Back in the early 2000s, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani ushered in a program of crime-fighting to target “quality of life” offenders, such as the infamous squeegee men, panhandlers, and graffiti “artists.” The rationale was if the city got rid of these annoyances, higher-level criminals would get the message: We’re watching you.
The Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald wrote about this kind of policing in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal about the “Ferguson Effect” — what happens when the police stop targeting low-level criminal activity. Violence, including homicide, goes up.
When the police are afraid to police, and criminals are called “victims,” people in low-income neighborhoods suffer the most.
Now it seems Mayor Bill de Blasio, who got rid of stop-and-frisk and led the anti-cop rhetoric, is having regrets. CBS reported that in response to the increased murder rate, the NYPD will roll out the Summer All Out program early. The police will descend on high-crime areas to try to stop the violence. An excerpt (emphasis added):
“As we expect, when the warm weather comes, we see an increase in certain crimes,” Chief of Department James O’Neill said earlier this month. “We’re struggling with homicides and shootings.”
Areas targeted include the 81st precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the 44th precinct in the Bronx, the 73rd precinct in Brownsville, the 52nd precinct in the Bronx and the 67th precinct in East Flatbush.
“We have the right approach for turning the tide and in that, we will get a lot of guns away from the bad guys,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
But some like Natasha Christopher, who’s 14-year-old son Akeal died in a shooting, don’t think the mayor’s doing enough.
The proverbial tide has turned. High rates of gun violence and murder in New York City make the mayor look bad. The NYPD deserves a verbal and public apology from the mayor. They likely won’t get it, but his actions will have to do for now.