Statistics show crime up in New York City

April 5, 2010 3:44:44 PM PDT
Monday morning's Midtown melee is the latest in several recent high-profile crimes. And statistics show crime this year is up at a time when the NYPD is looking at cutting the force to save money. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday that the percentage increases appear big because the numbers are so low. He gave the example that if you have 50 murders, and you go up by five, that's a 10 percent hike.

The mayor is correct, but there's more to it than just that. And after years of seeing crime plummet in New York City, the question now is are things starting to go the other way?

New York is still considered the safest big city in America, but there is new worry and some unusually violent crime lately.

A suspect was recently arrested in the fatal stabbing of two men on the subway, and another is charged with beating a woman in a club after she refused to dance. Then, there is the mini-crime wave in Midtown.

"The mayhem in Midtown appears to be a bunch of gang members wilding, and it certainly has nothing to do with terrorism or anything else," Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg found himself on the defensive, admitting police have deployed some anti-terror cops to fight neighborhood crime where lately it has spiked. He said that re-deployment is not unusual.

But murders have shot up 22 percent over the same period last year. The number of rapes is up more than 11 percent. Felony assault is also up about 6 percent.

Dwight Campbell was pick-pocketed on the subway recently.

"I've lived in New York my whole life and I've seen crime go up and I've seen it go down," he said. "I think we're relatively safe in comparison to years ago."

Others had no idea that crime has inched up.

"I was surprised because I thought everything had gone down," Teri Sheridan said. "And I usually keep up with the news pretty good."

What is worrisome is whether we might be in the midst of a crime spurt, right as the police department shrinks dramatically.

Ten years ago, the city had more than 40,000 cops. Today, it's down to 35,000.

In the mayor's budget, it could go to less than 33,000.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the cuts are not a done deal, and she sounded a lot like the mayor - yes there's concern about crime, but not to worry, yet.

"I don't take the situation lightly," she said. "I'm not cavalier about it. But I also think it's important for people not to panic or over-react."

Public Safety Committee chairman Peter Vallone said he is angry and worried about cutting police while crime goes up. This will be a big budget fight at City Hall between now and July 1.