« New Duke study claims $11 million in yearly savings if NC eliminated death penalty | Main | First Circuit debates applicability of child porn trafficking sentence enhancement »

December 28, 2009

New lows for murders and the crime rate in New York City

Police and prosecutors and lots of others must be doing something right when it comes to criminal justice policy in the Big Apple because, as detailed in this AP report, new figures released today "show overall crime in the nation's largest city is down 11 percent from last year and 35 percent since 2001."  This New York Times piece, headlined "New York on Track for Fewest Murders on Record," discusses in more detail the significant new drop in murder rates in NYC:

The storyline of murder in New York is one that has been undergoing constant revision since the Police Department began tracking homicides in 1962. There have been rises — the homicide rate peaked in 1990 at 2,245 — and subsequent falls. But since such statistics have been compiled and examined, there has never been as few murders in New York as there have been this year.

The city is on track, for the second time in three years, to have the fewest number of homicides in a 12-month period since 1962. As of Dec. 27, there were 461 murders; the current record low happened in 2007, when there were 496.

The murder tally has gone down despite a bad economy and predictions that crime might have hit bottom — a notion rejected by the city’s police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly.  But challenges persist: With the city facing a $4.1 billion budget deficit, the police force — which has seen its head count reduced by 6,000 officers since 2001 — may have to shrink further....

[O]ne thing has not changed: guns are still the deadliest of weapons.  Most of this year’s victims, or 283 of them, were killed with a gun fired by someone they knew.  Other methods of murder included being stabbed (90 victims), hit with a blunt instrument (28 victims) or asphyxiated (16 victims).  One victim was murdered with a car.

Curbing gun use is linked to lowering the murder rate, and Mr. Kelly credited the mayor’s effort to stop illegal guns from flowing into New York, saying 90 percent of crime guns confiscated in the city come from out of state.  He also cited the department’s program of stopping people on the streets to question and sometimes frisk them as a “life-saving” strategy that has led to 7,000 weapons seized this year, including 800 guns.  “We have a policy of engagement, and I think it’s working,” Mr. Kelly said.  “We believe young people, who may have a gun, think twice before they take it out on the street.”

The commissioner said the city’s current success can also be traced to eight years of programs like Operation Impact, which attacks stubborn crime plateaus, and the Real Time Crime Center, which feeds detectives instant intelligence.  “We always modify, hone and adjust our strategies,” Mr. Kelly said.  “We are getting better and better at it.”...

Killers and those killed are overwhelmingly male and most in both categories are between 18 and 40, the police said.

There are a number of notable sentencing stories regarding New York state and New York City that bear consideration as these encouraging crime data contemplated.  First, New York state in recent years has been reducing its overall prison population and its incarceration rate.  Second, the two federal districts that impose among the greatest number of below-guideline sentences are based on Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Of course, based on these data, I would not make a bold claim that there is a direct causal link between more lenient sentencing outcomes and reduced crime.  But I do think these NYC realities help refute the notion that crime reductions can only be achieved by more severe sentencing outcomes.

December 28, 2009 at 02:32 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference New lows for murders and the crime rate in New York City:


Strict actions must be Undertaken.

Posted by: Alen Jolly | Dec 28, 2009 11:54:18 PM

These are police crime reports. Worthless, and self-serving. Only household crime victimization surveys have the slightest validity. The police do not report crimes with values under $500, for example. You get pistol whipped for your wallet with $200? Not included in these statistics.

The drop in murder is explained by enhanced trauma care, using the lessons learned on the battle field in Iraq.

In Manhattan, criminals have been driven out by housing prices. Only wealthy old people remain. Their crimes are on paper, not on the pavement.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 29, 2009 2:49:01 AM

Interesting that the murder statistics are sliced and diced in every conceivable manner but for the race of the victims.

Posted by: mjs | Dec 29, 2009 10:12:08 AM

mjs --

Good catch.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 29, 2009 10:51:54 AM

I don't think there is a "direct causal link" between my letter to Santa Claus and the fact I got the Xbox I wanted under the tree, but I do think the fact I've got a new Xbox helps "refute the notion" that Santa don't exist.

Posted by: Ferris Bueller | Dec 29, 2009 12:11:24 PM

Good information for new person in New York Because We should know laws in different countries

Posted by: General Contractor Los Angeles | Sep 28, 2011 5:24:06 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB