People Stopped Killing Each Other in New York City for a Week, Probably Because It's Cold

The welcome streak comes after weeks of tension between the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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Feb 10 2015, 1:00pm

Photo via Flickr user NYC Department of Transportation

As of Sunday night, it had been a week since anyone in New York City has murdered anybody else. The fact that this is a news story sounds incredibly depressing, but the streak is pretty notable. In fact, we're in the running for the longest stretch without a fatal stabbing or shooting in the past five years.

The last murder in New York City was on February 1, when five people were shot by two gunmen in Hamilton Heights, near Harlem, and one died. Shadale Graham, a 28-year-old father, was reportedly flirting with a group of women outside of a Crown Fried Chicken restaurant. As he walked away, he was attacked from behind. Police are saying the shooting may have been gang-related, although Graham's mother contends he was too old to have been in a gang.

The new streak comes after a period of sustained tension between cops and Mayor Bill de Blasio stemming from his (relatively mild) criticisms of the NYPD. If nothing else, the murder count bottoming out is a sign that the city has not descended into total lawlessness, and that cops are back on the job after taking a bit of a breather in December.

So what are the odds this will continue? It probably depends on the weather. In January 2013, the city had a nine-day no-murder streak. Last February, the five boroughs went a whopping ten days without any murders. Apparently, when people are cooped up inside, they're less likely kill each other.

"There's no single answer, but to the extent that weather played a role, we're ready for more cold weather," then NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said at the time.

Lending some support for that theory is the fact that people seem to die more when it's hot outside. As the New York Times reported a few years ago, September nights, in particular, seem to be prime killing season.

So the conventional wisdom is that there's an inverse relationship between temperature and senseless death. But weather can only go so far, and the fact that murders were up 18 percent in January compared to the same period last year is disquieting. Still, the temperature is supposed to drop precipitously by the weekend, so here's to hoping it gives New York City a few more days of relative peace.

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