Word from police officials came quickly: The targeted killings of two New York City police officers meant that officers on foot patrols must walk only in pairs, and uniformed sentries would now guard each precinct station house.
They were new orders to a force that was already racking up overtime covering demonstrations. But William J. Bratton, the police commissioner, assured reporters that there would be no letdown in enforcement.
Then the latest official statistics came in.
Arrests for crimes large and small, as well as tickets for minor infractions, are down drastically across the city. The department has not said whether it believes that officers are acting in concert — as a result of a specific job action — or whether the officers’ deaths produced a spontaneous response.
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The two precincts most directly affected by the deaths — the 79th, where Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were gunned down as they sat in their patrol car on a Brooklyn street; and the 84th, where they were usually assigned — saw a single criminal summons in the week that ended Sunday, according to Police Department statistics. Officers in those precincts wrote no parking or traffic tickets. By contrast, the combined tally of criminal summonses alone during the same week last year reached 130, the department statistics showed.
Mr. Bratton said on Monday that a “weeklong period of mourning” and demonstrations that were straining resources were contributing to the drop-off in arrests and summonses. But he said the slowdown should not concern New Yorkers. “I would point out it has not had an impact on the city’s safety at all,” Mr. Bratton said.
A top union official flatly denied that there was a job action and pointed to the orders to double up and the need to police demonstrations as the main reasons.
“No one has sanctioned a slowdown or stoppage,” said Edward Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association. “That is not something that anybody came out and said to do.”
He added: “We have demonstrations every night of the week, to which cops are being pulled into every night. We have had two officers killed that has changed the everyday duties of what we are doing, and one of those changes is the consistency of patrol cars backing each other up on radio assignments.”
He said summonses were simply not a priority at moments like this.
Still, one senior police official who reviewed precinct-level data across the city said the decline had the signs of an organized effort and was continuing this week.
It is not uncommon for a grieving station house to ease up on enforcement for a brief period. Enforcement numbers can fluctuate from station house to station house, and from week to week, for a number of other reasons, too, including shifts in personnel or directives from commanders. The holidays can also be a factor.
But the drop-off in activity in Bedford-Stuyvesant and in Downtown Brooklyn could not explain the sharp slowdown in routine enforcement in each of the city’s 77 police precincts, from the 120th in Staten Island to the 47th in the Bronx.
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In the week after Officers Ramos and Liu were killed on Dec. 20, the number of summonses for minor criminal offenses, as well as those for parking and traffic violations, decreased by more than 90 percent versus the same week a year earlier. And arrests over seven major categories of felony offenses were nearly 40 percent lower, the numbers show.
“Police do have some discretion, and sometimes they use it in waves,” said Dennis C. Smith, a professor of public policy at New York University, who has studied Operation Impact, one of the department’s signature initiatives.
Michael J. Palladino, the head of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, said that while a stoppage was not sanctioned for detectives, in his opinion it was understandable.
“Cops have feelings, too,” he said. “Now they are the targets of execution. That’s enough to make anyone hesitate, regardless of your profession.”
On New Year’s Eve, officers mustering in the lobby of The New York Times before taking up posts in Times Square were told to stay alert and poised.
“There are people out there who don’t like us,” one supervisor told the mix of veteran officers and ones minted only on Monday. They then had a moment of silence for Officers Ramos and Liu, who, another supervisor said, “would want us to be professional.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans on Wednesday to name streets in Brooklyn after the officers.
Those who oppose the department’s use of aggressive policing for minor crimes found themselves applauding the drop in summonses.
“Ironically, this is the kind of thing we’re calling for,” said Robert Gangi, the director of the Police Reform Organizing Project. “It’s officers deciding on their own to, in effect, scale back on the application of broken-windows policing.”
This year, the Police Department was on pace to record fewer arrests. Through Sunday, overall arrests fell to 387,461 this year, from 392,740 in the same period in 2013, a 1.3 percent decline.
Within that, though, officers made more arrests for serious felonies.
Through Sunday, felony arrests totaled 42,849, a 4 percent increase over the 41,144 felony arrests in the same period last year.
Police officials have stressed that resources, usually deployed to fight crime, have been depleted because of protests since Dec. 3, when a grand jury declined to charge an officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
The officials said that as many as 2,000 officers a day were being assigned, or put on standby, to monitor the demonstrations.
Nikita Stewart and Benjamin Mueller contributed reporting.