A Tale of Two Cities: New York and Chicago
by

Earlier this month, New York and Chicago released their crime statistics. It is alarming that, in 2016, Chicago (762) had twice as many murders as New York (334).

In 2016, there were 3,550 shooting incidents in Chicago. This was over 1,100 more shootings than in 2015. In contrast, New York had a total of 998 shootings in 2016.

This is remarkable considering that New York’s population in 2015 (8,550,405) was three times the population of Chicago (2,720,546). New York was not always so safe.

In fact, Chicago’s crime rate reminds me of New York in 1990 when murders peaked (2,245 murders). By 2014, the number of homicides dropped to 333 people murdered. The number of all crimes dropped from 527,257 crimes in 1990 to 106,722 in 2014.

The real questions are can Chicago reduce crime the way New York did in the 1990s and can New York continue to reduce crime even further. The election of Rudy Giuliani in 1993 proves that the right mayor and police chief can reduce crime. Whether New York can build on its progress is a more challenging question.

Before Giuliani, New York City crime rates were higher than the national average. After Giuliani, it went below the national average.

Crime went down in New York City during Giuliani’s tenure because Giuliani instituted the “Broken Windows” theory and the CompStat system. The “Broken Windows” theory originated from a 1982 article co-written by political scientist James Q. Wilson and criminologist George Kelling.

The idea is that if the police are tougher on people who commit small crimes, like breaking a window, the people won’t even think of committing greater crimes. Before Giuliani, the idea was to focus on major crimes and be more accepting of smaller crimes like public urination in subway.

The CompStat system functioned as a map for where crimes were occurring. Putting police in the right areas helped bring crime down. There were also other factors beyond the mayor’s control.

From 1980 to 2008, the number of Americans in prison increased from 500,000 to 2.3 million. There is some debate as to how much this helped, and there is potential for reaching the point of diminishing returns, but it is logical to conclude that one way to reduce crime is to lock up more criminals.

This could partly explain why there are differences in crime rates between Chicago and New York. In Chicago, a person caught possessing an illegal gun will only get a minimum sentence of one-year in prison. In New York, the number is three years in prison. What would the people of Chicago have to lose by implementing the New York standard?

There are other factors of course that can explain the reductions in crime. Some liberals will argue that it was economic growth of the 1990s that helped reduce crime, but this theory is not convincing since crime continued to decline in New York even after the Great Recession.

Others have pushed demographic arguments. If you look at the Age-Specific Arrest rates, you will find that men commit far more crime than women do, and that the most crime committed is when men are teenagers. After men reach their 25th birthday, the crime rate goes down with each passing year.

As Americans are getting older, and having fewer children, this could in part explain the reduction in crime. Nobody commits less crime than senior citizens. Other researchers have been able to link crime to the rise of out-of-wedlock births as well.

The problems unique to Chicago also include a history of gang violence that dwarfs other cities. In Chicago, there are 12,000 cops and an estimated 100,000 gang members. In 2011, gang members were responsible for 61 percent of the murders in Chicago.

In 2016, the police said the increase in murders was partly explained by the fighting between the gangs in the South Side and West Side neighborhoods. The lack of trust between the police and the black community of Chicago reached a new low with the death of Laquan McDonald in 2014, and other subsequent police shootings.

In response to the McDonald shooting, the Chicago City Council approved a settlement of five million dollars in exchange for the video not being made public until after the investigation was complete. This was shortly after Mayor Rahm Emanuel won a second term as Mayor of Chicago.

Having police work with the community is important, but there must also be an understanding that the police should not have their hands tied in any way to reduce crime as low as possible.

President John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural that “we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” In the same spirit, Rudy Giuliani gave that same maximum effort to fighting crime.

Today in New York and Chicago, neither Bill de Blasio nor Rahm Emanuel, has been willing to unleash the cops to do their best to reduce crime. These two Democratic mayors would rather accept the common liberal nonsense that the police are a bigger problem than the criminals themselves.

In Chicago, we may need to bring in the National Guard to restore order if Chicago continues to get worse. In New York, the big question is can crime be reduced further.

The current NYC mayor, Bill de Blasio, has made it clear that he will not give it his best effort to reduce crime. He ran his 2013 campaign by telling people that he would end the practice of “stop and frisk.” He also used his son, Dante, in a campaign commercial that was very anti-police.

Bill de Blasio and his family live in Park Slope, which is a very wealthy neighborhood in Brooklyn. Many actors, musicians, and liberal politicians live in this neighborhood while pretending to care for the poor.

Poor people live in neighborhoods where they need police officers who will not hesitate to do their job. The majority of people in Park Slope don’t worry about their family members coming home at night. Thousands of New Yorkers can go home to their families because the police have brought down the annual homicides in New York City.

Preventing murders isn’t just about comparing numbers from this year to last year. We should judge our leaders also by whether they are making the best effort to help the police do their job. In both New York and Chicago, we have two mayors who are not trying their best. Two great American cities deserve better.

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