Updated Dec 24, 2016
By MARK TOOR
A new poll by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association found that nearly half the city’s residents don’t believe statistics showing that crime is continuing to decline here.
The survey, released Nov. 28, said that 48 percent of respondents agreed with this statement: “Statistics that show decreased crime in New York City are false. They do not match up with my own experience or the experience of people I know. I am seeing and hearing about more crime and disorder than in the past.”
42 Percent Feel Safer
That compared with 42 percent who agreed that “statistics that show crime decreasing in New York City are correct and the city is becoming more safe.”
The response of those who maintain the statistics are not accurate seemed puzzling because just 14 percent of the 500 respondents said crime/violence was the city’s biggest problem. Crime/violence came in second beyond affordable housing (18 percent) and ahead of homelessness, local politicians/policies and cost of living/income inequality (8 percent each), as well as safety/education/health-care (7 percent).
However, in a Marist poll released Nov. 17, 86 percent said crime was a very-serious or somewhat-serious problem.
The response on the truth of crime stats could be seen as a rebuke of Mayor de Blasio, whom the PBA has cast as its enemy on a number of issues, including pay rates that are low compared with those of other area police departments.
Monthly Crime Updates
For more than a year, Mr. de Blasio and the Police Commissioner, first William J. Bratton and since his retirement in September, James P. O’Neill, have held press conferences at the beginning of each month reporting figures that show index crimes—murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft—as well as non-fatal shootings have continued on the downward trend that prevailed during the administrations of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani.
A source in the PBA said the poll result indicates “the perception among New Yorkers is that the public-safety environment in New York City is sharply declining…Our city leaders have a responsibility to determine why this disconnect exists, and what must be done to fix it.”
A spokesman for Mr. de Blasio, Austin Finan, responded in an email, “It’s a Republican poll that suspiciously omits the real story: crime’s at an all-time low and this year we’re on pace to record the fewest murders and shootings in city history. You can’t fake that, and we have absolute trust in the NYPD’s performance standards and measurements.”
The poll found other problems with Mr. de Blasio’s mayoralty, with 48 percent saying the city is on the wrong track as opposed to 37 percent saying it is moving in the right direction.
Forty-two percent said overall quality of life in the city was getting worse. They cited aggressive panhandling and begging (50 percent); personal safety on public transit (35 percent); public urination, intoxication and disorderly conduct (38 percent); and safety in the parks (30 percent).
The poll also showed positive attitudes toward the NYPD, with 74 percent approving of the job it is doing and 76 percent favorable toward its officers.
“The results of this survey prove that New Yorkers overwhelmingly support their police officers and the work we do, but they’re still concerned about the public-safety environment,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement.
“The job has become increasingly difficult and dangerous, yet even more critical for our city, and we need the Mayor to come to the table and support us—with a market rate of pay and a fair disability benefit—so that we can continue to make this city a better place to live, work and raise our families.”
Beef Pre-Dates Mayor
The complaint about the disability benefit goes back to 2009, when then-Gov. David Paterson vetoed a measure that was regularly renewed that put new uniformed employees in a pension tier providing an allowance for a career-ending disability amounting to three-quarters salary, free of state and local taxes.
The veto saddled cops, firefighters, Correction Officers and Sanitation Workers hired from 2010 forward with job-related disability pensions worth 50 percent of final average salary, minus any Social Security payments and subject to all taxes.
Contract deals Mr. de Blasio reached with Firefighter, Correction Officer and Sanitation Worker unions restored the old benefits in return for higher pension contributions by newer workers. But the PBA, which previously went to arbitration in an unsuccessful attempt to break Mr. de Blasio’s uniformed pattern of 11-percent raises over seven years, rejected the city’s demand for an additional salary contribution of 1.5 percent in exchange for the better benefit as too expensive.
In terms of headcount, Mr. de Blasio said in October that the additional 2,000 officers included in this year’s budget will be on the streets by January. Seventy percent of respondents said they would like to see more cops in their neighborhoods.