Opine on this my Liberal brethren.
I ask...what would you want if there was a sudden increase in crime by white, suit wearing men, in your neighborhood? And you were one of them. Would you support increased policing?
Crime in New York City has dropped 80% since the early 1990s, a decline
unmatched anywhere in the country. The change has yielded an explosion of
commerce in once forlorn neighborhoods, a boom in tourism, and a sharp rise in
property values. Nowhere were the effects more dramatic than in the city's
When the bullets stopped flying, entrepreneurs snapped up the vacant lots
that had served as breeding grounds of crime. Senior citizens were able to visit
friends without fear of getting mugged. Children could sleep in their own beds
rather than in bathtubs, no longer needing shelter from stray gunfire. Target,
Home Depot and other national chains moved into thoroughfares long ruled by drug
gangs, providing jobs for local workers and giving residents retail choices
taken for granted in middle-class neighborhoods.
Most significant, more than 10,000 black and Hispanic males avoided the
premature death that would have been their fate had New York's homicide rate
remained at its early-1990s apex. Blacks and Hispanics have made up 79% of the
decline in homicide victims since 1993.
New York's previously unimaginable status as America's safest big city is now
in jeopardy thanks to a rising campaign against its proactive style of policing.
In 1994 the New York Police Department, led then by Commissioner William
Bratton, embraced the revolutionary concept that the police could actually
prevent crime, not just respond to it after the fact.
The department began analyzing victim reports daily to target resources to
where crime patterns were emerging. Top brass held commanders accountable for
the safety of their precincts. And officers were expected to intervene when they
observed someone acting suspiciously—maybe asking the person a few questions,
perhaps frisking him if legally justified. In so doing, they sent the message in
violence-plagued areas that law and order was still in effect.
Such proactive stops (or "stop-and-frisks") have averted countless crimes.
But a chorus of critics, led by the New York Times, charges that the NYPD's
policy is racist because the majority of those stopped are black and Hispanic.
Every declared Democratic candidate for mayor in 2013 has vowed to eliminate
stop-and-frisks or significantly reduce them. A federal judge overseeing a
class-action lawsuit against the NYPD has already announced her conviction that
the department's stop practices are unconstitutional, the prelude to putting the
department under judicial control.
Omitted from these critics' complaints is any recognition of the demographics
of crime. Blacks were 62% of the city's murder victims in 2011, even though they
are only 23% of the population. They also made up a disproportionate share of
criminals, committing 80% of all shootings, nearly 70% of all robberies and 66%
of all violent crime, according to crime reports filed with the NYPD by victims
and witnesses, usually minorities themselves.
Whites, by contrast, committed a little over 1% of all shootings, less than
5% of all robberies, and 5% of all violent crime in 2011, even though they are
35% of New York City's population. Given where crime is happening, the police
cannot target their resources where they're needed without producing racially
disparate stops and arrests.
Critics also contend, among other charges, that the absolute number of
stops—680,000—is too high and demonstrates illegality. But there were nearly
900,000 arrests and summons last year under the far more exacting standard of
probable cause. It is not surprising that a police force of 35,000 witnessed
680,000 instances of reasonably suspicious behavior among New York's 8.5 million
residents. If 25,000 officers in enforcement commands made just one stop a week,
there would be over a million stops a year.
Violence continues to afflict minority communities. A rash of shootings
during outdoor basketball games this summer should remind New Yorkers of what is
at stake in the stop-and-frisk debate. The victims include a 4-year-old boy
killed last month in the Bronx when two thugs started shooting at each other
across a playground, and a 25-year-old member of the Harlem Youth Marines, an
anti-gang group, killed during a shootout in June.