We hear a lot of things about the city being safer and various crime rates going down. But much of the time, it's more important to examine what's behind the numbers, and there's an good look at the city's crime statistics by Emily Vasquez in the NY Times today. Yes, crime is going down, but crimes by young people are going up and illegal guns continue to be a problem. Juvenile arrests increased 11%, whereas in the past the increases had been around 2%, and experts believe young people are more apt to respond with violence in seemingly trivial situations. David Kennedy at John Jay College's Center for Crime Prevention and Control explained, "What everybody sees is street rules saying if you’re dissed you have to do something. And what counts as being dissed is getting more and more minor.”
And there was an interesting explanation from the police as to why the murder rate has gone up: Crimes of the past.
What has inflated the 2006 statistic is an unusual number of deaths this year that were classified as homicides because the medical examiner determined they were directly related to crimes from previous years, the police said.
One such case is that of 72-year-old Kam Tsang, who was shot under unknown circumstances in Lower Manhattan in 1974, the police said. Mr. Tsang was left paralyzed after the shooting but died in April of pneumonia. In June the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, attributing his susceptibility to pneumonia to the initial gunshot wound.
Twenty-five such reclassified deaths were included in the homicide count by Sept. 24, and 12 of those were related to injuries sustained at least 14 years ago, the police said. Last year only 13 such reclassified deaths were counted by Sept. 24, and the rise appears somewhat of a fluke, the police said.
Still, the NYPD is being credited with making gains in fighting crime.
Here's a graphic of the city's crime stats from the NY Times. And earlier this week, Mayor Bloomberg traveled to Philadelphia to call for tougher gun laws.