Sunday, November 20, 2011

NYC -- How It Evolved from Most Dangerous City to Safest: Salon.com

No one would argue that New York City is simply not the same city it was back during the 1970s to 1980s, and the results are good, crime wise, although there is something a bit boring and antiseptic about the city today.

In a Salon.com book review there is a theory put forth explaining how this change happened -- and the book will surprise you. The New York of the film "Death Wish" is today a city out of Disneyland, if you ask me.

"In the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, New York was viewed as one of the world’s most dangerous metropolises — a cesspool of violence and danger depicted in gritty films like 'The Warriors' and 'Escape From New York.' Friends who lived here during that time talk of being terrified to use the subway, of being mugged outside their apartments, and an overwhelming tide of junkies. Thirty-one one of every 100,000 New Yorkers were murdered each year, and 3,668 were victims of larceny," the story says.

"Today, in an astonishing twist, New York is one of the safest cities in the country. Its current homicide rate is 18 percent of its 1990 total — its auto theft rate is 6 percent. The drop exceeded the wildest dreams of crime experts of the 1990s, and it’s a testament to this transformation that New Yorkers now seem more likely to complain about the city’s dullness than about its criminality."

How did this happen? According to a new book by a Berkeley law professor, the reasons for this evolution, despite the popularly held view, is not Giuliani’s “zero tolerance” bluster,Salon.com reports.

"In his fascinating new book, “The City that Became Safe,” Franklin Zimring, a professor of law and chairman of the Criminal Justice Research Program at the University of California at Berkeley [reports that] it was a combination of strategic policing and harm reduction by the New York Police Department. Police targeted open-air drug markets, and went after guns, while leaving drug users largely alone. The implications of the strategy could make us revise not only the way we think about crime, but the way we think about our prison system and even human nature."


Read full story: What really cleaned up New York - Salon.com

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