He is a strong leader capable of dealing with the greatest crisis. He didn't break down, weep, point fingers. I have the sense that the tragedies in New Orleans would not have happened if Rudy had been either the Mayor or the President.
He's a guy that I perceive to be focused on solutions rather than posturing.
Posts: 7604 | Registered: Oct 2004
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Giuliani has done nothing but exploit the 9/11 victims to build up a false image of himself. He didn't actually do much other than attend funerals but the media acted like it was the second coming of christ.
After the fact, a lot more info has come out about what really went on behind the scenes on 9/11 and it turns out there were some problems, and a lot of the families are now ripping mad at him.
His shennanigans at the end of his second term, trying to extend his term and do away with term limits didn't earn him any brownie points either.
I think if he becomes a serious threat he's going to have too many skeletons in his closet. Prior to 9/11 he wasn't that popular.
Posts: 1240 | Registered: Apr 2005
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Is it true that Hilary didn't attend any of the memorials for the firemen after 9-11? That sounds pretty politically stupid. Giuliani was at like 94 of them.
LF, you mean his mistress and all that? You just don't like him because he got all the porn out of Time Square!
The only reason he is known outside the boroughs, maybe. But millions voted for him before 9/11. My understanding is that he worked very hard to successfully reduce crime in a city that was silly with it. Starting with his work as a prosecutor.
Posts: 7604 | Registered: Oct 2004
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I'm not in love with the man but here are some things that I think may help explain why some people do.
The crime thing was mentioned. I don't know the details but I also heard that crime in NYC really went down during his tenure. I'd heard similar reports about how NYC looks. Littering went down big time. I grew up in NJ and around that time I'd hear people saying, "Have you been back to NYC lately? It's so much nicer now!" They'd tell me it looks and SMELLS dramatically better. This is a problem that NYC has had for ages and finally someone was able to DO SOMETHING about it that made a significant difference.
And the kicker was that some of the methods he used seemed like great common sense...the kind where you think, "Why haven't they been doing that all along?" For instance, I'd heard he made a policy for cops to bring beggars to shelters and off the streets. This helped people who legitimately needed help and didn't know where to find it and also kept everyone else from being pandhandled. I don't know the details or how it all worked out so I can't say that there weren't any downsides but at least on the surface it sounds great.
When I saw him at the 9/11 press conferences, what stood out to me was how he handled some tough questions from reporters. Again, I can't remember the details but people would ask him things like, "Why can't you do X about Y" and he'd be able to calmly and articulately describe why he wants to do X but the problem is that it'd get in the way of Z which he feels is a higher priority because of W. And at the end of it all, I'd go from supporting the reporters gripe to at least agreeing with Giuliani's priorities. I felt like he wasn't brushing off the question or just saying, "We're trying our best" and leaving it at that. He gave a reasoning behind it and let me into his mindset to understand his priorities and his gameplan (all of which seemed reasonable).
To be honest, this is much of the same feeling I get when I walk away after hearing a speech by Obama. He can give straight talk that just makes sense.
I wish that was the bare minimum of a politician. Unfortunately, when people see it nowadays they often go gaga for the guy.
Posts: 3635 | Registered: Nov 2000
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"And the kicker was that some of the methods he used seemed like great common sense...the kind where you think, "Why haven't they been doing that all along?" For instance, I'd heard he made a policy for cops to bring beggars to shelters and off the streets."
The way he handled this was atrocious. Please look carefully at what he actually did before endorsing this. Essentially, he ordered the police to kidnap homeless people. THats not good... its illegal.
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If panhandling is illegal, then taking them in to the police station wouldn't be considered kidnapping, would it? How about letting them off with a warning after dropping them off at a shelter? Kidnapping? I'll admit I don't know the details and I said that from the start before "endorsing" it. I don't know how it was handled exactly and it could have had major downsides in practice. I can't speak to that but I did acknowledge the possibilities.
It wasn't handled by removing panhandlers, it wa handled by removing people who were breaking no laws. It, essentially, made not having a home illegal.
And thats one major reason that I could never endorse guiliani, aside from anything else he had done. He tried to make it a crime to be a person of a certain class, and I can't find how that is compatible with any understanding of american ideals.
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Hey Ev, your way of "liberal compassion" was tried for decades in New York. That lead to the problems that Giuliani eventually had to fix. All you guys that oppose him decry his "police state" tactics.
Sorry...but it worked. Compassion for the less fortunate should not be carte blanche acceptance to whatever degradations they plague society with.
As for myself, I too think he was a bit to exploitative in playing up his image of the 9/11 messiah...but I will ALWAYS give him credit for telling that Saudi Prince to take his money and beat it because he made a statement that the US had brought 9/11 on to itself at the press conference where he was donating the money to the city.
That is the kind of guy I want when it comes to dealing with goons like Mahmoud Amadjihad, Hugeass Chavez and Kim Jong MentallyIll.
Posts: 7543 | Registered: Nov 2003
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I haven't studied this thoroughly, but what I have read has indicated that Giuliani was fortunate enough to begin his administration at a period of time when crime had already been trending down. There are also claims that he manipulated policies with the primary purpose of decreasing crime statistics rather than actually decreasing crime.
quote:In the final days of the administration of David Dinkins, we had 36 consecutive months of decline in the crime statistics across the board, in the seven index crimes. Murder went down 14 percent. Those last 36 months under Dinkins reversed trends that were a decade old. Who should get the credit, the mayor who reversed the trend or the mayor who deepened the trend?
quote:The statistic in burglary that has gone down dramatically, by 90 percent under Giuliani, is this victimless attempted forced burglary. In one year, 1996, it went from thirty thousand to four thousand. This is unparalleled anywhere else in the United States. It went from 41 percent of all burglaries to three percent of all burglaries.
And how did it happen? When you call a precinct and tell them, "Somebody tried to break into my house. Come over and take a look," they will tell you, "We don't do that anymore. If you want to report an attempted forced burglary come to the precinct." There is no insurance claim to file, so people don't go to the precinct. That is why that statistic dropped off the books of the City of New York.
This may just be partisan smearing, so I'd be interested in what evidence is available to show that Giuliani instituted policies that can be directly credited for declining crime.
Posts: 3462 | Registered: Jan 2006
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quote:What did kick into high gear in late 1994, when New York crime began its dramatic dive, however, and what continues today, is the most focused form of policing in history. Zimring estimates that up to half of New York’s crime drop in the 1990s, and virtually 100 percent of its continuing crime decline since 2000, has resulted from policing. And credit for keeping Gotham on the path of ongoing crime reduction belongs to Ray Kelly, serving his second tour of duty as the NYPD’s commissioner.
It was by no means certain that New York would hold fast to its tough-minded crime-fighting methods when a new mayor took office in 2002. The department could have gone back to the feel-good but feckless “community policing” that it practiced in the crime-ridden pre-Giuliani period. Giuliani loyalists, perennially predicting le déluge, greeted Kelly’s appointment with dismay. Not only had he served as police commissioner during the last two years of the disastrous David Dinkins mayoralty (ending in 1994); he also had joined the chorus criticizing Giuliani-style aggressive policing. In 1996, Kelly told Time that attributing New York’s crime turnaround to policing made no sense: “It’s like trying to take credit for an eclipse,” he observed. “A lot of people aren’t comfortable with this style. It goes to the question of what kind of policing we want in America. You can probably shut down just about all crime, if you’re willing to burn down the village to save it. Eventually, I think, there will be a backlash, and crime will go back up.”
But to his immense credit (and that of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has backed him), Kelly has maintained the heart of New York’s policing revolution—the now-famous accountability mechanism known as Compstat, a weekly crime-control meeting where top brass grill precinct bosses about every last detail of their command—even as he has refined the department’s ability to analyze and respond to crime trends. Kelly has also molded the force into a vital defense against terrorism. The NYPD now gathers more antiterror intelligence than any U.S. public entity outside the federal government, and probably shares it better, too (see box). The counterterrorism mission took 1,000 cops off their usual beats, adding to the loss of more than 3,000 officers through attrition during Mayor Bloomberg’s first term. Despite the force contractions, Kelly has kept crime rates moving downward.
Kelly is as intense a commissioner as the department has had since Giuliani’s first top cop, William Bratton. He rarely awards himself a vacation beyond a long weekend. With typical reticence, he refuses to discuss how his view of policing may have evolved over the years. “That is ancient history now,” he says curtly, in his large police-headquarters office. “We have to do our own thing here. Compstat we still use, but we do a lot of things differently.” For all his desire to distinguish himself from his predecessors, though, Kelly is now fully on board with the philosophy that policing can control crime. Asked if there’s a floor beneath which crime can’t drop further, he responds: “We don’t accept any crime increase—we will continue to drive it down with technology and tactics.”
Kelly’s legacy will include a strengthened commitment to quality-of-life enforcement, new strategies for deploying officers, and better use of technology. The commissioner’s passion for urban order is manifest. He grabs a large book from his desk, filled with color photos of nuisance offenses throughout the city. “Female drinking from an open container in public,” reads one photo. “Unlicensed vendor selling socks,” says another. “This [disorder] was something we knew we had to get a hold of,” he tells me. Kelly’s squad of photographers roams the city, documenting illegal street behavior; Kelly then e-mails the snapshots to the responsible precinct commanders to goad them into action.
Nervous New York residents interpret every sighting of a disheveled bum as a sign that the city is sliding back into chaos. But in fact the NYPD has beefed up its defenses against urban decay. Kelly has boosted the size of the homeless outreach unit and told it to start arresting people for trespassing and other crimes. “You have to lock up the right people,” Kelly explains unapologetically.
Locking up, or issuing summonses to, the right people lies at the heart of the NYPD’s “broken windows” policing. By going after misdemeanors like public urination or turnstile jumping, the police can intervene with a much broader segment of the population than if they only pursued serious felonies. Deputy Commissioner of Operations Garry McCarthy recalls the days when officials denigrated quality-of-life policing as a waste of resources. “When we weren’t as concerned with the public consumption of alcohol, for example, we lost the opportunity to interact with someone who may be a criminal,” he says. “By eliminating conditions, we’re apprehending criminals and stopping crimes waiting to happen: if you let those guys on the corner keep drinking, by nighttime, they may be committing felony assault against each other.”
The twenty-first-century NYPD combines Kelly’s belief in quality-of-life enforcement with a new method of deploying rookie cops to cool down crime hot spots. Rather than divvying up the 3,000 Police Academy grads each year among all the precincts, as it once did, the department now puts them in 21 high-crime areas, where they walk beats. You can’t move 50 yards in a so-called Impact Zone without crossing paths with an officer or two. Besides deterring crime by their mere presence, Impact cops hand out scores of nuisance summonses, helping to restore safety and order to their beats.
Eagerly sought by community boards, the rookie-saturated zones have almost always produced crime drops of 30 percent or so over their six-month spans. “While our Impact Zone was there, it was like heaven,” recalls Johnny Klein, a member of the clergy-affiliated Community Action Project in Flatbush and a resident of the 71st Precinct. “This huge weight gets lifted from the community; no one can do anything on the street that’s illegal. Everyone can see that the officers are green, but they outnumber the bad guys.”
Impact exploits one of the department’s greatest advantages: massive size. Policing is the one area where New York’s appetite for big government pays off. The city’s 37,000 officers add up to twice the per-capita average of other large cities; the department’s annual graduating class alone is larger than nearly every police force in the country. New York can throw officers at crime problems in a way that most departments can only dream about—though obviously it must throw them intelligently, with a plan and constant follow-up.
The NYPD tries to use its size to create the impression of omnipresence in would-be offenders’ minds. Talk to at-risk youth, and you get a sense that the effort is working: all report cops stopping and questioning them. Billy, an 18-year-old from high-crime East New York in Brooklyn, says undercovers stopped him three times last summer, looking for suspects. “They’ll give a ticket for throwing your cigarette on the ground or for standing on the corner,” he grumbles. Jay, a 17-year-old from Crown Heights on probation for violent attacks at his school, complains about a stop from the previous week, while he was hanging out in front of his apartment building. “They [the undercovers] came up to me and asked my name,” he says. “I was like, ‘Excuse me? I don’t give my name to strangers.’ ”
An ongoing decoy operation in the transit system also seeks to reinforce the sense that the cops are everywhere. Operation Lucky Bag plants “abandoned” backpacks and purses in the subways—and then nabs the thieves who take them. In a March sting on Coney Island, a group of four roving teens grabbed the decoy bag off a bench, tossed it onto an arriving train, and started dividing up the contents. A swarm of undercover officers suddenly materialized, seemingly out of nowhere, and arrested them. That gang will send the message to their friends that plainclothes cops may lurk anywhere. Lucky Bag also illustrates the broken-windows truth that petty offenders and hard-core criminals are often one and the same people. Among the serious thugs it has apprehended is one who tried to kill an officer in 1994.
Kelly understands the “direct correlation,” as he puts it, “between the size of the department and the amount of crime.” He will add 800 officers to the force, partially restoring post-9/11 cuts.
He sets equal store by technology and has two signature projects under way. The $12 million Real Time Crime Center applies data mining to crime solving. When a murder or shooting comes in over the police radio, analysts in the flashy downtown center get on their computers and search for all relevant info on the crime location, suspects, and victims. A mobile data van zooms to the crime scene and prints out the downtown center’s analyses, enabling detectives investigating the crime to track down relevant clues while they’re still hot. Whether the center will revolutionize crime solving remains to be seen, since some of its capacity, such as the mobile computer vans, remains underutilized. But the data banks that the department is developing could prove a bonanza to researchers seeking to understand who commits crimes, and why.
It’s a certainty, though, that Kelly’s second technology plan—to install over 500 cameras across the city—will increase the department’s ability to prevent and solve crimes. Anyone who still disputes that cameras deter criminals and terrorists—ACLU, that would be you!—should read the testimony of the Pakistani immigrant convicted in May of plotting to blow up New York’s Herald Square subway station. Shahawar Matin Siraj told an informant that he had cased the station for surveillance cameras but had found none, making it a prime target.
The key to the NYPD’s crime-fighting success remains Compstat, however. Policing skeptics rarely bother to study Compstat closely. If they did, they would be hard-pressed to explain how it couldn’t have an influence on crime and public order. The biggest problem in police departments is maintaining focus; in New York, Compstat keeps every commander monomaniacally zeroed in on lowering crime.
Commissioner Kelly left in place the previous administration’s two hard-charging heads of Compstat, Chief of Department Joseph Esposito and Deputy Commissioner of Operations Garry McCarthy, whose expertise gives the city a crime-fighting brain trust. For each week’s session, Compstat analysts pore over every statistic in the precinct scheduled for review—outstanding warrants and wanted cards, fingerprint hits, parolees in the area. They may drive to the precinct in an unmarked car at 3 am to monitor how officers respond to 911 calls, or comb detectives’ files to determine if they’re tracking down witnesses and perps as tirelessly as they should. A detective who has overlooked an opportunity to nab a robbery suspect at an unrelated court appearance, for example, will face an unpleasant time at Compstat. Have a precinct’s domestic-violence officers been visiting high-risk offenders at night and on weekends? If the officers have slacked off, supervisors will hear about it. And before a Compstat session, smart executive officers will go to the scene of every recent shooting to make sure that they know all its details.
After a thousand meetings since its inception, Compstat still possesses the capacity to terrify even those not on the hot seat. “I have literally perspired from my armpits to my waist after viewing an acrimonious Compstat grilling,” says one captain. But however grueling, Compstat is an unmatched mechanism for disseminating the department’s cumulative knowledge about tactics and for evaluating what does and doesn’t work. Theme-based meetings might review how to infiltrate pawnshops during burglary investigations, for instance, or how best to fight subway theft.
The results can be striking. The 83rd Precinct in Bushwick, Brooklyn, found itself called into Compstat after a bad week in January, when eight thefts of iPods and cell phones had pushed its monthly crime numbers up 19 percent. Two weeks later, after the Compstat session, crime had fallen nearly 21 percent.
The reason? Thanks to new deployment strategies developed at the Compstat meeting, the precinct had caught every one of the robbers. The commanding officers had also relearned long-term lessons at that Compstat session, such as not closing a case before the arrest of every assailant a victim identifies and ensuring that an arrest leads to an indictment. Compstat fights fatalism about the judicial system by demanding that commanders take responsibility for the entire course of crime fighting. “I squeeze the sergeants,” explains the 83rd Precinct’s Lieutenant John Viscardi. “I tell them: ‘When you go to court with an arrest, make sure you have everything you need for an indictment. Do you need backup from other officers or information from us?’ If the case is thrown out because of our negligence, that robber doesn’t just go back out on the street; he goes back emboldened.”
Under Kelly, the department has used Compstat to target multiple crimes committed by a single perp or group of perps. Because solving such “pattern crimes” produces a considerable bang for the law-enforcement buck, they receive intense attention until cleared, even if lots of time passes. If the Compstat analysts downtown decide that several robberies in fact are related, and the commander hasn’t identified the pattern, he will suffer.
Despite Compstat’s accountability safeguard, Deputy Commissioner McCarthy remains haunted by the specter of flagging performance. Asked what he worries about most, McCarthy responds: “That we start missing a step. We’re not yet at 100 percent efficiency. Do we lose track of things? We know what we have to do to keep it going; we have systems set up, but sometimes we fail because there’s a break in the link. We have to make our processes automatic.” The department is getting diminishing returns from its efforts, he says. “When we started out, if there were a hundred things we could do and we did ten, we’d get a 10 percent drop in crime. Now if we don’t do all 98, we’ll see an increase.”
Behind the worry is the sense that crime could shoot up again instantly. The criminal culture hasn’t changed, many officers believe. “It’s a struggle all the time,” says Michael Farrell, deputy commissioner of strategic initiatives, whose office conducts research on policing and crime. “It’s not simply a matter of fixing the problem five years ago. New cohorts of offenders are appearing all the time. You have to constantly create a sense of deterrence and order, so as to change the formulation that young people make about their likelihood of getting caught.”
And since the department lives by the numbers, it can also die by them. With crime so low, it takes only a few extra shootings or assaults to produce a large percentage increase in crime. One additional homicide can make a week’s citywide homicide numbers jump 14 percent over the previous year, for instance. The press will then seize on the percentage for the scary crime rising in new york story. Asked when they start to worry that crime really is going back up, most NYPD leaders deny the possibility. “We will never say that crime is going back up, because it won’t happen,” asserts McCarthy. “There are some precincts where crime is so low—ten incidents a week—that that may be all we can do. We’ll try to hold the line there, and push down on the big dogs like the 75th, 44th, and 46th Precincts [in Brooklyn and the Bronx]. The department should be responsible even for one extra crime a day. We’ll find ways to fix it by building a better mousetrap—through deployment, quickly apprehending criminals, and good sentencing work with the district attorney and probation.”
In most areas, the department’s performance justifies such bravado. Earlier this year, NYPD brass eyed the shooting numbers with concern. After dropping precipitously in 2004 to their lowest level in decades, shootings rose by 50 incidents, or 3 percent, in 2005. As of February 26, 2006, they were up 5 percent, or nine additional incidents, over the same period in 2005. Yet by June 18, shootings were down 3.7 percent compared with the previous year, and at 598 incidents since January 1, looked likely to come in even under the 652 incidents through June of the historically low 2004.
Are the Cops Underreporting Crime?
Despite the ongoing transformation of New York’s worst neighborhoods, policing skeptics continue to insinuate that the city’s crime drop is in part illusory. The police, they say, fudge the books in order to underreport crime.
The market alone would seem to refute this charge. If crime were far worse than the police disclosed, demand for residential and commercial space would eventually dry up. The opposite has happened.
But officers possess enormous discretion in whether and how to report crime. While absolutely no evidence has emerged that the NYPD systematically skews the numbers, sometimes officers do choose not to document certain crimes—usually for good reason.
A Harlem sergeant describes a typical incident of non-reporting: “Last weekend,” he says, “a known neighborhood knucklehead hit a kid. In retaliation, the kid’s whole family shows up at the perp’s apartment. The victim’s sisters kick in the apartment door. But the knucklehead’s mother beat the **** out of the sisters, leaving them lying on the floor with blood coming from their mouths.
“The victim’s family was looking for a fight: I could charge them with trespass. The perp’s mother is eligible for assault three for beating up the opposing family. But all of them were street ****, garbage. They will get justice in their own way. I told them: ‘We can all go to jail, or we can call it a wash.’ Otherwise, you’d have six bodies in prison for BS behavior. The district attorney would have been pissed. And none of them would ever show up in court.” So the officer sent the families packing, leaving the assaults off his ledger.
Less justifiably, officers also practice a “no harm, no foul” philosophy to avoid the paperwork hassle of filling out crime reports. Earlier this year, a rookie working the East Harlem Impact Zone heard gunshots on 109th Street but could find neither shooter nor any victims. He didn’t report the shooting. “What’s the point of filling out a 61 [a crime report] if no one is hurt?” asks an East Harlem sergeant.
The illegal-alien population is another source of unreported crime. In a typical case from February, a Brooklyn transit officer nabbed a career criminal who had robbed an illegal Mexican on the subway. “It was a beautiful piece of police work which undoubtedly prevented future robberies,” says the officer’s supervisor. But the robber is now in jail only because he had already violated an outstanding parole warrant. On the robbery assault, he escaped prosecution, because the Mexican victim had given the arresting officer phony contact information, and the district attorney, unable to track the victim down, declined to draw up a criminal complaint for the robbery. “It’s just lucky for me that this perp violated his parole,” says the transit supervisor. “Otherwise he would be out there tonight on the subway, punching people in the face and demanding money.”
As for the allegation, made by some Giuliani supporters, that arresting officers undercharge crimes, opinion in the field divides. “If cops make an arrest on a complaint, they have a tendency to overcharge,” in order to get the perp the highest possible sentence, a subway captain insists. By contrast, a Harlem undercover says that downgrading incidents is a “constant thing”—partly to diminish Compstat heat on favored lieutenants. “If you have a choice between a felony assault and a misdemeanor, you make it a misdemeanor.”
No one I spoke to, however, alleges that commanding officers pressure their troops to manipulate the numbers. To the contrary, the NYPD’s crime-reporting audits—at least twice a year in every division of the department—are rigorous and unforgiving. Each reclassification of a crime must receive official approval, and the precinct member who signed off on the reclassification will have to justify his decision. A Queens captain had to retire immediately, losing over $100,000 in accrued overtime benefits, for improperly fiddling with the statistics.
Nor does anyone allege that downgrading or non-reporting of crime incidents has gone up in recent years. This discretionary behavior is a constant feature of the choices that officers make in exercising their authority. It went on before New York’s crime drop and undoubtedly continues today—but the crime drop is no less real because of it.
Opinion on the street varies on whether more New Yorkers are carrying guns. An undercover sergeant in East Harlem says he’s “definitely not seeing more guns. Criminals are getting smarter; they are not carrying.” But 17-year-old Russell, a student at Harlem’s parochial Rice High School, claims that since 2003 “guns have rapidly gotten into the hands of 16- to 17-year-olds like a plague. If you have enemies, you will get a gun immediately.” Buying a gun was once hard, he claims. “Now it’s quick and easy”—he could get one from friends for just $250 to $400, he says. The Bronx is the hotbed of gun possession, this 11th-grader asserts. Like everything in New York’s underclass culture, “it’s already happened in the Bronx when it comes to Harlem.”
Yet if teens are carrying guns more often, they’re not yet more prone to shoot, Russell observes. “A lot of teens are petrified to use them. They point it to scare people away. And they worry all the time about the police.” Russell and his friends believe that if the cops catch you with a gun used in previous crimes, you’ll face charges for all those crimes, even if you didn’t commit them—a useful fiction.
Though shootings have stabilized, murder and rapes in 2006 have been bouncing around above their 2005 numbers—up 9.1 percent as of June 18 for murders and 4.8 percent for rapes, even as overall crime fell another 5.1 percent. But it’s premature to sound an alarm. Homicides rose in three of the seven years between 1998 and 2005, yet by 2005, they were 14 percent below the 1998 level. Over the long run, the NYPD has managed to squelch incipient crime increases through its laser-beam management. As yet, there’s no reason to believe that the current uptick is any different.
By now, the department has a powerful partner in its crime-fighting efforts: a revitalized city. Talk to residents of former high-crime neighborhoods and you hear a multipronged explanation for the crime drop: policing gets the criminals out, development keeps them out, and the upgraded neighborhood reinforces the new order. The housing and commercial boom in areas once synonymous with violence is of a magnitude that no one, even up through the late 1990s, could have predicted. In the 1970s, hundreds of people would line up at the corners of a ten-block stretch of Eighth Avenue in Harlem and sell drugs. Today, the dealers are gone, and in their place are housing renovations and new construction worth millions of dollars. The city’s high-end realtors have set up shop on 116th Street, among cafés and Parisian bakeries. Corporate America wants a piece of the action, planting chain stores in former domestic war zones as fast as it can find space.
Billy Proctor has seen the change on his block. A middle-aged shoe salesman in a camel-hair coat and an “NYC” cap, he greets a rookie officer patrolling 123rd Street as part of a Central Harlem Impact Zone. As recently as last December, squatters occupied a graceful limestone apartment building on the street; Proctor heard the thud from his apartment next door when one of them was thrown off the rooftop in a dispute. Today, a busy gut renovation of the formerly colonized building is in progress. “This street has a long history of drugs,” Proctor says. “A couple of years ago, a guy came back from prison and declared: ‘I’m going to run this neighborhood.’ He was selling crack and cocaine. His rivals killed him right on the block.” Today, though, the block is peaceful, through a combination of ongoing police patrol and population turnover. “They [the dealers] have got the message; those guys had enough smarts to get out.” Some former residents, too, have moved—to wherever they can find subsidized rents, he says.
The new, better-off residents bring a different expectation about public safety. Yasmin Cornelius, head of Community Board 10 in Harlem, gets calls about drug dealing “every five minutes” from people who just moved into Harlem. “Maybe they thought it was no longer an issue,” she says, somewhat contemptuously. These newcomers will put renewed pressure on the police to end the problem and be less likely to be caught up in the drug trade themselves. “When people move in, they fight back,” explains Nadine Whitted, director of Community Board 4 in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood.
Columbia University criminologist Jeffrey Fagan believes that population change has helped drive New York’s post-2000 crime drop. “Policing can only do so much. You have to look at the political economy,” he suggests. “If housing becomes more expensive, poor people move out, and the people who replace them will not be the same,” he says. “They will have or make more money. As people become stakeholders, their behavior changes. They are more inclined to engage in social control, such as being out on the street, helping the police, and engaging in regular public life.”
These observations—from inner-city residents and academics alike—tread taboo ground. They suggest that one of the most effective ways of reducing crime is to replace the urban underclass—only a small percentage of whom actively engage in criminal activity—with wealthier, more socially engaged residents. Fagan quickly distances himself from the implications of what he is saying: “I’m not arguing for gentrification as a solution to crime,” he objects. But commanders who have witnessed New York’s liberation from crime offer support for the theory. Neighborhoods with high concentrations of housing projects always have greater crime problems than the rest of the city, they say, because the local criminal population entrenches itself so deeply there.
But while population turnover may contribute to the ongoing crime decline, a renewed commitment to public safety by longtime residents also plays its role. Harlem’s 28th Precinct Community Council meeting in February exemplified the virtuous cycle that successful policing sets off: a neighborhood starts to come back, leading its newly hopeful occupants to demand even tougher policing. At the meeting, an older woman politely requested better quality-of-life enforcement around her home. Her building had gone co-op, and the owners were moving back in after renovation. “We’d appreciate your helping us to make sure people are not loitering. There is a concrete curb outside the building. We noticed people sitting there. It should not be.” Alerted to a potential problem, the police will now intervene before it gets out of hand.
Left-wing academics deny that law-abiding inner-city residents desire an orderly environment as fiercely as the wealthy. Enforcing loitering ordinances or open-container rules in minority neighborhoods, they charge, is simply a racist attack on the oppressed. Many such academics have obviously spoken to very few poor people, so as not to disrupt their fantasy of a revolutionary vanguard ready to attack bourgeois conventions. Andrew Karmen of John Jay College of Criminal Justice sees crime “as a distorted form of social protest.” Inner-city residents beg to differ. Asked what activities bother her constituents most, Nadine Whitted of the Bushwick Community Board bluntly replies: “Drugs still being sold, youth crime, people hanging out, loud music.”
Community redevelopment alone cannot keep crime down, however; assertive policing remains essential. Like New York, Boston in the 1990s saw renewal in neighborhoods that previously no one would touch (albeit at nowhere near the gale force of New York’s gentrification). Crime has shot back up in spite of that new investment, because the Boston police lost their focus, according to David Kennedy, a crime researcher at John Jay College and an advisor to the Boston Police Department during the 1990s “Boston Miracle.” “The NYPD never backed off from its fundamental response. Boston did,” he says.
The conclusion is unavoidable: policing is the most powerful tool that society possesses against crime. Since the 1960s, New York has spent billions on redistributionist social programs designed to eradicate both poverty and the dysfunctional behavior of the underclass. Yet by the 1990s, packs of feral youths roamed subways and parks, maiming and murdering. Thugs armed with military weaponry ruled whole neighborhoods. Today, thanks to the NYPD, those neighborhoods thrive with commerce and family life. Urban government does not possess the power to transform character or to uplift residents beyond what they’re willing to do for themselves, but it can provide the most important basis of civil society: security. And in so doing, New York policing has helped the poor more than decades of welfare programs ever did.
"Hey Ev, your way of "liberal compassion" was tried for decades in New York."
Sorry, daruma, but you still don't know how my liberal compassion works. You consistently misrepresent it, indicating you don't know what my position actually is.
"Compassion for the less fortunate should not be carte blanche acceptance to whatever degradations they plague society with."
Nor should fixing the problems associated with having less fortunate involve criminalizing being less fortunate. I can't believe that a self-proclaimed libertarian endorses that sort of fix to a problem.
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For years and years, people cried "Won't someone help the homeless get off the street and into shelters."
Then someone actually does it, and gets criticized for it. Astonishing.
With regard to the burglaries, don't you think it might be a good thing to recover the manpower that was being burned up dispatching police to take a statement from people who are not sufficiently concerned to go to the precinct to make a complaint?
While it might skew some statistics, it makes good sense to me as a policy.
Posts: 7604 | Registered: Oct 2004
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"For years and years, people cried "Won't someone help the homeless get off the street and into shelters."
Then someone actually does it, and gets criticized for it. Astonishing."
"With regard to the burglaries, don't you think it might be a good thing to recover the manpower that was being burned up dispatching police to take a statement from people who are not sufficiently concerned to go to the precinct to make a complaint?
While it might skew some statistics, it makes good sense to me as a policy."
Agreed. But taking credit for lowering crime due to this change would be dishonest.
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My understanding is that before becoming mayor of NY, Giuliani had possibly done more to shut down organized crime than any American in history. Is this true?
Posts: 42013 | Registered: Jun 2001
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As a resident of NYC I'd like to shed a little light on this.
First off, NYC is a much, much safer and cleaner city than it was in the early 1990's. The improvement in law-enforcement tactics is definitely a major part of this, but we should be careful to understand why. Specifically, the the restored perception that the city is safe has lead to a boom in gentrification - many neighborhoods which were, 15 years ago, little more than empty, post-apocalyptic husks inhabited by dealers and squatters are now home to million-dollar condos the size of bread-boxes.
There has been a radical change in demographics, and this is the primary reason for the difference in crime stats. The police make the neighborhoods a bit safer, and the perception of safety leads to safer neighborhoods full of rich people. It is perception and reality, working in a mutually supportive chain reaction.
This certainly reduces crime, but it also leaves the city virtually uninhabitable for a stable lower-middle class. This is having a profound effect on city culture, since artists and actors and musicians - people who must live on marginal incomes, find it more and more difficult to survive here. Most of my Brooklyn neighbors are twenty-somethings with wealthy parents who pay their rent for them well into adulthood (which I find appalling). So there is a real risk that you save the city by squelching its soul.
While I may have issues with the NYPD in specific areas, I support the more cops/better policing tactic in principle. But any attempt to look at what preceeded Guiliani as "liberal compassion" is preposterous. Throughout the 60's, 70's and 80's, NYC reflected nationwide discord. There were grave abuses by the police, widespread racism, and the seemingly deliberate ghettoization of the African-American population. Nobody considered the pj's "compassionate." NYC in this era was a cruel, often merciless place. (I recommend Harlan Ellison's "Web of the City" and "Memos from Purgatory", and James Baldwin's non-fiction in general if you want a really clear picture of just how bad it was).
The one thing that kept NYC from going to pieces in this era was the social spending. In the 1950's, NYC boasted one of the country's best public university systems - it remains an excellent place to get an education (though unappreciated by those on the outside). The problems of the past have to do with government corruption, racial strife, etc.
Guliani is great in a press conference. He has some strengths, but his approach is at times too thuggish, and he is a shameless exploiter of 9/11. I don't see him winning against McCain in the Republican primary at any rate.
Posts: 1960 | Registered: Aug 2006
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quote:Originally posted by KidB: Guliani is great in a press conference. He has some strengths, but his approach is at times too thuggish, and he is a shameless exploiter of 9/11. I don't see him winning against McCain in the Republican primary at any rate.
Seems like a pretty good summary to me.
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Rudy's views on abortion and homosexuality will not get him anywhere in 08. They might work in the Northeast, but good luck getting through any red state.
If I oppose Rudy in anything, it has to be the breed he comes from; Republicans who want to be democrats or vise versa. While it's good to see change, one has to see that change only works in small steps. In the case of presidential elections, change of any type is very hard to press forward. The candidate has to have many other big strengths or the result will be failure.
Unless Rudy teams up with Tim Hardway soon, I don't see him beating McCain anytime soon.
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I'd still like to hear more about the claim that Rudy is a shameless exploiter of 9/11. Just the fact that he mentions it? Or is there more to this?
Posts: 7604 | Registered: Oct 2004
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quote:Originally posted by moodi: Rudy's views on abortion and homosexuality will not get him anywhere in 08. They might work in the Northeast, but good luck getting through any red state.
Maybe Red Staters aren't quite as dumb as some folks would like to believe. Maybe it's not about what people believe, but what they will deliver. Obama and McCain can talk about their beliefs until they are blue in the face; the question is, what will they do? What are they pledging to deliver? With other candidates, it might also be about whether they keep their promises, but I'm unaware of any suggestion that these guys fail to deliver on anything other than Marital vows, and on that account, IIRC Obama's clean.
Posts: 42013 | Registered: Jun 2001
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