Lefty Bill deBlasio's takes over Gotham....
The central question: Will NYC's crime rate soar once again?
In the short run, NO. Credit deBlasio with an attack of good sense in appointing Rudy Giuliani's first police chief, William Bratton to succeed Ray Kelly. Bratton, who reformed the LAPD after starting Rudy's NYPD renaissance, has the public stature and credibility to resist dopey moves by the new mayor.
In the medium- to long-term, given deBlasio's extremist lefty views, we'll have to wait and see. Let's put the task in historical perspective:
Hark back at the Big Apple's murder rate arc. It ran around 500 annually 1960-63, topped 1,000 in 1969, 1,500 in 1972 & twice topped 2,000 (1991 & 1992), before beginning in 1994 a steep decline to 2013's all-time record low 313.
The yearly murder totals merit a closer look, to see what is at risk if the police are reined in by progressive left-wing policies:
1928-34 & 1936: 3,999 murders; avg. 444/yr. Peak was 588 in 1931; trough was 425 in 1929. There are no numbers for pre-1928 years. (NYC's 5-borough structure dates from Jan. 1, 1898.)
1935 & 1937-59: No murder tallies. As 1936 total was 510 & 1960 total 482, and given no historical evidence of surge in murder rates during those years, totals in the 400 - 500 per year range are a reasonable guess for these undocumented years.
Robert F. Wagner, Jr. (1960-65): 3,414 murders; avg. 569/yr. (Wagner was mayor for 12 years, 1954-1965 inclusive, as NYC mayoralty begins on New Year's Day corresponding to off-year federal election years). His last two years saw 636 (1964) & 634 (1965), the first years NYC's recorded total topped 600. The Wagner years saw several highly-publicized murders--the career girl killings (1963) & the Kitty Genovese killing (1964)--that began raising public awareness and, consequently, anxiety.
John Lindsay (1966-73): 9,383 murders; avg. 1,173/yr. After two years close to earlier totals, then slightly up at 1,400 combined for the two years 1966 & 1967, the rate jumped to 986 in 1968 and crossed 1,000, to 1,043 in 1969, the final year of Lindsay's first term. The murder rate stayed above 1,000 annually through 1995, the second year of Rudy Giuliani's first term. Thus for 27 consecutive years NYC's annual murder rate topped 1,000. For Lindsay's final two years the murder rate topped 1,600, finishing with 1,691 in 1972 & 1,680 in 1973.
Abraham Beame (1974-77): 6,378 murders; avg. 1,595/yr. Beame's four yearly numbers were all below Lindsay's last two, ranging from 1,554 in 1974 to 1,645 in 1975. Symbolic of Beame's tumultuous term was the summer of 1977, when the serial killer "Son of Sam" dominated news coverage for months.
Edward Koch (1978-89): 20,056 murders; avg. 1,669/yr. (1st term: 6,877; avg. 1,719/yr. 2nd term: 6,124 murders; avg. 1,531/yr. 3rd term: 7,055 murders; avg. 1,764/yr.) After averaging 1,623 murders annually his first decade, Koch's final two years soared to 1,896 in 1988 & 1,905 in 1989, back-to-back all-time highs. His three terms saw the crack cocaine epidemic in the ghettos. Koch, who leveraged the 1975 NYC municipal insolvency to force finance & budget reforms that led to a balanced city budget in 1981, never had similar political impetus to coalesce broad public support for a crime crackdown.
David Dinkins (1990-93): 8,340 murders; 2,085/yr. Dinkins's term saw a record 2,245 in 1990 (including pair of social club fires that between them killed about 200 total), then 2,154 in 1991, making for 4,399 in just two years. His 1992 total was barely under 2,000, at 1,995, followed by 1,946 for 1993. The four horrific Dinkins years laid the foundation for Rudy Giuliani, narrowly defeated by Dinkins in 1989, to narrowly defeat Dinkins in 1993 and take back the streets. The Dinkins era was marked as well by the 1991 Crown Heights pogrom, during which a rabbinical student was murdered as young blacks chanted "Kill the Jew!" & "Heil Hitler!"; meanwhile Mayor Dinkins was attending (yes) the U.S. Open tennis matches. CH stands as the world's only pogrom since 1945.
Rudy Giuliani (1994-2001): 7,117 murders; avg. 890/yr. (1st term: 4,491 murders; avg. 1,123/yr. 2nd term: 2,626 murders; avg. 657/yr.) Rudy's final first-term year, 1997, saw 770 murders; his last term saw the first three years under 700 and a final-year (2001) total of 649, the lowest total since 1965. Rudy established a new tone quickly, inaugurating the "broken windows" policing theory of cracking down on small offenses to signal the community (criminals & law-abiding alike) that law & order was being enforced. Then came the "Compstat" management system, using computer-generated data to target resources where crime rates were highest, with regular meetings to assess results & calibrate targeting accordingly. Rudy also publicly stiffed self-styled "community leaders" who baited police with largely (a few highly publicized outrages were rare exceptions) unfair charges of racism & indifference.
Michael Bloomberg (2002-13): 6,152 murders; avg. 513/yr. (1st term: 2,293 murders; avg. 573/yr. 2nd term: 2,083 murders; avg. 521/yr. 3rd term: 1,776 murders; avg. 448/yr.) Bloomberg's numbers ticked up slightly until 2007, when the total fell below 500 (494) for the first time since 1961 (483). For 2012 the murder rate fell to 414, the then-lowest ever recorded. And as noted above, 2013 saw a new record low, at 313.
Another Bloomberg era innovation: the new CourtStat arraignment system. Like Rudy's CompStat for crime data, it brings computerized data & modern management to streamline NYC's processing 360,000 arraignments per year--equal to about 1,000 arraignments every day. From January to December 2012 the average time per arraignment fell 27 percent, from 27.58 to 20.09 hours.
To put NYC's post-1993 murder reduction achievement in perspective, NYC's 2013 population is estimated at 8.337 million; its per capita murder rate is thus roughly 3.75 per 100,000. The 10 cities with the highest per capita murder rates ranged from 24.1 to 64.9 murders per 100,000. For Rudy + Mike's 20 years, there were 13,629 murders, an average of 663 murders per year. Had the Dinkins annual average of 2,085 murders continued there would have been 41,700 murders for 1994-2013. Thus 28,071 fewer homicides--1,404 annually for 20 years--were committed than had the Dinkins pace continued, a 67 percent murder-rate reduction per year, thanks to Rudy's & Mike's leadership. Bloomberg's 2013 figure of 313 murders is down 86 percent from the Dinkins 1990 peak of 2,245 and 85 percent from Dinkins's 2,085/yr. average.
Part of the teason for his success: Mayor Bloomberg has consistently backed the NYPD against the usual accusations leveled by the usual suspects, and reaped excellent results in reducing crime.
What do we learn? Put simply, it is unwise to abandon policies that are proven to work well in securing vital public goals, such as reducing violent crime. Ending "stop-and-frisk" will deprive police of a highly effective way--perhaps the very best way--to disarm violent criminals, unlike blunderbuss gun control measures that primarily disarm law-abiding citizens.
Bottom Line. Bill deBlasio now governs a city whose population, nearly 8.4 million, tops that of 39 states. Throwing away successful policing strategies could well send the Big Apple on a path towards the murder rates that dominated the high-crime years--when the murder rates topped 1,000 every year: the 27 years 1969-1995, that saw a total of 42,479 murders, an average of 1,573 per year. Overall, for the 54 years 1960-2013, NYC saw 60,840 murders, an average of 1,127 per year.
Do New Yorkers really want to go back to this?
Gotham's new mayor will, unlike earlier lefty mayors, be measured against the yardstick of the past 20 years, probably the finest anti-crime performance improvement ever in big-city annals. Perhaps that will prove the best insurance against progressive political temptation to tamper with strategies proven to have worked so well.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Homeland Security, Terrorism, Conservative Politics