The New York City Police Department issued a press release last week announcing a 0.4% reduction in “index” crimes (murder, rape, robbery, burglary, felony assault, grand larceny, and car theft) for the year to date 2023 vs the same period in 2022.
That is good news as far as it goes IF you are satisfied with the 47.5% INCREASE in these same index crimes since the same period in 2019, the last year before criminal-justice reform.
It was only a matter of time before the mayor realized that he could show progress in the fight against crime by using just the last year as a base figure.
You see, in almost every single year from 1993 to 2019, overall crime in New York City declined.
In fact, crime in the city was going down from 2015-2019 even as crime in Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, and most other major American cities were going up.
Then, in 2019, the New York State Legislature passed bail reform and other progressive criminal-justice reforms, almost all of which became effective on Jan. 1, 2020.
As a result of these new laws, between November 2019 and January. 1, 2020, more than 2000 career criminals were released from city jails.
By March 15, 2020, before any COVID restrictions, crime in the city had risen 20% over the same period in 2019, reversing a straight period of 27 years of crime reductions.
Now the city wants to show “progress” in the fight against crime by using the elevated crime levels of 2022 as a baseline, rather than the much lower crime levels before the 2019 “reforms.”
But that is really just defining a new normal.
The NYPD’s own statistics for the first six weeks of 2023, (the latest Compstat numbers available), compared to the first six weeks in 2019 (before “reform”), show the following (below):
I have a great deal of respect for NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell and I still think that Mayor Adams is well-positioned to lead the fight to restore sanity to our criminal-justice system.
In fact, I voted for him. I also understand that they are both under enormous pressure to produce results.
But a 0.4% reduction in crime for one month can hardly be considered a success when that still leaves major crime up 47.5% over 2019.
The worst part about this 0.4% reduction statistic is that it gives progressive “reform” advocates and legislators another misleading talking point about how the fear of crime is irrational.
After all, they’ll say, crime is now going down.
The grim reality is that progressive legislators have decided that the increased crime on our streets is an acceptable cost of their criminal justice reforms.
But they cannot and will not admit that in public.
Instead, they deny that the crime increases that coincided with reform are the result of reform, and they demand ever more data, denying that the tens of thousands of additional (mostly black and brown)victims every year since reform prove anything.
The Commissioner and the Mayor would do well to keep comparing today’s crime numbers with the pre-reform 2019 numbers, rather than seeking quick and favorable, but misleading, press headlines.
Otherwise, they will lose not just the debate, but also any realistic chance of undoing the damage done by these reforms.
Jim Quinn was executive district attorney in the Queens DA office.
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