year, shootings in Brooklyn have still risen. In some neighborhoods — like East New York and Crown Heights — gun violence cases have even doubled

So far this year, according to a report by Bklyner, there have been 19 shooting victims in the borough. That includes those shot and killed during the horrific mass shooting incident at the Old timers Festival on July 27; 12 people were shot and one person killed. Then, just a week later, four more were shot in a shooting that happened during a candlelight vigil in Crown Heights.

Photos courtesy of the NYPD 83rd Precinct. 

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