I started to write a column about crime statistics. They continue to be stubbornly bad, in spite of some ideologues bizarrely celebrating a decline in homicides and shootings “this year,” as they look at snapshots of crime week to week or month to month. The bottom line is that crime in New York City in 2022 was 31% higher than in 2019, before criminal-justice reforms, with almost 55,000 more victims in 2022 than in 2019, including 30,000 felony victims.
As The Post reported, crime in NYC is the highest it has been in 15 years.
But our lives are not lived in statistics. It’s about the disorder we feel around us.
My wife and daughter went into Manhattan last week for dinner and a show. They took the subway and walked along Eighth Avenue from 42nd Street to the restaurant on 46th Street. They arrived at the restaurant at 5:15 p.m. They were inside the restaurant when, just two blocks away on 44th Street and Eighth Avenue, a man was shot and killed. (Murder up 33% since 2019.) They missed being in the middle of it by minutes.
About two weeks earlier, my wife and her cousin went into Manhattan to have dinner at a restaurant on the Upper East Side, on 62nd Street. When they got to the restaurant, the front door was inaccessible because someone had tried to burglarize the restaurant earlier that day, so they had to use a side entrance. (NYC burglaries up 45% since 2019.)
Later we found out that our nephew had been robbed that same night outside Penn Station on his way home from work. He reported it to the police but nobody was arrested. (NYC robberies up 29% since 2019.)
This past autumn, my wife and I were walking along Lexington Avenue and 62nd Street when we saw a man taking flower bouquets from a convenience store on the corner. He took three of them out of the water containers and calmly started walking down Lexington Avenue without paying. The store owner came out and ran up to him and recovered the flowers, and the “alleged” thief calmly continued walking down the street. I thought to myself, “Another unreported crime.” (Reported NYC petit larcenies up 28% since 2019).
In December I mailed a check in the mailbox a block from my house in Queens, in front of a church, no less. A few weeks later I found that someone had gotten the check, changed the payee, raised the amount to $2,000 and cashed it. My wife and I went to our bank, reported it, closed the account and opened a new account. The bank employees told us it was a common occurrence. I then went to the 102nd Police Precinct and reported the theft. The police told us it’s happening a lot. (Grand larcenies up 18% since 2019.)
We spent the better part of a day between the bank and the precinct. We had to change all of our automatic payments, direct deposits and Bill Pay to our new account. Just more annoyance in addition to the anger at the notion of someone thinking they had the right to steal money from a stranger. As an added, infuriating insult, on the forged check memo line they wrote “Happy Holidays.”
Now we’ve changed our habits. No longer will we use that mailbox or any mailbox, even though this one was fitted with the anti check-fishing device. Now I drive the half mile to the post office to mail even the simplest mail, a constant reminder of the theft. We’re careful where we stand on the subway platform. I pick my wife up when she is traveling late. We’re much more careful when we walk city streets, especially at night.
These are “minor” lifestyle changes for us. But what about the hundreds of additional people who have been murdered since the 2019 “criminal justice reforms”? Or the thousands shot and wounded and scarred — physically and emotionally — for life? What of the tens of thousands of people who had cars stolen, the privacy of their homes invaded, or were randomly assaulted on the street by strangers? Or their families and loved ones? Aren’t they victims too?
To listen to our progressive legislators, you’d think everything was hunky dory. “We’re solving mass incarceration!” they cried, as they released 2,000 career criminals from city jails in 2019. “We’re building a kinder, gentler criminal justice system!” they boasted, as 70-80% of misdemeanors get dismissed after discovery reform.
Meanwhile they have brought mass victimization to NYC on a scale we have not seen in a decade and a half, with 55,000 more (mostly minority) victims this year than before the 2019 reforms, and they have created an utterly dysfunctional criminal justice system. Congratulations.
Jim Quinn was executive district attorney in the Queens DA office, where he served for 42 years.
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