Community leaders dissect city's mixed crime changes since 2001
The number of crimes in the city fell by 50,000 between 2001 and 2012, and five neighborhoods in Manhattan and Queens led the way, police say.
Police precincts encompassing Midtown North, Midtown South, Forest Hills, TriBeCa and Flushing saw the biggest drops in crime since 2001, according to CompStat data from the NYPD.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who didn't comment for this story, has repeatedly credited police strategies, including the controversial "stop and frisk" procedure, as key factors in reducing crime because they take illegal guns off the street.
The reduction in weapons, Kelly contends, led to 235 fewer murders in the city last year compared with 2001, the year before he took over the NYPD.
Community leaders and elected officials, however, said the safety increase is a team effort from all neighborhood players.
"There's a two-way relationship between safety and confidence," said Alvin Berk, the chairman of Community Board 14 in Ditmas Park, which had 1,800 fewer crimes last year compared with 2001, one of the steepest drops citywide.
"When they have confidence, they are able to go out [and] feel safer, and when they're safe they feel confident to boost the neighborhood," Berk said.
The Midtown North and Midtown South precincts had 3,191 and 2,983 fewer crimes, respectively, compared with 2001.
Wally Rubin, the district manager of Community Board 5, which oversees all of Midtown, said business improvement districts, the city and the residents have worked hard to make areas like Times Square thriving places for visitors.
"When something is active day and night, it's not where criminals want to be," he said.
In some cases, however, residents can only do so much to improve their neighborhoods, as three precincts - covering the Rockaways and surrounding areas, the South Bronx and Chelsea - had crime increases last year compared with 2001.
The 100th Precinct, which covers many Sandy-affected neighborhoods such as Broad Channel, Breezy Point and the Rockaways, saw 168 more crimes last year, a 37.6% increase from 2001, but residents say the superstorm wasn't the driving force.
Dan Mundy, 71, a lifelong Broad Channel resident, said post-Sandy burglaries and other crimes were not too bad compared with the rest of the year. "The people are looking for junk and scrap," he said.
Donovan Richards, the councilman-elect for the Rockaways and Broad Channel, noted that his district had 615 total crimes last year compared to Midtown South, with had 2,895 overall crimes in 2012, so the police data was subjective.
Rafael Salamanca, the district manager of Community Board 2 in the South Bronx - which saw a 5.5% overall crime increase in the 41st Precinct, with 77 more incidents last year than 2001 - said his community's crime stats are inflated because the precinct includes crimes at Rikers Island.
Bronx residents have a good relationship with the cops, according to Salamanca, and steps are being taken to combat the violence that exists on their streets.
Pols on crime
There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, and community involvement is a big one. Without proactive policing, we'd get nowhere.' -- Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), chair of the Council's Public Safety Committee
The numbers tell me we need to make sure people have more opportunity. When you don't have small businesses in the community, people don't have jobs and they turn to crime.' -- Donovan Richards, councilman elect for the Rockaways, which saw an increase in crime between 2001 and 2012