There is little doubt that serious crime in the Big Apple is worse this year than in the past. The numbers of homicides, violent crimes and acts of vandalism are all up.
The city’s homicide rate has spiked at a startling 19.5 percent higher than during the same period last year. According to the NYPD, 135 homicides were committed during the first five months of 2015, or almost a murder a day.
And it’s not only the murder rate that’s been climbing. The subways have also witnessed an uptick in vandalism, with bands of marauding teenage gangs damaging stations and equipment. These vandals are not your 1970s graffiti vandals, but organized groups of teens who are responsible for explosions in stations in Brooklyn and the Bronx. As if struggling to run on an antiquated rail system, with an increased ridership, is not difficult enough, now the subways are being deliberately sabotaged.
City parks have also not been immune. Central Park — once a prime location for muggers, then wrested back from the criminals and cleaned up during the last two decades — has shown signs of regressing to its former state: 843 acres of green space, fear and mayhem. Robberies in the park are up a staggering 125 percent; overall, crime has increased 64 percent. A number of assaults have been brazenly carried out in broad daylight. Committing crimes in the city’s largest recreation area has become a walk in the park for muggers.
Why is crime, thought by many New Yorkers to be a relic of the past, once again rearing its ugly head?
It is reasonable to assume that the public’s lower level of confidence in how the NYPD performs the immensely difficult job it is tasked to do plays a large role in emboldening criminals and making NYPD officers more tentative in stopping crime. This lack of public trust in the police force promotes confidence on the part of would-be criminals that they will not be stopped or questioned if they break the law. And there is reason to believe that New York’s cops have become afraid to stop suspects — afraid to use force, afraid to do their job.
This is not due to apprehension on the part of officers that they are breaking the law and will be indicted. Rather, it is motivated by their dread of being raked over the coals by the media and those who make a living by crying racism or police brutality every time an arrest is questionable or goes bad. The few arrests that have tragic outcomes are splashed across the headlines and, if videotaped, go viral. Everyone immediately become an instant juror, ready to condemn and convict New York’s Finest based on a few minutes of video, without understanding the context of the confrontation. It is very different to safely view an arrest on a smart phone or other screen than to attempt to subdue a suspect who can easily inflict grievous injury. While the officers in the Garner case were instantaneously roundly condemned, a grand jury that heard reams of testimony during a period of several weeks declined to indict the officers. Unfortunately, trial-by-internet-and-media has damaged the reputation of those officers beyond repair.
Much of the liberal media has made stop-and-frisk — a cornerstone of the NYPD’s strategy for more than the last decade — into a racial issue. In fact, however, it was a policy that saved thousands of minority lives. Hundreds of guns and weapons were confiscated when the policy was in full force and shootings in the city nosedived. In 2011, the NYPD performed more than 690,000 checks on individuals they thought were acting suspiciously. Last year, the number of stop-and-frisks fell more than 90 percent to only 47,000. This year, according to projection, the number of stops will be under 30,000.
The real enemy of minority communities is not the cops, but the gang members and thugs who now feel free to carry handguns and to use them, even if it means that innocent bystanders are getting mowed down.
Restoring confidence in the NYPD, confidence it largely deserves, must be a priority for the media and New York’s politicians if New York is to not repeat the ignominy of its crime-ridden past. While it is imperative that the police make every effort to establish close ties with the local communities and do their part in helping mend fences, aggressive policing within the confines of the law has to be restored. It’s the criminals who should be afraid to do their work, not the NYPD.