Gotham Gazette

November 17, 2002

Safe City?

Major crime in New York City is at a 40 year low and continues to fall. Last year, 570 people were murdered, compared to 2,245 in 1990. But according to a CBS/New York Times poll nearly a third of New Yorkers feel the city is "less safe" than it was four years ago. In August 2001, only 12 percent of those surveyed felt the city was growing more dangerous.

Although most still feel the city is safe, the disparity between the statistics and the perception that crime is on the rise is frustrating to lawmakers and police officials. Fears may be rooted in several factors, according to analysis of the survey, including post 9/11 anxiety, concern about the faltering economy, and lack of faith in the new mayoral administration.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has reminded New Yorkers that crime has continued to go down since he took office. And he has tried to reassure residents that the city's budget crisis will not lead to higher crime rates. However, the mayor's new budget plan, which aims to close a $6 billion deficit, would reduce the number of police officers to 37,210, the lowest level in years. "The police commissioner's judgment is, that with the cuts we have proposed, he can continue to keep the streets safe," the mayor said.