Fear of Crime Persists Among New Yorkers Despite Official ReassurancesNovember 11, 2023
The feds confiscate his phones, and political change is suddenly in the air. It’s a great time to acknowledge the only thing the city’s centrist mayor and his lefty foes agree about: New Yorkers don’t appreciate how safe they are.
Crime rates are down from last year and a fraction of what they were in the early 1990s, even if they’re still up a bit from before the pandemic.An October Siena poll showed 45% of people in New York City said that “the problem of crime in your community” is worse than it was a year ago, while just 13% said it’s better.
As a result, politicians believe that journalists, the GOP, or something else is preventing New Yorkers from appreciating their safety, whether that’s a credit to Eric Adams’ police or proof that bail and other justice reforms didn’t harm public safety.
Mayor Adams stated that New Yorkers start their day picking up the news, and they see some of the most horrific events; it plays on their psyche. This is despite the fact that local news coverage hasn’t become more horrifying since he was elected. If anything, the city’s other tabloid played up crime and chaos during the primary to help Adams make his case after endorsing him and has reset its coverage since.
Two stories on the same page of Thursday’s Daily News captured the split between how New Yorkers feel and how they’re told they should feel.
The first story was about a 49-year-old man who the police say is a chronic swiper holding open a subway gate, and a 43-year-old “subway vigilante” who took out a revolver, fired a shot, and then fled.
Below that news was another story about a 23-year-old who tried to rob an unlicensed weed store and was shot dead by the store owner. The video of the incident looks like a Looney Tunes bit, except it’s real life, a robbery, and a death.
The danger signs that leave New Yorkers feeling unsafe when the numbers say they’re pretty safe seem a lot like broken windows. Adams and his allies seem to prefer a top-down approach to the NYPD, mostly ordering hands-off or light-touch policing. Expect more madness in a city with lots of legal gun carriers, including on the trains, after the Supreme Court struck down the century-old gun law.
In that June poll, 69% of New Yorkers said they feared a local “shooting in which a gunman targets people based on their race, religion or ethnicity.”
Add it up and the result is crime numbers are low but fear is not.
Siegel (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an editor at The City and a columnist for the Daily News.