One of the problems many parents have with letting their departing 18-year olds move to New York City is the metropolis’s history of crime. There was a time in this city when a New Yorker’s chances of getting murdered or victimized was higher than a black man’s chances of getting a cab ride to Brooklyn.
But all that time has come and gone. Since the city’s high murder tally in 1990, in which 2,245 people were killed, the murder rate in New York City has gotten lower and lower just about every year. And now in 2009, according to a report in the New York Times, the murder rate has reached its all-time low (since records were kept beginning in 1962) of just 461 murders through December 27th, as compared to the 522 peopled killed in 2008 and the 496 people killed in 2007, which is currently the record-low.
As I informed you earlier this summer, I moved out of Brooklyn this past May. Apparently, I improved my expected lifespan, as Brooklyn is by far the borough with the most homicides. So far this year, there have been 200 homicides in Brooklyn, nearly twice the amount of the borough with the second-most homicides, the Bronx, which had just 108 homicides as of December 27th. While Brooklyn’s sheer size and its dominating population certainly account for the excess homicides, I’m sure the drug cartel that was all but apparent in front of my building, and many others, has a lot to do with it.
Manhattan, on the other hand, is undoubtedly the safest borough in the city. Yes, its 58 murders this year trump that of Staten Island’s 16, but given that Manhattan’s population is more than 3 times larger than that of Staten Island’s, the murder rates are fairly equal, and the police force is much stronger in Manhattan. Of course, Harlem, my neighborhood, isn’t exactly the safest part of Manhattan. The safest parts were detailed in the NYTimes article:
The Central Park Precinct is the only one that has logged no homicides so far this year. The dozen that have had only one include the 123rd on the south shore of Staten Island; the 111th in Bayside, Queens; the 45th, in the northeast area of the Bronx that includes Co-op City, and the 50th, which covers Riverdale, Kingsbridge and other neighborhoods in the northwest Bronx; in Brooklyn, the 68th in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton, the 78th in Park Slope and the 84th, which includes Brooklyn Heights and Boerum Hill; and in Manhattan, the Fifth, in the Chinatown area, the Sixth, in the West Village, the 10th in Chelsea and parts of Midtown, the 13th, which covers Gramercy Park, and 30th in Hamilton Heights. – New York Times
But with so much apparent safety in New York City, do we lose our edge?
I don’t mean to sound crazy, nor am I trying to promote any kind of violence, but what happened to the days when it wasn’t safe to walk down street? What about the good old days when there were famous serial murderer names floating around, like the Son of Sam, “The Angelo,” and Seinfeld’s “the Lopper?” Remember the show New York Undercover? They can’t make television shows like that anymore. A show like that is much better suited for Baltimore, Detroit or New Orleans, where murders are actually on the rise. Now our shows should be more appropriately named, “CSI: NY Please,” “New York Undercover or Underblankets?” or the soon to be remade, “NYPD Who?”
No, I’m just playing. Of course, we’re better off when the streets are safer. Now we can send our dates home on the subway instead of paying for a cab. After all, we are in a recession.
Still, the most striking thing about the New York Times report, isn’t necessarily the drop in the murder rate, or the fact that Manhattan’s overall victimized crime rate is down. It’s the fact that 66% of those killed were killed by somebody they know. It just goes to show you that as safe as you feel around your New York friends and family, someone in the crew might be doing more than just killing you with kindness.