Monday, April 26, 2010

Getting Away with Murder in NYC

With murders in NYC on the risen and stop-and-frisks at record levels, the percentage of murders being solved by the NYPD is on the decline.

Murders on the Rise

Every murder is an enormous tragedy, and the loss of life typically has a tragic effect on the lives of those left behind. The emotional and psychological toll of having a loved one's life taken away by a murderer is incalculable. Such an experience can be debilitating. Apart from the personal impact of each murder, each of those personal stories also represents lost productivity in the workforce for weeks and months after the tragedy. It even causes loved ones of those murdered to consider leaving New York City, and the resulting relocations drain economic activity from our city, reduce our tax base, and create lower population figures that lead to reduced federal and state financial support for our city.

Therefore, while no level of murder activity is acceptable, the declining murder rates that were initiated under Mayor Dinkins through his Safe Street / Safe City program and continued under his successors have been extremely welcome.

With the struggling economy and increased economic stress in our city, the numbers have started to move in the wrong direction. The number of murders in NYC at this point in 2010 is more than 20% higher than the number in 2009. The most recent figures show that murders have risen by 27%. That rise may sound more daunting than it should. A 27% rise is enormous, but the number of murders experienced in New York City in 2010 are still amongst the lowest ever recorded at this point in any given year. Nonetheless, more murders are an unacceptable trend. Left unaddressed, we might find ourselves returning to the days before the Safe Street / Safe City program.

Record Breaking Stop and Frisk Activity

We have discussed repeatedly the disgusting Bloomberg "achievement" of having in 2009 the largest number of stop-and-frisk incidents ever in our city. Approximately 90% of those stopped in the stop-and-frisk activity of 2009 were Black and Hispanic, and 90% of those stopped were found to have no illegal drugs, fire arms, or any reason for being stopped other than their skin color or ethnicity. This is also an incalculable tragedy.

Bloomberg was re-elected in 2009 despite the stop-and-frisk record and his horrifyingly unsuccessful stewardship of the New York City economy. But, we may be paying the price now. The Mayor's devotion to stopping innocent people in Black neighborhoods without cause may be interfering with preventing crime and solving crimes.

Declining Clearance Rates

The Clearance Rate is the percentage of crimes in a category that are "solved" and lead to an arrest. Clearance Rates in New York City were far lower in 2009 than in 2008 (59% in 2009 versus 67% in 2008) and far lower than the national average of 64%.

Murderers are literally getting away with murder more often. Instead of 33% of murders going unsolved (2008), we now have 41% of murders going unsolved.

The resources that the Mayor is devoting to terrorizing and harassing communities of color would be more valuable if they were invested in crime prevention and crime solving. There may be no more important step he can take in his third term.

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