"New York City Crime Falls But Just Why Is a Mystery"

“New York City Crime Falls But Just Why Is a Mystery” discusses the extent to which the New York City Police Department, with its focus on quality-of-life infractions under Mayor Giuliani, is responsible for the dramatic drop in New York City’s crime statistics in 1994. The article also interrogates if these numbers reflect a meaningful shift in the public’s perception of its own safety.

Clifford Krauss’s article “New York City Crime Falls But Just Why Is a Mystery” in the January 1, 1995 issue of The New York Times probes the possible causes for the significant drop in New York City’s crime figures in 1994 (and more gradual decrease since 1990). This “phenomenon” largely defies any single explanation by criminologists, especially since many of the country’s largest cities and other parts of New York saw a similar trend, making it difficult to anticipate how long these purported gains will last. While explaining competing theories regarding the statistics, including whether and to what extent the policies instituted by Mayor Giuliani and Commissioner Bratton had an effect, Krauss states that unreported crime is a serious problem, which speaks to an increase in gang activity/intimidation and a lack of confidence in the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and judicial system, that both explains these figures and indicates a more serious issue with police-community relations. Therefore, any substantive progress against crime gleaned from statistics can only be verified by a corresponding decrease in firsthand accounts of fear. For Krauss, that there are mixed signals on this front makes Bratton’s conflation of the perception of vulnerability to crime with crime statistics quite concerning, particularly when he acknowledges that fear is beyond the NYPD’s control. The mayor even admits, in spite of his aggressive campaign against crime, that he cannot explain the falling figures.

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Buell Center (aes2344)