New York City's Reduced Crime Rates: Don't Be Fooled

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio recently boasted of a historic reduction in the city's crime rates.  While statistics don't lie, they can be pretty deceptive if not analyzed intelligently and within the proper context.   

Upon closer examination, it is eminently clear that the main reductions in crime have occurred in the rough and generally known to be unsafe neighborhoods, which are more often than not located in housing project areas of Brooklyn and the Bronx.  The notoriously high number of shootings in East New York, Brownsville, Mott Haven, Port Morris, and so forth has declined, as residents of these heavily crime-infested regions are killing each other less and are victims of violence at a reduced frequency – whereas the safer areas of the city, such as Manhattan's Upper East Side and Financial District, Brooklyn's Borough Park (Chassidic), and large areas of Queens and Staten Island, were always considered safe, and the crime reduction statistics thus do not really impact there.

Unlike the unfortunate situation with the high-crime neighborhoods of South Bronx and Upper Brooklyn, people walking by Trump Tower, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Stock Exchange never feared being grazed by flying bullets or being caught in the middle of a street gang shooting or stabbing rampage (notwithstanding the recent and unusual very high-profile violent crimes in Midtown Manhattan).  So while this crime reduction is a success, it is one of a limited scope – so limited that it is not really felt by the majority of New Yorkers and visitors to the city.

(It should also be noted that the dramatic reduction in crime started under Mayor Giuliani and was maintained and built upon by Mayor Bloomberg.  Mayor de Blasio did not initiate this trend, nor did he reverse or halt a wave of criminal activity.  The credit for such goes to his predecessors, whose policing policies de Blasio criticized and pledged to reverse.)

So how has the majority of New York City fared under the current mayor, seeing that it has not materially benefited from the lower crime rates in the city's roughest of neighborhoods?  The answer: pretty badly.  The reason: a precipitous decrease in quality of life in nearly every single neighborhood in the city.

It is almost impossible to walk through the streets of even the best parts of Manhattan and not to smell marijuana and other non-tobacco smoked substances, see homeless people lying on the streets, and be accosted by panhandlers and vagrants.  This morning, as I took the subway to Midtown Manhattan for an appointment, I had to exit the station through a different turnstile, as a large yellow puddle (which was not lemonade!) covered the floor of the main turnstile exit.  Several feet away, along all of the subway station's walls, lay sleeping homeless people in squalor on filthy old blankets.  It was not only heartbreaking, but also unhealthy and unacceptable.  After ascending the stairs and starting to walk down 49th Street, I had to dodge a drugged panhandler, as more homeless people lay at the edge of the sidewalk.  This all occurred within about three minutes.  And it occurs all the time for the millions of New York City's residents.

I recall last summer, when taking my daughter downtown to a (fabulous) kosher pizzeria, that we had to make a three-block detour because the street we planned to take was covered with derelicts and drug addicts, who made it impossible to get through without being accosted or having to walk over and between them as they lay on the street and leaned against every lamppost and fire hydrant.  And on the way back, we had to avoid an onslaught of aggressive panhandlers – who likewise appeared to be drugged or intoxicated – as we made our way to Penn Station.

This is not the New York City of Mayor Giuliani or Mayor Bloomberg.  It has gotten noticeably bad.

Local New York City newspapers have documented the dramatic decrease in the quality of life.  See here and here, or Google the issue and see what's going on.  Or, better yet, visit New York City and see for yourself.

What has the de Blasio administration done in this regard?  Believe it or not, the New York City Council, with the blessing of the mayor, has decriminalized quality of life offenses (!).  New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito ironically declared:

This is a huge win for criminal justice reform. For too long, our criminal justice system was broken and it was time we took action. The Criminal Justice Reform Act will prevent tens of thousands of people from getting a criminal record for low-level, non-violent offenses and over its lifetime it is going to change trajectories for countless New Yorkers.

Now, under this brilliant new liberal-progressive system, "public urination and most offenses in public parks will be downgraded from misdemeanors to violations," according to news reports.  And the New York Post reported:

Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), who voted in favor of the bills, urged "hysterical" critics to reconsider how criminal rec­ords picked up over minor offenses could hobble young minorities' "access to financial aid and higher education."

"These essential elements of a decent life ... can be easily blighted by the lingering stigma of a criminal record," he said.

In conjunction with all this, the Manhattan district attorney will not prosecute offenses relating to quality of life.  Same for the Brooklyn D.A.

Under the previous two mayoral administrations, declining neighborhoods underwent gentrification and were ungraded and restored to appealing places, drawing in new businesses and residents in a major way.  This was done via enhanced quality of life enforcement.  But now, an anti-gentrification, anti-white, anti-Semitic City Council candidate has undertaken to reverse this trend in parts of Harlem, as he spurts forth ugly racist and bigoted charges.  Thomas Lopez-Pierre, in an effort to unseat City Council member Mark Levine, has charged:

For almost 15 to 20 years, these Jewish landlords have been at the forefront at pushing black and Latino people out. I think it's hypocritical for the Jewish community and Jewish leaders to look the other way while black and Latino people are being pushed out of their communities to make room for white people.

Lopez-Pierre, who has a domestic abuse record and who admitted to lying as part of a fundraising scheme, has gone ballistic with allegations about Jewish landlords gentrifying Upper Manhattan at the expense of minorities and attempting to "ethnically cleanse" these areas of blacks and Hispanics.  Despite protests about his many ugly words, Lopez-Pierre is not backing down, and no one has done anything to effectively stop him.

This is the new New York City. If this is progress, then I have a bridge to sell ya.   

Avrohom Gordimer serves on the editorial board of Jewish Action magazine, is a staff writer for the Cross-Currents website, and is a frequent contributor to Israel National News and a host of other publications.  He is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America and the New York Bar, and he is also a senior rabbinic fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, a public policy institute reflecting traditional Jewish thoughtBy day, he works as an account executive at a large Jewish organization based in Manhattan.  The views expressed in the above article are solely those of the writer.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio recently boasted of a historic reduction in the city's crime rates.  While statistics don't lie, they can be pretty deceptive if not analyzed intelligently and within the proper context.   

Upon closer examination, it is eminently clear that the main reductions in crime have occurred in the rough and generally known to be unsafe neighborhoods, which are more often than not located in housing project areas of Brooklyn and the Bronx.  The notoriously high number of shootings in East New York, Brownsville, Mott Haven, Port Morris, and so forth has declined, as residents of these heavily crime-infested regions are killing each other less and are victims of violence at a reduced frequency – whereas the safer areas of the city, such as Manhattan's Upper East Side and Financial District, Brooklyn's Borough Park (Chassidic), and large areas of Queens and Staten Island, were always considered safe, and the crime reduction statistics thus do not really impact there.

Unlike the unfortunate situation with the high-crime neighborhoods of South Bronx and Upper Brooklyn, people walking by Trump Tower, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Stock Exchange never feared being grazed by flying bullets or being caught in the middle of a street gang shooting or stabbing rampage (notwithstanding the recent and unusual very high-profile violent crimes in Midtown Manhattan).  So while this crime reduction is a success, it is one of a limited scope – so limited that it is not really felt by the majority of New Yorkers and visitors to the city.

(It should also be noted that the dramatic reduction in crime started under Mayor Giuliani and was maintained and built upon by Mayor Bloomberg.  Mayor de Blasio did not initiate this trend, nor did he reverse or halt a wave of criminal activity.  The credit for such goes to his predecessors, whose policing policies de Blasio criticized and pledged to reverse.)

So how has the majority of New York City fared under the current mayor, seeing that it has not materially benefited from the lower crime rates in the city's roughest of neighborhoods?  The answer: pretty badly.  The reason: a precipitous decrease in quality of life in nearly every single neighborhood in the city.

It is almost impossible to walk through the streets of even the best parts of Manhattan and not to smell marijuana and other non-tobacco smoked substances, see homeless people lying on the streets, and be accosted by panhandlers and vagrants.  This morning, as I took the subway to Midtown Manhattan for an appointment, I had to exit the station through a different turnstile, as a large yellow puddle (which was not lemonade!) covered the floor of the main turnstile exit.  Several feet away, along all of the subway station's walls, lay sleeping homeless people in squalor on filthy old blankets.  It was not only heartbreaking, but also unhealthy and unacceptable.  After ascending the stairs and starting to walk down 49th Street, I had to dodge a drugged panhandler, as more homeless people lay at the edge of the sidewalk.  This all occurred within about three minutes.  And it occurs all the time for the millions of New York City's residents.

I recall last summer, when taking my daughter downtown to a (fabulous) kosher pizzeria, that we had to make a three-block detour because the street we planned to take was covered with derelicts and drug addicts, who made it impossible to get through without being accosted or having to walk over and between them as they lay on the street and leaned against every lamppost and fire hydrant.  And on the way back, we had to avoid an onslaught of aggressive panhandlers – who likewise appeared to be drugged or intoxicated – as we made our way to Penn Station.

This is not the New York City of Mayor Giuliani or Mayor Bloomberg.  It has gotten noticeably bad.

Local New York City newspapers have documented the dramatic decrease in the quality of life.  See here and here, or Google the issue and see what's going on.  Or, better yet, visit New York City and see for yourself.

What has the de Blasio administration done in this regard?  Believe it or not, the New York City Council, with the blessing of the mayor, has decriminalized quality of life offenses (!).  New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito ironically declared:

This is a huge win for criminal justice reform. For too long, our criminal justice system was broken and it was time we took action. The Criminal Justice Reform Act will prevent tens of thousands of people from getting a criminal record for low-level, non-violent offenses and over its lifetime it is going to change trajectories for countless New Yorkers.

Now, under this brilliant new liberal-progressive system, "public urination and most offenses in public parks will be downgraded from misdemeanors to violations," according to news reports.  And the New York Post reported:

Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), who voted in favor of the bills, urged "hysterical" critics to reconsider how criminal rec­ords picked up over minor offenses could hobble young minorities' "access to financial aid and higher education."

"These essential elements of a decent life ... can be easily blighted by the lingering stigma of a criminal record," he said.

In conjunction with all this, the Manhattan district attorney will not prosecute offenses relating to quality of life.  Same for the Brooklyn D.A.

Under the previous two mayoral administrations, declining neighborhoods underwent gentrification and were ungraded and restored to appealing places, drawing in new businesses and residents in a major way.  This was done via enhanced quality of life enforcement.  But now, an anti-gentrification, anti-white, anti-Semitic City Council candidate has undertaken to reverse this trend in parts of Harlem, as he spurts forth ugly racist and bigoted charges.  Thomas Lopez-Pierre, in an effort to unseat City Council member Mark Levine, has charged:

For almost 15 to 20 years, these Jewish landlords have been at the forefront at pushing black and Latino people out. I think it's hypocritical for the Jewish community and Jewish leaders to look the other way while black and Latino people are being pushed out of their communities to make room for white people.

Lopez-Pierre, who has a domestic abuse record and who admitted to lying as part of a fundraising scheme, has gone ballistic with allegations about Jewish landlords gentrifying Upper Manhattan at the expense of minorities and attempting to "ethnically cleanse" these areas of blacks and Hispanics.  Despite protests about his many ugly words, Lopez-Pierre is not backing down, and no one has done anything to effectively stop him.

This is the new New York City. If this is progress, then I have a bridge to sell ya.   

Avrohom Gordimer serves on the editorial board of Jewish Action magazine, is a staff writer for the Cross-Currents website, and is a frequent contributor to Israel National News and a host of other publications.  He is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America and the New York Bar, and he is also a senior rabbinic fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, a public policy institute reflecting traditional Jewish thoughtBy day, he works as an account executive at a large Jewish organization based in Manhattan.  The views expressed in the above article are solely those of the writer.

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