Worried about crime? Just follow the numbers

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An NYPD patrol car.

An NYPD patrol car. Photo Credit: iStock

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Leonard Levitt Leonard Levitt

Leonard Levitt is the author of “NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country's Greatest Police Force."

Is crime up in the city? Does the 8 percent increase in shootings over the past six months presage a trend to more violence as suggested by headlines?

And what of stop-and-frisk, the policy of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and then-Police Commissioner Ray Kelly that a judge deemed unconstitutional? Is the drop in stops under Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton the reason for the shooting uptick?

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Some have pointed to a possible correlation between abandoning aggressive stop-and-frisk and an increase in gunfire.

"There's no crime problem," said Chris Dunn, associate legal director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has issued some statistics based on NYPD figures.

Let's take homicides:

In 2002, there were 587 homicides. Despite upticks, they declined to 515 in 2011 when stop-and-frisks reached a high of 685,724.

Between 2011 and 2013, homicides fell to 419 in 2012 and to 335 in 2013.

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Stop-and-frisks also fell, to 532,911 in 2012 and to 191,851 in 2013.

It sure doesn't look like a correlation between stop-and-frisks and homicides.

Let's turn to shootings:

Between 2002 and 2011, they ranged between 1,700 to 1,900 a year. There were 1,892 shootings in 2002, and 1,821 in 2011.

Between 2011 and 2013 -- the period during which homicides and stop-and-frisks declined sharply -- shootings dropped to 1,628 in 2012 and 1,301 in 2013.

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In 2011, there were 685,724 stops, 1,821 shootings and 515 homicides (slight declines). In 2013, when homicides fell to their lowest number of 335 and shootings to 1,301, stops also fell to their lowest level in 10 years, to 191,851 stops.

Yet the perception is what Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch called, "the escalating violence and disorder in this city." If crime is declining, why do some fear the city could return to the bad old days? At the heart of that fear is the perception that de Blasio -- who won election by exploiting stop-and-frisk -- is a social reformer, and that Bratton is not the commissioner we saw under Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1994.

For instance, this year de Blasio did not support hiring 1,000 more cops. Bratton did not protest that move or others by de Blasio regarding the NYPD.

But if what worries you is crime, look at the numbers.


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