Murders ‘Doubled Overnight’ and the Percentage Solved by the NYPD Collapsed

Good morning. Today we’ll look at the jump in homicides during the pandemic and the drop in police closed cases. And now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we also get an inside look at how Macy’s returns to face-to-face visits with Santa in a reconfigured workshop.

The statistic is called the clearance rate. It is an overview of the murder cases solved by the New York police. In the years before the pandemic, it was nearly 90 percent. But as the number of shootings and murders rose last year, the department’s data shows that it has fallen to about 60 percent.

Video cameras record almost every step of the daily lives of some New Yorkers as soon as they leave the house. But some high-crime neighborhoods lack oversight, police say — and the pandemic messed up the tools. Masks have made it difficult to identify attackers who were videotaped running away from crime scenes, officials say. They also complain that because of recently revamped laws that allow informants’ names to be disclosed to defense attorneys, many potential witnesses are resisting reporting.

“It’s not for lack of trying,” said Lt. William O’Toole, chief of the Bronx Homicide. “We don’t get much help from the community.”

My colleague Ali Watkins writes that the rise in unsolved cases hit the Bronx especially hard after the pandemic kicked in and shootings hit their highest level in 15 years. O’Toole said the cleanup rate in the Bronx is about 62 percent. He also said 17 murder suspects have been identified and arrest warrants have been issued for them.

But, he said, “It’s harder with the pandemic.”

That’s cold comfort for Marisol Sanchez. Her son, JayQuan Lewis, was known as “JJ” and planned to start nursing school in September. He was shot dead in a bodega in August. Police identified a suspect within hours but did not release a photo for fear of driving him out of New York, Sanchez said.

“I have a strong feeling that they will find him soon,” Sanchez said more than a month ago.

She’s still waiting.

[After Murders ‘Doubled Overnight,’ the N.Y.P.D. Is Solving Fewer Cases]

The challenge for the police is especially difficult in cases involving gangs or drugs, which the police believe played a role in the shooting. The killer allegedly mistook Lewis—who had avoided street life—for someone else. There was no indication that Lewis and the shooter knew each other.

Video footage of the bodega shows Lewis standing at the counter. The gunman, identified by police as Kemel Smith, approaches Lewis from behind. He fires seven times before quietly walking away.

Police released the suspect’s mugshot in October. That devastated Sanchez, who took it as confirmation that detectives had no idea where her son’s killer might be.

“I don’t understand how they haven’t caught him yet,” she said at a Halloween party honoring Lewis. Dressed in a “Beetlejuice” costume – “JJ used to love ‘Beetlejuice,'” she said – she ended up in a corner. Her two younger sons refused to attend the event, she said – they wouldn’t be celebrating without their older brother.

“I know his mom wants a lot of questions answered about what happened,” O’Toole said. “They live it every day.”

But, he said, the police have only been looking for Smith for three months.


After a few showers in the early morning, the temperature will be in the mid-40s. Mostly cloudy for the rest of the day, with possible rain. Winds persist throughout a partly cloudy night, with temperatures dropping to 30 degrees.

parking on the other side

In effect until December 8 (Immaculate Conception).

His nose – will it look like a cherry from behind a mask? His dimples – how happy will they be if you can’t see them?

And Santa’s lap? Oh, it’ll be where it always is, somewhere south of the little round belly that’ll tremble when he smiles, like a bowl full – you know. But there won’t be sitting on Santa’s lap. At least not at Macy’s in Herald Square. Santa will sit on one side of a desk, fully masked. All the good girls and boys will be on the other side, masked too.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade returned in its helium-filled glory on Thursday. You can read about it here. But now it’s time to look ahead.

Macy’s, which took its Santaland virtual last year, is bringing back the face-to-face encounter with Santa, but with pandemic concessions that will make the keepsake photo a reminder that even Santa’s rituals have changed.

Everyone in Santaland, customers and employees alike, will be wearing masks, a requirement not enforced anywhere else at Macy’s massive flagship store, though it encourages all of its customers to wear masks. Santaland’s layout has also been reconfigured to allow for social distancing when kids and their parents queue up.

Approaching Santa has always been a bit like approaching a throne, but now it will be a bit like approaching a talk show host, except the kids (and their parents, if they want to) aren’t sitting next to Santa on a couch. will sit.

One thing won’t change: the camera will still be looking at Santa Claus. When it’s time to take the picture, the child and his or her parents turn around with their masks still in place.

“We want to make sure everyone — our guests, Santa and his elves — feels safe,” said Kathleen Wright, Macy’s production director.

Macy’s does not differentiate between children under age 5 – who are not eligible for vaccination – and children who are older and eligible. Also, Macy’s does not ask if older children have had an injection. It requires reservations for Santaland, as it has done for crowd control in the past.

Ms. Wright suggested that the meeting with Santa would look like Santa is in his office. The chairs will be part of the store’s “enhanced cleaning protocols.” After each family’s meeting with Santa Claus, elves appear and wipe the surfaces that the children and their parents have touched.

It is a new ritual in a setting that implies tradition. “For a lot of people, Macy’s pretty much owns Christmas,” author Reggie Nadelson wrote in The Times last year, noting that Macy’s has had Santa Clauses since 1861, three years after the department store first opened.

“One of the things that keeps Macy’s – the idea of ​​Macy’s – special is its sense of itself, its scale, the way it promotes its own myth, just like New York does. For many people it is all they know about the city as a child.”

Mrs. Wright, however, did not know. She grew up in River Edge, NJ, but was never taken to Macy’s Santaland. “Now that so many of my friends have kids and my cousins ​​have kids, I tell everyone, ‘We missed this as kids. Such a magical place.’”

  • “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” has a new Satine — Natalie Mendoza, who had a small role in the 2001 film from which the Tony-winning show was adapted.

  • Holiday windows are back. “Yay, yay, yay, lights!” said Michelle Obama, the former first lady, before pressing a giant button to reveal the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue. New York shoppers are back, too.


Dear Diary:

My friend had just landed a job in New York after graduating from law school, so one clear summer morning we packed our meager belongings into an oversized rental car and drove off to begin our first attempt at urban living.

It would be an understatement to say we were nervous as we drove the truck through Manhattan’s narrow side streets. Our anxiety peaked as we turned into the street where our new apartment was.

Ahead, a large moving van like ours was double parked, leaving us an impossibly narrow lane to navigate.

Somehow I knew this was our first test. Without slowing down, I pushed the truck through the space by inches on either side.

As I pulled up in front of our new address, a taxi driver yelled out his window as he whizzed past.

“Nice driving!” he screamed.

I barely noticed the six flights to the apartment.

— G. Steve Jordan

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

Glad we could get together here. See you on Monday. — JB

PS Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and game match. Here you will find all our puzzles.

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