A slashing spike on streets, subways and housing is making New Yorkers nervous, the police commissioner acknowledged Monday as he promised to sharpen the NYPD's approach to those cases.
"Slashings, stabbings, cuttings, whatever the terminology, what we'll be doing this year is putting more precision on the definitions that we use to describe these cases that we're investigating," NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told the City Council's Public Safety Committee Monday.
He appeared before the council for the NYPD's annual preliminary budget hearing and his remarks were in response to questions from the council on the rash of slashing and stabbing incidents in the city.
Slicing the incidents into categories and dicing the data is what Bratton did decades ago with shootings, tracking them as a separate category.
Slashings and stabbings are "much lower than we experienced back in the '90s and much lower than we experienced even a few years ago, but as other crimes have gone down, there's increased focus there," Bratton said.
As of Monday, the number of slashings is up 20 percent since last year, with a total of 151 more incidents this year: 899 year to date in 2016, versus 748 year to date in 2015.
The NYPD says most of that increase is being driven by a large number of cases in the Bronx and in public housing, with incidents described as emotion-driven and examples of domestic violence -- not random acts of violence.
"We have not identified patterns or any idea that any one person is doing multiple. We've had several where two or three were attributed to one individual," said Bratton.
While the commissioner tried to downplay fears of a slashing spree, he even said New Yorkers are only focused on this uptick because other major crimes are down. But Bratton is savvy about how public perception plays into politics and policing, so he validated New Yorkers' concerns and promised another announcement Tuesday with the mayor on the subject.