Like all successful politicians, Mayor Bill de Blasio knows how to present bad news as good news. To aide him, he has enablers at the NYPD.
Take last week’s news release, headlined: “Overall Crime Continues to Decline in New York City Through the First Half of 2018.” The opening sentence reads: “New York City achieved a reduction of 853 crime reports or — 1.8% year-to-date, compared to the same period in 2017.”
In the newspaper business, that is called burying the lede. Which came in the next sentence: There were 147 homicides reported year-to-date, compared with 136 in 2017. This is an increase of 11 crimes, or 8.1 percent.
That uptick in homicides could be more consequential than those 853 crime reports.
Homicide is considered the bellwether crime because homicide statistics can’t be easily manipulated as other crime figures can. All homicides go through the medical examiner’s office. Or as the late great Jack Maple, founder of CompStat, put it: “You can’t hide a body in a cemetery.”
The rise in homicides was mainly in the Bronx and gang related — exemplified by this month’s horrific mistaken-identity killing of a Bronx teen by the Dominican gang Trinitarians.
As for those 853 crime reports, most of them occurred in the city’s poorest neighborhoods and were filed by some of NYC’s most vulnerable souls.
At the 40th Precinct, where the mayor held his monthly crime-reduction news conference, he ignored the homicide uptick. Rather, he said, “crime remains at record lows and at the end of June, so six months into the year, total crime down 1.8 percent year to date compared to last year. So almost 2 percent reduction in overall crime this point this year compared to the same point last year. Again that makes this the lowest six-month period for overall crime in the modern era.”
The mayor was seconded by Chief of Department Terence Monahan. “We have exceeded historic reductions we achieved at this time last year,” Monahan said. “Overall crime for the first six months of the year is down 1.8 percent, 853 crimes compared to the first six months of 2017. This is the lowest six-month period for overall crime in the CompStat era.
When asked what he believed was behind “this uptick in crime in the Bronx,” as the questioner put it, the normally intelligent Monahan answered with a straight face: “It’s not an uptick in crime. It’s an uptick in homicide.”