|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Re: [Hangout-NYLXS] The fascinating case of Bernie Goetz
New York Killings Set a Record, While Other Crimes Fell in 1990
By GEORGE JAMES
Published: April 23, 1991
The number of murders in New York City rose to a record high in 1990,
but reports of assault declined. Car theft and robbery increased
sharply, but burglary and larceny dropped.
That variegated picture of crimes reported to the New York City police
emerged yesterday as officials released crime statistics for 1990. The
figures cover a year when crime, and the fear of crime, stirred a gale
of civic soul-searching and propelled a thousand new police officers
onto the streets.
The net result of these seemingly contradictory trends: The total number
of crimes reported to the police fell slightly in 1990, for the second
year in a row. But the decrease amounted to just 0.3 percent, compared
with 0.8 percent the year before.
Murders surged 17.8 percent from 1989. Robberies -- generally considered
a barometer of street violence -- rose 7.4 percent from the previous
year, and motor-vehicle thefts were up 9.9 percent from 1989. Police
Commissioner Lee P. Brown attributed these increases to the "twin evils"
of drugs and guns. Puzzling Dichotomy
But he and other police officials were unable to say why the figures
showed declines in three other crime categories that often go hand in
hand with drugs: aggravated assault, down 2.9 percent; burglary, down
1.1 percent, and larceny, down 6.6 percent. Reports of rape also
declined, by 3.9 percent.
"There are so many factors with crime, that it's really hard to give one
answer," Deputy Chief Michael A. Markman said.
Experts outside the Police Department also said it was difficult to
account for the difference in trends from one category to another. Ken
Lenihan, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in
Manhattan, called the murder figure "an aberration."
"It's unusual that murder should jump by that much and rapes and
assaults not follow," he said, adding that the declines in rape and
assault mirrored his perception of the level of violence in the city
***Richard Uviller, a professor at the Columbia University School of
Law, said, "These numbers are based on reported crimes, and reports in
categories like burglary, for example, are not the best reflection of
the actual rate of crime.
"Many people do not report crimes because they don't expect the police
to be able to do anything about it, and I'm sure that burglaries or
larcenies or petty assaults are in that category. So it's very hard to
know what the actual incidence of crime is."****
Deputy Chief Markman, commander of the Office of Management Analysis and
Planning, said that murder and robbery were up nationwide. But he added,
"The increase in New York City is moving at a slower pace than the rest
of the state and the rest of the nation."
A total of 2,245 people were killed last year, compared with 1,905 in
1989, for an increase of 17.8 percent. Commissioner Brown noted that if
the deaths of 87 victims in the Happy Land Social Club arson fire in
March were excluded, the increase in murder and non-negligent
manslaughter would be 13.3 percent.
There were 93,377 robberies in 1989 and 100,280 in 1990, the third-worst
year ever for robberies. The high was 107,495 in 1981.
Motor-vehicle theft also continued a dramatic upward trend, with a
record 147,123 vehicles stolen in 1990, compared with 133,861 in 1989.
Sophisticated Car Thieves
Edward Shaughnessy, a sociologist at John Jay, said he was not surprised
by the auto-theft figures. "They've gotten much more sophisticated," he
said of car thieves. "They don't bother to break into a car -- they tow
it away on a long, flatbed truck. That shows there's a more organized
level of sophistication. It's become more business-oriented, not like
paying kids a thousand-dollar fee to steal a car."
***He said the increase in homicides reflected a surge in seemingly
random violence, with innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of
drug dealers' turf wars. As for why robberies declined, he said: "People
are alert, more frightened. They may not be walking the streets as much.
They're more sensitized and careful."***
Deputy Chief Markman pointed out, however, that in 72 percent of the
murders, the victim and assailant knew each other. About 11 percent of
the murders occurred among family members.
Thomas Reppetto, executive director of the Citizens Crime Commission, a
private watchdog agency that monitors crime and criminal justice, said
that as bad as the increase in murders was, it was not unexpected. A
spate of shooting deaths of young people and the death of a tourist from
Utah who was stabbed while defending his mother against muggers in a
Manhattan subway station galvanized both public fears and efforts to put
more officers on the street.
Deputy Chief Markman attributed the increase in homicides to the easy
accessibility of firearms, in 1990 as well as in the late 1980's. He
said that in 1960, handguns were used in 19 percent of the murders. By
1970 they figured in 48 percent of the murders and in 1980, 56 percent.
Last year, handguns were used in 69 percent of the murders, he said.
Drug-related homicides appear to have fallen, he said. In 1987 drugs
were a factor in 38.5 percent of the murders reported. But in 1990,
drugs played a role in only 25.7 percent.
There were 99 murder victims under 16 years of age in 1990, 39 of them
shot to death, the police said. Twenty-two bystanders were killed in
1990 by bullets intended for someone else, 10 of them under age 15.
Happy Land Deaths
The 87 deaths in the fire at the Happy Land social club in the Bronx
made the 48th Precinct No. 1 in the city with 137 murders, an increase
of 191.5 percent over the 47 murders committed in that precinct in 1989.
The 75th Precinct, which includes the East New York section of Brooklyn,
was second last year, with 109 murders, a 12.4 percent increase from the
97 recorded there in 1989.
Commissioner Brown and others said that a larger and more visible police
presence has helped to deter crime in some neighborhoods. As a response
to murders and other violent crimes last summer, the police funneled 400
officers into seven high-crime precincts in a plan called Operation Take
Graph: "Deadly Totals" shows number of reported cases of murder and
non-negligent manslaughter in New York City from '77-'90. (Sources: New
York City Police Department; F.B.I. Uniform Crime Reports) (pg. A1)
Chart: "Crime Rate in New York City" shows number of reported felonies
by police precincts in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten
Island in 1989 and 1990. (Source: New York City Police Department) (pg. B4)
So many immigrant groups have swept through our town
that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological
proportions in the mind of the world - RI Safir 1998
DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002
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