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Manhattan at the Crossroads

Will Manhattan return to the crime-ridden Bad Old Days of the Death Wish era? That's entirely up to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

by
Jack Dunphy

Bio

August 12, 2014 - 10:55 pm
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How comforting to be blessed with a short memory.  You can awaken each morning in the belief that the halcyon conditions that greet you as you go about your day have always existed, and that no effort or even thought need be expended to secure their continuance.  Consider the city of New York, whose citizens (or at least a majority of its voters) seem to live under the shared delusion that the low crime currently seen across the five boroughs is simply the way things are, have always been, and always will be.  How else to explain the election of Bill de Blasio?

In 1990, the first year of Mayor David Dinkins’s stewardship, New York City experienced its all-time record number of criminal homicides, a staggering 2,245.  When Dinkins left office on New Year’s Eve, 1993, the total for that year was a slightly less horrifying 1,960.

But in 2013, through the efforts of the mayors who succeeded Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, their respective police commissioners, and most importantly the men and women of the NYPD, the number was 335.  This may be small comfort if someone close to you happened to be one of the 335, but New Yorkers today have all but forgotten the experience of passing two crime scenes on their way to the Subway and perhaps another after reaching their final stop.  Through the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, if you showed up late for work and gave the excuse that there had been another murder on the D train, your boss wouldn’t have bothered to question it.  When New Yorkers of a certain age refer to the “Dinkins days,” it is not a term of fond nostalgia.

And how will New Yorkers 25 years hence remember the “de Blasio days”?  Relying on recent news, we might make a guess.  The New York Post reported Thursday on the return of the “squeegee men,” those ubiquitous symbols of the dystopia into which New York City once descended.  For those too young to remember, imagine being stopped at a traffic light and watching helplessly as some street urchin, someone you might smell before you can see, runs up and sprays some kind of liquid on your windshield, smears it around with a crumpled page of newsprint, then demands to be paid for his efforts.  There was a time when you couldn’t emerge from a tunnel or exit a bridge into Manhattan without running into at least one of them.

But the squeegee men may be the least of New York’s crime problems.  According to NYPD statistics, shootings in the city are up 10.3 percent for the year (PDF), and in the 28-day period that ended July 27, they were up 21 percent over the same time period last year.  In the police precincts under the Brooklyn North command, shootings were up 52 percent for the same four-week period.  And while the bad numbers are going up, the good ones are going down: the New York Post reported in June that gun seizures by NYPD officers were down by 10.2 percent for the year.

Which brings us back to Mayor de Blasio and the dilemma he now faces.  In his campaign for office, Mr. de Blasio was openly dismissive, even contemptuous, of the “stop-and-frisk” tactics employed by the NYPD, i.e., the proactive policing measures to which an unquantifiable but surely significant portion of the decades-long drop in violent crime can be credited.  A federal judge’s ruling in a lawsuit has ended stop-and-frisk (a legal travesty thoroughly explored by my friend Heather Mac Donald here and here), and the message now being tacitly transmitted to front-line police officers is: Don’t go out there and ruffle any feathers.  If your actions result in controversy, your chain of command and your political leaders will not defend you.

Top Rated Comments   
Has it been established with any degree of certainty that Mr. Garner had bought those cigarettes without paying the normal sales and tobacco taxes due the city? In other words, are they certain he had not bought that pack locally, paying all the taxes Joe Schmo would have, then merely broke open the sealed pack and sold "loosies" at a per-unit price that realised for him a profit? If this second were the case, then the city did NOT get "cheated" out of any taxes. Instead, they have incurred massive expenses way out of proportion to any tax that might have been paid otherwise. And those costs will continue to rise, as the "investigation" continues, professional costs (autopsy, etc) mount, two cops are off duty WITH pay, thus incurring costs with no benefit to the people of the city.... how insane is all this?

FASCISM defined: government control of private means of productio. If this description does not fit the present situation, nothing does. WHY are NYPD serving as revenue collectors instead of dealing with real crime? ID the man, issue a summons, and let the courts deal with the matter... which is an unfair matter on its face. NYPD has cooked up this mess of stew, let them simmer in it for a while.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
New York "chose" deBlasio? No.

DeBlasio had the benefit not only of Obama's OFA team doing his ads, but of a lot of pressure behind the scenes on the municipal unions (and their money) to back him over Bill Thompson, the one adult running in the Democrat primary. The newspapers switched off between breathless coverage of the deBlasio interracial menage and coverage of the clown antics of Anthony Weiner's doomed candidacy. Coverage of Thompson, a man who had been a decent city controller and who, despite being vastly outspent and outmaneuvered, had come within 50,000 votes of defeating Bloomberg's run for an illegal third term? Nowhere to be found.

When deBlasio, with this backing, managed to just barely squeak to a victory that was susceptible to a runoff vote, Thompson came under huge pressure to not press for that vote---and his union (financial) support started melting.

DeBlasio lumbered to victory because the Leftist powerbroker fix was in, not because "New York chose him."
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (29)
All Comments   (29)
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BINGO, Jack. I'm retired FDNY and was there from Koch to Guiliani. I remember well, the "David (Tennis anyone?) Dinkins days with his Police Commissioner, "Out of Town Brown" who stayed with his "sick mom" while Crown Heights was exploding into a city riot of three days. Dinkins said famously, "Let them vent". And they vented all over a bunch of innocent Jews, killing at least one besides an Italian they thought was a Jew. I remember the picture in the Post of a slew of cops literally penned and being held back while bedlam was going on in front of them, some of them crying in frustration and rage. I knew the cop Van Houten that was doing plain clothes detail at a hospital where all the Hospital employees cars were being broken into. A thug came up from behind and yoked him while his brother was slugging him into near unconsciousness when he shot the thug as he was falling to the ground. He was all set to be handed over to the mobs as a sacrifice (turns out they were ghetto prodigies going to elite prep schools, one set for Cornell). Blue eyed cop shoots poor black child. Thank God people were looking out from the hospital windows to testify and back up Van Houten or he would have been destroyed. You think Cops are going to put themselves on the line for a Mayor that has always hated cops and loved the thugs? The NYPD always knew that Guilliani would back them along with his Commissioner if they were right, no matter the price. When Guilliani first took office, Sharpton and his two stooges stood outside demanding to be given an audience. Gulliani told them to pound dirt. I live in Dallas now. My son is FDNY as is my brother. I pray that my beloved city does not decline into that dystopian hell of Dinkins era.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
I seem to recall when Guiliani was elected Mayor and set about to clean up New York with his zero-tolerance policies, I read a LOT about New Yorkers complaining that cleaning up New York was ruining New York. They reminisced about neighborhoods teeming with vice - prostitution, porn, drugs, etc. - and whined that the Disneyfication of New York (making the city safe for residents and tourists alike) was destroying the soul of the city. At the time I thought that sounded crazy. Who wouldn't want the city they live in to be safe? Who, other than the purveyors and consumers of vice, wouldn't want the hookers and drug dealers off the streets? Well, apparently liberal New Yorkers who lamented that the city was no longer as "gritty."

I'm from the Midwest, and had to go to New York for business on a pretty regular basis. I hated the place. I was afraid to go ANYWHERE, including Broadway, because of the disgusting things you had to walk past on the street. I had friends who lived in pretty ritzy neighborhoods who had to step over bums sleeping in their doorways in the morning.

I guess the people who elected the Communist deBlasio miss the old New York so much, they're trying to bring it back. Well, they can have it!
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
I remember the NYC of the 70's. I lived over in NJ at the time, about 25 minutes from the Lincoln Tunnel.
New York was a mess back then. The poison of that environment bled over into NJ. Those were ugly, depressing times.

And it's going to come back all right. With a great fury.

They knew better, and they elected that marxist scumbag anyway.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Jack, I worked there through Giuliani and then into Bloombug. Rudy did fix the streets. Unfortunately, I know a Judge who was tossed on his way to work. I myself was nearly arrested in my suit and tie for giving a lady directions. I was apparently standing in traffic. I had Black coworkers, who happened to have dreadlocks, guns and badges, rat packed by NYPD on the courthouse steps.
I had a female coworker have the crap kicked out of her across from Bronx Family Court. When I applied for a NYC carry permit, I was told that my NYS carry permit would get me jack. I was told that I needed $6,000 for an Article 81 Appeal to even fight for a permit.
The streets were not made safe by civilians, or for civilians. They were simply made vacant. Everyone was scared shiiit less. A good friend was arrested on his wedding night for stepping 4 feet outside of a bar in the summer with a beer in his hand. I had to show my officer of the court ID to get him un-cuffed. Giuliani was nuts.
And he did not do one thing to make it easier for anyone to carry, no matter what their credentials. But he put is buddy Kerick and other goons in charge of the sweeping of the streets.
As a Libertarian, a Conservative, I'd much rather have the freedom on Dinkins than the scary place Rudy made. Yes, it was safe. So is the capital of any dictatorship.
The only non fascist way to keep NYC safe is to :
1. get rid of public housing. Give every occupant 50K to vacate. It's racist, segregated housing.
2. get Congress to pass interstate permit reciprocity. Once NYC has to honor permits from Conn and Pa and Fla, all their anti-gun, police monopoly crap will be over and done with.

I was there. I saw it.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
I remember the campaign song: 'General David Dinkins where are you?' to the tune of 'Car 54.' Interestingly, it isn't to be found on YouTube. Is that a political statement? I agree with Officer "Dunphy's" analysis of the politics.

However, when I saw the video of the Garner arrest, I didn't hear anyone inform the gentleman that he was under arrest, nor did I hear him informed of the charges against him. Since he wasn't actively assaulting an officer, there was time for these declarations, and lacking other unpublished video showing proper procedure, this appears to have been an illegal arrest. Since a death occurred, it may have been a wrongful death. I'll wait for the trial to make up my mind as to what happened.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Was that started by Bob Grant? I know he also used to drive Dinkins mad by calling him the Wash room attendant.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Until New York adopts the Detroit, San Bernardino, Orange County CA, Toledo OH solution, de Blasio and Bratton will only see increasing crimes of violence in that city. Do away with New York's unconstitutional ban on handguns and other firearms in the hands of the law abiding, and watch the crime rates plummet. Pay particular attention to Detroit, now enjoying a radical reduction in violent crimes these past six months or so.... since their new Chief of Police announced that his Department canot protect the people of that city, so they'd best arm themselves and get some training. They did, and the number of known housebreakings, muggings, rapes, burglaries attempted that have ended up with the perpetrators getting more than they had bargained for (in the form of hot lead, often in fatal doses) has increased radically. Within about six months of this new "trend" being established, the new crime rates in that city have dropped by some amazing percentage.. I seem to remember the number being in the high thirty percent range. And what did that cost the city? NOTHING!!!! Not enough coppers roaming about? Arm yourself, and serve as your own, and your neighbour's, First Responder.

Civilians are far safer with their guns, as well... something like ine sixth the incidents where innocents are hit with gunfire in the course of stopping a crime, and around four times the number of criminals apprehended or killed than the cops. The citizen's "miss" rate is far lower than that of the Only Ones, too. (LE have a miss rate of some eighty percent of total rounds fired in an incident. Mundanes more like half that or less)
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry- without context of who they're being taken from, gun seizures aren't a "good" number. Particularly the numbers taken from otherwise law abiding citizens who simply want the effective means to defend themselves in accordance with their constitutional and natural rights- that's a big negative number.

The other problem with crime statistics is the LAPD, Chicago PD, and the NYPD have all been called out in the local press for fudging the crime statistics. I don't think NY has the same crime rate as during the Dinkins days, but it is higher than what is being published. Since they've been willing to fudge the numbers in the last few years, what's to say they won't just do more if it in the future, in the interests of protecting/furthering careers?

Finally, who cares about crime anyway? The federal government have been aiding and abetting the violation of immigration laws on a massive scale. Why not just grant amnesty to all the criminals in the interest of fairness? We're rapidly becoming a lawless society -- let's go all the way.


6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is what happens when you have to rely on the police to be the sole defenders of public order. They must use unconstitutional means like stop and frisk to keep the city safe and at the same time bred a security culture of dependency on the law abiding citizen. The law abiding are about to find out that police cannot help them.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is a great piece and I grew up during and remember firsthand the Dinkins Days. One quibble...and it might not be Mr. Dunphy's fault. I dislike the headline and the sub-headline. It is New York City, not Manhattan. In fact, crime will probably go up faster first in the non-Manhattan boroughs as things come apart.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree. And no, I don't write the headlines.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's usually the case with headlines...still, great piece, but very sad as someone who loves that city. I watched coverage of that press event that had Rev. Al up there on stage with de Blasio and Bratton...lecturing them on how to run the city.

This will not end well.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Garner’s autopsy revealed no injury to his neck or throat, but the medical examiner nonetheless declared the alleged chokehold was a contributing factor in the man’s death. SNIP

Would the autopsy show if the jugular veins and carotid arteries were compressed?
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the martial arts, a 'choke' hold works by interrupting the blood supply to the brain, not by obstructing the airway. It is a routine maneuver taught to advanced students. You release the hold immediately upon unconsciousness or if the opponent taps out. If done properly, there is no bruising or detectable damage. Hold the move too long, and the interruption of oxygenated blood to the brain causes death. Police policy not permitting 'choke holds' is wise.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
He wasn't being choked. If he was, he wouldn't have been yelling "I can't breathe." He would have been unconscious. He was asthmatic. Not a wise thing to fight cops if you're asthmatic. And he had a coronary in the ambulance. How many 6 foot 3 350 lb monsters have you had to take control of in your life cup cake?
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
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