New York City began to prepare its security for the traditional Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration literally January 1, 2017. There will be 1,000 video cameras and trucks filled with sand to block any form of terrorism. The city has snipers on the buildings and officers posted in the hotels. Yet, NYC with its 8.5 million residents is surprisingly safe.
In 1990, there were 2,245 murders, but just over a quarter of a century later, things look a so different, it is hard to believe this is the same city. The murder rate was the lowest in 2017, since the city began keeping reliable records in the 1950’s.
There were just 286 killings this year, and all crime has fallen throughout the city, according to The New York Times:
‘In each of the major felony categories — murder and manslaughter, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, grand larceny, and car thefts — to a total of 94,806 as of Sunday, well below the previous record low of 101,716 set last year.’
Although Donald Trump’s Department of Justice’s claims that crime is up in New York City, the statistics tell a far different story.
In 2014, there were 333 murders and crime has been on the decline in the city for 27 straight years. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s police have reduced the number of times they have stopped and frisked people, which has been a controversial practice. The force is making fewer arrests, and using far less deadly force.
William Bratton recently retired from his second tour as police commissioner. He told the New York Times:
‘There is no denying that the arc is truly exceptional in the unbroken streak of declining crime.’
Now, the police are able to turn toward helping people in emotional crises. Although just 7,000 police officers have completed crisis intervention training, they answered 157,000 of these calls in 2016. However, such calls are not without danger.
Police shot Miguel Richards in September in the Bronx and Dwayne Jeune in July in Brooklyn. One officer was charged with murder after he shot a mentally ill woman, Deborah Danner in October 2016.
Franklin Zimring, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Law, analyzed the first two decades of New York’s crime reduction and then wrote a book about it. He said:
‘We don’t know when we’ve exhausted the possibilities of urban crime decline, and we won’t know unless and until New York scrapes bottom.’
The only area where crime has risen is in the number rapes reported in recent months. The reports followed the public accusations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. As women began to stand up against powerful men, like the producer, a #MeToo movement surged forward, tearing the fabric of our culture.
Women have been too afraid or too ashamed to tell their stories, and that is still an issue, but the movement has its own momentum. New York City police officials also credit news coverage and their own efforts at fighting domestic violence.
President of the JFA Institute, a criminal justice policy not-for-profit organization, James Austin said:
‘What the Fed does will have more of an impact than any sentencing or police reforms.’
Homicide rates in other major metropolitan areas, such as Detroit and Chicago, have also dropped. On the other hand, smaller cities, such as Charlotte and Baltimore, have seen increases.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill spoke to reporters at a December briefing:
‘We can’t answer definitively (the cause). At least I can’t. But we’re seeing people coming forward and having faith in the N.Y.P.D. And that’s what we want to happen.’
Shootings plummeted in NYC to 774 so far this year, while last year’s number was 998.
Featured Image via Getty Images/Spencer Platt.