Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the way the media are reporting on crime in New York City:
When Rep. Jim Jordan put the spotlight on crime in New York City this week, he garnered the support of outraged crime victims. Immediately, politicians and the media responded by saying New York is a safe city. They are wrong. No media outlet was more wrong than the Associated Press (AP). Facts matter.
AP wrote that following Jordan’s hearings on violent crime in New York City, “claims spread across social media that the bad old days are back in the nation’s largest city.” To make its point, it said, “experts and city officials say crime across the five boroughs is nowhere near the levels seen in the 1990s….”
It also contended that “criminal justice experts say crime levels were significantly higher three decades ago, and that current levels are more comparable to where New York was a decade ago, when people frequently lauded it as America’s safest city.”
Here’s what AP didn’t report.
Between 2021 and 2022, overall crimes were up 27.6 percent. Felony assaults were up 13.2 percent, and rapes, robberies and transit crimes dramatically increased.
In his first year as Manhattan D.A., Alvin Bragg—who took over January 1, 2022—downgraded 52 percent of felonies to misdemeanors (compared to 39 percent downgraded in 2019). So of course felony statistics declined. But felony victims increased. Just as bad, Bragg sports a lousy 51 percent conviction rate for felonies he did charge.
The crime rate exploded in the early 1990s under Mayor David Dinkins. Why? Because, unlike his predecessor, Ed Koch, Dinkins was incompetent. As soon as Dinkins left office—he was succeeded by Rudy Giuliani—crime decreased dramatically. Giuliani did more to clean up New York City and restore civility than any mayor before him, or after him. He served from 1994 to 2001.
As I point out in my new book, War on Virtue, Giuliani is the reason why the crime rate fell by more than 40 percent in the 1990s. It was due to more aggressive, yet fair-minded, police practices. Bill Bratton, who was the police commissioner for a period during that time, later co-wrote an article explaining what happened and accurately reported that “the decline in homicides and other violent crimes between 1990 and 2000 constitutes one of the great achievements in the history of urban America.”
AP left all of this out.
Progress against crime continued under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. “Stop and frisk” tactics, allowing the police to act when they have reasonable suspicion, not only saved lives, but in 2012, the number of civilian complaints was the lowest it had been in the previous five years. All of these accomplishments were undone by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Marxist millionaire who undermined the police while failing to deal seriously with violent crime.
I work across the street from Penn Station. In his last few years in office, de Blasio allowed riots to take place with impunity, destroying one business after another. The area is a disaster. The storefronts are still boarded up and the crime element is as bad as ever.
It must also be said that when the police are told to “stand down,” as they have for the past several years, crime statistics will not appear as high as they really should. In other words, we are dealing with a mirage. Couple this with the continued demonization of the police and what we have is lawlessness that is out of control.
When Giuliani and Bloomberg were mayor, those who live within 50 miles of the city would not hesitate to come into New York for shopping, plays, concerts, sports and restaurants. Now relatively few do. The decline in revenue that the city was banking on is going to become its next big problem. It’s going bust.
New York City has become a drug-infested, crime-ridden, filthy city, and no amount of media spin about it being safe can change that reality.
Contact Julie Pace, executive editor, AP: email@example.com