New York Daily News

Updated: June 6, 2015, 3:26 AM

  

 

Chirlane McCray recalls a rosier than real 1977 New York City while de Blasio insists less stop-and-frisks makes city safer

BY JENNIFER FERMINO, ROCCO PARASCANDOLA, LARRY MCSHANE

ANDREW HINDERAKER/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Chirlane McCray, while urging tougher rent hike regulations, wistfully recalled on NY1 her arrival in the reeling city during the Abe Beame administration.

It was the year of the blackout and bloodthirsty Son of Sam, the South Bronx was burning and subway cars were slathered in graffiti.

Or as Mayor de Blasio and his wife Chirlane recall 1977, the good old days.

Police investigated 1,557 homicides that year — in the midst of a decade where New York City’s population dipped by 10%, as residents fled for safer climes.

Chirlane McCray, while urging tougher rent hike regulations, wistfully recalled on NY1 her arrival in the reeling city during the Abe Beame administration.

And her husband, after defending his spouse, reiterated Friday that the reduction of stop-and-frisk had zero correlation with this year’s increase in murders and shootings.

“As we have reduced stops, we have reduced crime,” the mayor said during a live radio appearance Friday. “I think the numbers are overwhelmingly clear.

“To me, this has actually been a great ratification of the fact that we can protect individual liberties while making ourselves safer.”

The Daily News reported exclusively that the city is on pace to make 42% fewer stops this year as homicides are up almost 20%.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch said pro-active policing remained a critical tool in the NYPD’s battle against gun violence.

“If the city is serious about getting guns out of neighborhoods, they need to add thousands of police officers trained in the art of spotting individuals carrying illegal weapons,” Lynch said.

“And they’ll have to stop second-guessing them when a stop doesn’t produce a weapon.”

McCray offered her rosy recollections of the late ’70s, when she came to New York from Springfield, Mass.

“The city was strong,” she said. “The city was inclusive and dynamic. We want the city to stay that way.”

The city was, in fact, a mess in the last year of one-term Mayor Beame’s administration.

“I lived in New York City in 1977, and my car was broken into twice,” recalled former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “The city was considered a basket case in 1977.”

George Arzt, a City Hall reporter who later worked for Mayor Ed Koch, echoed Giuliani’s assessment.

“Obviously, 1977 wasn’t a great year,” said Arzt.

“The city was running a deeply austere budget. We had to cut back on cops, uniformed services, parks, other services. There were all kinds of calamities, blackouts, snowstorms.”

De Blasio, asked if his wife’s pining for 1977 was a gaffe, said she was referring to the amount of affordable housing available at the time.

“I think she has no illusions about how tough things were in this city in 1977,” the mayor said. “But she made a really powerful point: Until recently, good times and bad, you could find (an affordable) place to live.

“I think what my wife was saying was those were not ideal times, but at least you could find a place you could afford to live.”

City Hall press secretary Karen Hinton said any other interpretation of the First Lady’s remarks was “misleading and inappropriate.”

Giuliani gave McCray a pass: “I don’t believe it’s fair to criticize her, because I don’t know if she’s aware of those facts.”

De Blasio defended the city against an uptick in subway crime, saying key statistics show the city has largely kept riders safer than in the past.

De Blasio countered News reports that felony assaults had increased 26.9%, from 78 to 99, in the first five months of 2015 as opposed to last year.

The rise in attacks, as The News reported, has transit unit cops working overtime to control the situation.

“Well, the Daily News, with all due respect to them, really was very misleading to the people of this city,” de Blasio said.

With a daily subway ridership of 5.7 million, the average straphanger “has about a one in a million chance of being a victim of crime,” he noted.

Police stops in the subway were down even more dramatically than on the city streets, according to numbers uncovered by The News.

TODD MAISEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Bill de Blasio, after defending his spouse, reiterated Friday that the reduction of stop-and-frisk had zero correlation with this year’s increase in murders and shootings.

So far this year, cops have made 503 subway stops — down 47.4% from the same period last year and a stunning 95.4% from 2013, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s final year in office.

Arrests for fare evasion were down 17.3%, and summonses for the same offense dropped 19.3% in the first five months of 2015 compared to last year.

While some police officials have said that criminals are emboldened and cops somewhat neutralized by the demise of stop-and-frisk, de Blasio flatly disagreed with the assessment.

BRYAN R. SMITH/BRYAN R. SMITH
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch said pro-active policing remained a critical tool in the NYPD’s battle against gun violence.

His first year in City Hall produced “the best year for crime decrease in recent memory” and the “lowest year for murder in half a century,” the mayor said.

Last year’s homicide total was 333 — the fourth straight year of declining numbers.

De Blasio heaped praise on NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, who wants additional cops on the force — a wish that went unfunded by the mayor.

“I think Bill Bratton is the finest police leader in this country,” de Blasio declared. “And one of the first things he said to this city, when I named him, was ‘You can’t break the law to enforce the law. The Constitution is sacred.’ ”

Next week, the city unveils its Summer All Out initiative to keep the peace as the temperatures rise. Four housing commands, covering neighborhoods in north Brooklyn, the East Bronx and the South Bronx, are part of the program.

Last year, All Out produced a 26% reduction in shooting victims in the precincts targeted by the NYPD. This year’s version will start one month earlier than the 2014 incarnation.

The NYPD’s Overtime Violence Reduction program will also move more cops into the busier shifts: 4 p.m.-midnight and midnight-8 a.m. during the summer months.

With Celeste Katz

jfermino@nydailynews.com