Professor John Pfaff Shares Expert Opinion with NYT on Surge in August Shootings

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Professor John Pfaff shared his expert opinion with The New York Times on the August surge in shootings throughout New York City.

The steep rise in gun violence that has rattled New York City and intensified the debate over policing continued at an alarming rate in August, as shootings more than doubled over the same period last year and murders rose by nearly 50 percent, the police said.

The data released on Wednesday reflected a trend many cities across the country are experiencing in a year already marked by a pandemic and civil unrest: a new surge in shootings, murders and other crimes that has public officials grasping for explanations and scrambling to respond.

John Pfaff, a law professor at Fordham University who has been scrutinizing crime statistics, said that crime in the city had reached historically low levels, making the current rise seem large in percentage terms.

“The percent change numbers look shocking because we’re doing so well, not necessarily because we’re doing so poorly,” he said.

He said that this year’s protests and the pandemic’s economic, social and emotional disruption could be heavily influencing the spike in crime, but much remains unclear.

“How much of that is Covid? How much of that is social unrest? How much of that is the policing response to that?” he said. “At this point it’s far, far too early to really be able to say.”

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