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New York Overview and Crime Rates

New York which was infamous for its crime wave during the crack cocaine epidemic has seen its crime rates drop significantly since the year 1991. The crime levels in New York reached a record-breaking low this year. Back in the days, New York was a city with an unmanageable crime today.

Today it ranks in the top ten safest cities to live in the world. In 2017 itself, there were only 290 cases of homicide which is a record low since the 1940s. Some of the various factors that are responsible for the reduction in a crime wave in New York are- legalization of abortion about 18 years ago, the decline of lead poisoning in children, the end of the crack epidemic and adoption of broken windows policing practices by the city cops.

New York Crime in the 20th century

Research indicates that the reduction in a crime wave in New York City can be attributed to more than one factor. Authors of the book Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Steven Dubner argue that one of the most important impacts of the legalization of abortion in the 70s was the reduction in the crime wave.

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Babies that were born into poverty or in difficult situations which would go ahead to become criminals in all likelihood were not born due to the legalization. Another major reason for the reduction in the crime wave was attributed to reducing levels of lead in the city. Lead inhalation leads to lowering of intelligence and an increase in the levels of aggression.

 Thus, when levels of lead reduced in the city, criminality and the criminal mentality both took a beating. While the broken windows policy of policing has had an effect on the crime wave, its importance is often over-glorified. This is primarily due to the book Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell that treated the crime wave as an epidemic. The book argues that the broken windows policy was successful in tipping the scales to one side which resulted in a reduction in the crime wave. 

New York - The Nightlife Legislation

The Nightlife legislation was enacted in the year 2006, in response to a spike in nighttime murders in the city that involved bouncers and nightclubs. There were 4 pieces of legislation that were introduced by the City Council in order to combat this new wave of crime. One of the laws that were implemented called for stronger background checks on bouncers, the requirement of ID scanners and security cameras in the facility and other kinds of independent scanners and monitors to keep a check. A brief overview of the implemented plan is mentioned below.

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  • Establishment of a city office for managing nightlife activities.
  • Enact new hiring processes that would result in an increased number of cops in the city.
  • Stop the use of fake IDs and put a cap on underage drinking.
  • Establish better relationships between nightclub managers, New York State Liquor Authority and the police department of the city.
 
  • Increasing the age limit to enter a bar from 16 to 18 or 21.
  • Starting a public awareness campaign about safety at night and requesting the patrons to follow certain safety protocols at night.
  • Establishing zoning laws in order to combat crime in neighborhoods with a high concentration of crime and criminality including regions that are filled with bars and nightclubs.

Apart from typical crime, New York has also witnessed riots and civilian uprisings in the past. As early as the 1860s, New York witnessed a series of disturbing riots and agitations. Historically New York has witnessed riots for many reasons including forced conscription into the army during the civil war.


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