Crime in New York City
|New York City|
|Crime rates (2013)|
|Total Violent crime:||639.3|
|Motor vehicle theft:||98.8|
|Total Property crime:||1,722.2|
* Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.
* New York City did not report arson statistics
|Source: FBI 2013 UCR data|
Violent crime in New York City has been dropping since 1990. In 2013, there were 333 homicides, the lowest number since at least 1963 when reliable statistics were first kept. Crime rates spiked in the 1980s and early 1990s as the crack epidemic hit the city.
During the 1990s the New York City Police Department (NYPD) adopted CompStat, broken windows policing and other strategies in a major effort to reduce crime. The city's dramatic drop in crime has been attributed by criminologists to policing tactics, the end of the crack epidemic, and some have speculated more controversial ideas such as the legalization of abortion approximately 18 years previous and the decline of lead poisoning of children. Most of the crime remaining occurs in poor areas, which tend to be outlying.
In 1835, the New York Herald was established by James Gordon Bennett, Sr., who helped revolutionize journalism by covering stories that appeal to the masses including crime reporting. When Helen Jewett was murdered on April 10, 1836, Bennett did innovative on-the-scene investigation and reporting and helped bring the story to national attention.
The murder of Mary Rogers in 1841 was also heavily covered by the press, which also put the spotlight on the ineptitude and corruption in the city's watchmen system of law enforcement. At the time, New York City's population of 320,000 was served by an archaic force, consisting of one night watch, one hundred city marshals, thirty-one constables, fifty-one police officers.
Peter Cooper, at request of the Common Council, drew up a proposal to create a police force of 1,200 officers. The state legislature approved the proposal which authorized creation of a police force on May 7, 1844, along with abolition of the nightwatch system. Under Mayor William Havemeyer, the police force was reorganized and officially established on May 13, 1845 as the New York City Police Department (NYPD), with the city divided into three districts, with courts, magistrates, and clerks, and station houses set up.
In July 1863, the New York State Militias were absent to aid Union troops, when the 1863 Draft Riots broke out, leaving the police to crush the riots. In 1870, the Orange Riots were incited by Irish Protestants celebrating the Battle of the Boyne with parades through predominantly Irish catholic neighborhoods. 63 citizens, mostly Irish, were massacred in the resulting police-action. The Tompkins Square Riot occurred on January 13, 1874 when police violently suppressed a demonstration involving thousands of people in Tompkins Square Park.
In the 20th century, notorious New York-based mobsters Arnold Rothstein, Meyer Lansky, and Lucky Luciano made headlines. The century's later decades are more famous for Mafia prosecutions (and prosecutors like Rudolph Giuliani) than for the influence of the Five Families.
Violent gangs such as the Black Spades and the Westies influenced crime in the 1970s. The Bloods, Crips and MS-13 gangs of Los Angeles arrived in the city in the 1980s, but gained notoriety when they appeared on Rikers Island in 1993 to fight off the already established Latin Kings gang.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (October 2012)|
Crime in New York City was high in the 1980s during the Mayor Edward I. Koch years, as the crack epidemic hit New York City, and peaked in 1990, the first year of Mayor David Dinkins' administration (1990–1994). During the administration of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (1994–2002), there was a precipitous drop in crime in his first term, continuing at a slower rate in both his second term and under Mayor Michael Bloomberg (2002–2014).
Many commentators have suggested that the New York City Police Department's adoption of CompStat, broken windows policing, and other strategies during the administration of Rudolph Giuliani were responsible for the drop in crime, some studies argued that the dramatic reduction in crime was strongly correlated with the increases in the number of police officers that started under Mayor Dinkins and continued through the Giuliani administration.
Freakonomics authors Steven Levitt and Steven Dubner attribute the drop in crime to the legalization of abortion in the 1970s, as they suggest that many would-be neglected children and criminals were never born. On the other hand Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point provides a different explanation - he argues that crime was an "epidemic" and a small reduction by the police was enough to "tip" the balance.
Starting in 2005, New York City achieved the lowest crime rate among the ten largest cities in the United States. Since 1991, the city has seen a continuous fifteen-year trend of decreasing crime. Neighborhoods that were once considered dangerous are now much safer. Violent crime in the city has dropped by three quarters in the twelve years ending in 2005 with the murder rate at its lowest then level since 1963 with 539 murders that year, for a murder rate of 6.58 per 100,000 people, compared to 2,245 murders in 1990. The murder rate continued to drop each year since then. In 2012, there were 414 murders, mainly occurring in the outlying, low income areas of NYC. Among the 182 U.S. cities with populations of more than 100,000, New York City ranked 136th in overall crime.
In 2006, as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control efforts, the city approved new legislation regulating handgun possession and sales. The new laws established a gun offender registry, required city gun dealers to inspect their inventories and file reports to the police twice a year, and limited individual handgun purchases to once every 90 days. The regulations also banned the use and sale of kits used to paint guns in bright or fluorescent colors, on the grounds that such kits could be used to disguise real guns as toys.
In July 2007, the city planned to install an extensive web of cameras and roadblocks designed to detect, track and deter terrorists called Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, which is similar to the City of London's "ring of steel".
In 2007 New York City had 494 reported homicides, down from 596 homicides in 2006, and the first year since 1963 (when crime statistics were starting to be published) that this total was fewer than 500. Although homicides rose (to 523) in 2008, they fell again in 2009 to 466, an almost fifty-year low. Homicides continued to decline, with the city reporting 414 in 2012 and only 333 in 2013.
In 2010 the New York Post reported that NYPD supervisors were under increased pressure to "fudge" crime stats by downgrading major crimes to minor offenses. However, the same researchers that provided the evidence "acknowledged that major crimes were at a historic low."
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- Gordon, Michael Allen (1993). The Orange Riots: Irish Political Violence in New York City, 1870-1871. Cornell University Press. p. 203.
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- "New York plans surveillance veil for downtown"
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- New York Police Department CompStat report for week ending June 14, 2009. Retrieved June 21, 2009
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- Kelly, Raymond W. (Police Commissioner) "Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City (Jan, 1 – December 31, 2012)." (Archive) New York Police Department.
- Precinct Crime Statistics page - NYPD
- Statewide Anti-Fugitive Teams
- New York Law Enforcement Agency Uniform Crime Reports 1980 to 2005
- New York City Police Dept Uniform Crime Reports 1980 to 2005
- Fewer Killings in 2007, but Still Felt in City’s Streets