Underground knife attacks, mass shootings, including in Times Square: after long boasting of being one of the safest metropolises in the world, New York is facing rising crime, which has become a central theme of the campaign for municipalities.
After the 1970s and 1980s, when crime raged in the largest U.S. metropolis affected by the budget crisis, crime began to decline in the mid-1990s.
But the picture has been deteriorating since the summer of 2020, and what initially seemed to be a temporary consequence of the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the movement against police violence since the death of George Floyd no longer seems like a side effect.
– Violence is obviously increasing and there is a risk that the increase in 2020 will continue in 2021. There is huge economic uncertainty, huge stress. It contributes to violence, which tends to reproduce, said Ford Pafem University law professor of crime.
Although New York is gradually emerging from the health crisis and unemployment is declining, the statistics are not improving. The latest statistics, as of May 9, show 505 shooting deaths since the beginning of January, compared to 275 in the same period in 2020, which is the highest level in the last 10 years. In the same period, 146 murders were registered, which is an increase of 27 percent compared to 2020 and 40 percent compared to 2019.
According to official data, crime in the subway fell by 43 percent. However, many people think this is wrong because passenger traffic is reduced due to the pandemic.
On May 8, in broad daylight, in which two women and a little girl were injured in Times Square, he sent the topic directly to the center of the local election campaign, six weeks before the Democratic primary, threatening June 22. The winner of the November local elections is expected to be chosen in these primary elections, given how unpopular the Republicans are in New York.
Leading candidates are former presidential candidate Andrew Young, Brooklyn County President and former police officer Eric Adams, and former Wall Street banker Raymond McGuire.
In this still quite open race, the candidates for this most popular place for tourism in the state of New York are lined up and promise decisive actions to improve safety, if they are selected.
New York’s Transportation Service chief Pat Foy stepped up the pressure on Friday, calling for the immediate dispatch of hundreds of police officers to subway stations, where their presence has already increased in recent weeks.
He even called the current mayor, the left-wing Democrat Bill de Blasio, “irresponsible”, accusing him of neglecting the reality that passengers face.
In response to a question from local radio, De Blasio reiterated his mantra that crime would be reduced by reviving economic activity, which comes with the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.
He also accused Foy of instilling fear at the request of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor is a political opponent of the mayor and oversees transportation to New York and regularly accuses De Blasio of not committing a crime.
The fact is that the increase in violence is as indisputable as its use for political purposes.
Some people in the Republican camp, such as Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, even describe New York as a criminal haven, which is far from the reality on the ground. Others, especially in the Democratic camp, want to go to extremes.
– I do not hear anyone around me say ‘I do not feel safe’. A political attempt is being made to steer the discussion, said Susan King, a law professor at New York University.
“Although crime rates are rising, they still remain quite low for such a large city,” she added. In addition, crime has risen in most other US capitals in the past year.
The Anti-Police Violence Movement has prompted some Democrats to call for a budget cut for New York City’s 35,000-strong police force in favor of services for poor communities, and now Susan King regrets that the conversation has already focused on increasing the number of psoriasis, which is often ineffective.
“There is already a significant police presence in Times Square. “To what extent would more police officers improve the situation?” She asks.
“Regardless of the measures taken, the problem will not be solved quickly,” said Christopher Herman, another John Jay expert.
“The new mayor will find a lot of bad news on his desk,” he added. (AFP)