Between 1992 and 2012, the violent crime rate of robbery, rape and homicide in the United States dropped by 48 percent. During the same time period, the crime rate of New York city dropped by 71 percent. The violent crime rate in NY accounted for nearly 9 percent of all the violent crimes reported in the US in 1993 and it is slightly more than 3 percent of all the violent crimes.
The decrease in the crime rate of New York became the signature accomplishment of Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who tied all the hard work and his efforts to an aggressive street level strategy which is known as stop and frisk, along with some specific attention paid to ridding the city of illegal guns, the latter making him the national poster boy for gun control efforts after the massacre at Sandy Hook. The crime fighting efforts in Bloomberg were also developed by the computerization of patrols and surveillance known as Compstat which was introduced first by Rudy Giuliani, who was the police commissioner.
He said that he was in the process of writing this book which was about the crimes of New York City that will cover the last twenty five years and will be based, in part, on the precinct level crime data which covers the entire period much munificently supplied to me by different scholars who have published in the field. The chart shows the crime rate based on the year 2000.
For Mayor Bloomberg, this comparison creates a bit of a problem about crime fighting image, never mind his legacy, while the violent crime fell dramatically over the twenty four years captured by the data which was the most serious decrease which occurred in the period prior to 2002, in other words, before he was arrived at the city Hall. The second decline takes place during his first two terms whereas the crime rate actually increased in the last term.
Since 2008, serious increase in violent crimes has been masked by two factors:
A very serious decline in homicides, which have now dropped to an annual rate not seen since the end of the Korean War
A possible over count in the city’s estimated population in the years leading up to 2010 census
The crime data of the city or even the data which is aggregated at the level of district can’t really explain how crime affects the average city residents because each neighborhood is almost a city within itself and every citizen has different profiles. In Brooklyn there was only one homicide in 2013 which works out to an annual murder rate of less than two. Walk one mile east into Fort Greene and the murder rate per last years was 100,000.
Criminologists have been considering the reasons why violent crimes continue to decrease both nationally within NY, but nobody comes up with a definite answer as of yet. A very good book has been published by the scholar Frank Zimring, which is entitled as The City that Became Safe, but his data only goes through 2007 and while he argues that the city became safer because of stop and frisk, the NYPD continued that strategy through at least 2011 and the crime rates went back up.
Violent crime is various behavioral phenomenon whose causes lie very deep with the social fabric of the society and it is not surely understood why high crime communities occur. The good thing about this is that Compstat may not be able to cancel out the crime; it can only tell us where and when the crime occurs. All we can and have to do is to figure out the why.