'Crime wave' hits Central Park

Since Mayor Bill De Blasio took over last year, the quality of life of New Yorkers has taken a nosedive.

A change in policing strategy has allowed the homeless free rein to wander neighborhoods, accosting people, urinating in public -- or worse. Previously, such "quality of life" offenses like loitering, disorderly conduct and public drunkeness were enforced. But now, there is a crime wave hitting the city as some offenses have more than doubled over the past year.

Specifically, there are twice as many muggings in Central Park this year than last. There are more drug arrests and purse snatchings, and even world-weary New Yorkers are starting to notice.

The New York Post reports on a particularly brutal mugging:

“If you scream I’ll kill you,” were the last words the 53-year-old victim heard Thursday night as the fiend’s arm tightened around his throat and he collapsed to the ground, cops said.

Upon regaining consciousness about half an hour later, the victim, of West 57th Street, found that his wallet was gone.

His backpack, which held glasses, keys, gift cards, jewelry and cash, was also gone, cops said.

News of the brutal mugging had park-goers on edge Saturday.

“He could have died — that’s awful,” said Martin Ovalle, 38, who runs in the park at night and takes his wife and two young daughters to the Ramble on weekends.

“We are seeing a lot more now than in the past,” Ovalle agreed.

The Post has the grim statistics:

Though felony assaults are down in the park this year, misdemeanor assaults are up.

There were 15 misdemeanor assaults between Jan. 1 and July 26 of this year, as opposed to 11 for the same period last year.

And narcotics arrests in the park have more than doubled this year.

There were 23 drug busts between Jan. 1 and July 26 of this year, as opposed to 10 for the same period last year.

Still, the number of criminal summonses has taken a nose dive, Perhaps pointing to more lax enforcement if such quality of life offenses as loitering, disorderly conduct, or public drinking and urinating.

Between Jan. 1 and July 26, parks cops wrote 2,100 summonses.

But during the same months of last year, they wrote 3,026 summonses.

The "broken windows" approach to policing begun during the Guiliani admninstration, which saw crime drop significantly, depended on getting anti-social elements off the streets by arresting them for less serious crimes. Widely criticized by liberals, De Blasio appears to be reversing that policy -- with predictable results. 

I don't know how much of a "crime wave" the increase in muggings represent, but it is definitely a troubling trend that city officials should take note of and act decisively to stop.

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