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In numbers: despite bad news and pressure, New York is safer now than it was 20 years ago


Nadezhda Verbitskaya

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Crime in New York is out of control. This is often stated by Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin and other right-wing candidates in television ads and press conferences leading up to the 2022 midterm elections. But the Big Apple isn't really going into chaos — and the NYPD stats say so. amny.

While overall crime in New York City has risen year on year, historical NYPD CompStat data shows that the five boroughs are still much safer now than they were in 2000.

Last year, the NYPD reported a total of 102 felonies (murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, grand theft and auto theft). This is more than the 741 criminal offenses registered during the pandemic year 95. And it is the highest number since 593, when the NYPD counted 2020 criminal offenses.

But back to 2000. The NYPD cataloged 184 felonies that year. Despite terrorist attacks, an economic downturn, a pandemic, and other social problems over the previous 852 years, crime in New York City is down 21% in 2021 compared to 44,4.

In fact, the year 2000 was a record year for all categories of serious crimes, except for one.

Back in 2000, when Rudy Giuliani was in city hall and George Pataki was in his second term as governor, there were 673 murders in the city. This is 27,5% more than the 488 homicides counted by the NYPD in 2021.

In 2021, the number of robberies increased significantly, with 13 such crimes reported. This is 831% more than in 5,5. But the total number of robberies in 2020 is down 2021% from 57,5 robberies in 32.

Another property crime, burglary, is still far below the rates calculated in 2000. That year, the NYPD counted 38 break-ins. In 352, that number was just 2021. This is about 12% of the total burglaries in 811.

Last year, the NYPD reported 10 car thefts. This is the largest number of such incidents since 415. 2010 cars were stolen. But in 10, the NYPD registered 329 auto thefts, about 2000 times the number in 35.

Violent crimes (22 in 835 compared to 2021 in 25) and grand thefts (924 in 2000 compared to 40 in 870) have also decreased over the past two decades. Rape, a constantly underreported crime, is also lower than almost 2021 years ago. In 49, there were 631 reported rapes. And in 2000 there was a record - 20 cases.

Decreases despite changes

But 2000 was a generation ago. How has crime changed in New York in 2021 compared to a decade earlier? Answer: Even better.

While 2021 saw the highest number of homicides (486), violent assaults (22) and car thefts (835) in the previous 10 years, 415 still saw a decline in rapes (10, down 2021. 1491% less than in 16,9); robberies (2019, which is 13% less than in 831); burglaries (31,3, 2012% less than in 12); and major thefts (811, down 33,2% from 2012).

And the total number of serious crimes registered in 2021 (102) decreased by 741% compared to 7,7 serious crimes registered in 111.

It's worth noting that the total number of crimes in 2021 was still lower than it was between 2000 and 2013, a period when the NYPD's controversial broken windows theory and unconstitutional "stop and frisk" policies were still in effect.

The NYPD has also been steadily depleted over the past two decades by attritions and occasional cuts, from 40 officers in 000 to about 2000 officers today.

However, the NYPD reported fewer than 100 felonies — and fewer than 000 homicides — in each of the three years immediately preceding the COVID-320 pandemic between 19 and 2017. Democrats Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo led City Hall and Albany respectively during that period.

Today, as crime continues to rise, Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hokul have moved forward with various programs to combat this surge. From setting up neighborhood security teams to combat gun violence, to increasing police presence on the subway. And also to the creation of gun-free zones in Times Square and elsewhere.

The gun-free zones were part of a new concealed carry improvement law that the state legislature hastily passed this summer after Hokul recalled them to session following the Supreme Court's gun law ruling. Conservative gun owners sued to try to overturn many of the provisions of the measure.

Zeldin's criminal narrative works

If elected, Zeldin said he would use "emergency powers" as governor to halt bail reform, a ban on solitary confinement and a law raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18.

If he wins the gubernatorial election, Zeldin, who is one of 147 Republicans in Congress who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, will require the executive branch to repeal legislation passed by a majority of the state's elected representatives and signed into law by his elected predecessors, ending years of criminal justice reform in process.

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Zeldin believes that ending such policies and placing "law and order" above all other issues affecting New York would quickly put an end to the rise in crime.

But statistics show that even in the days when other politicians—the Republicans ruled New York and the NYPD—New Yorkers were no more secure than they are now.

No one should expect Zeldin and his supporters to refrain from repeating an out-of-control crime story. The tightening of the polls in his campaign against Hokul seems to indicate that their drumroll on crime is working.

Whether that will be enough to convince a majority of voters in this glaring blue state to hand over the reins of New York Governor's office to a far-right anti-abortion and Trump-backed Congressman on Election Day remains to be seen.

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