If you live in New York City and ride the subways, walk the streets and look around, you often feel a sense of elation about how, for the most part, this jumble of millions manages to get along.
I grew up here. I lived and worked here in the bad-old 1980’s, when you felt scared and had reason to worry about someone attacking you on the subway or the street. But that was then. Since 1993 we have seen a steady decline in crime and fear.
That’s why Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his Justice Department seem incredibly misinformed about the state of crime in the nation’s most exciting and diverse city.
The out-of-touch Justice Department under Sessions and his boss Donald Trump sent a letter to New York and other jurisdictions considered “sanctuary cities” that threatens to withhold Justice Department funding if they don’t comply with orders to turn over information about undocumented immigrants.
This letter said, in part, “New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime'” stance.
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill reacted swiftly and angrily.
The mayor called it an “unacceptable statement that denigrates the people of New York and the men and women of the NYPD.” He called it “. . . an outrageous statement that ignores a quarter-century of progress in this city in bringing down crime.
He went on to say, “We just had the safest three months in the history of New York City – that didn’t happen by being soft on crime.”
NYPD Commissioner O’Neill was even angrier. He said, “. . . when I read that statement by DOJ this afternoon, my blood began to boil.” He pointed out that since 1993 overall crime is down 76 percent. In 2017, murders and shootings are down.
He said, “This is really insulting. Look at not only the hard work of the NYPD . . . What about the federal agencies? What about the FBI? The ATF? The DEA? The US Marshal Service? — the hard work they do every day.”
He pointed out that NYPD officers make sacrifices.
The commissioner said, “Cops are hurt every day. Cops are killed in the line of duty. This is insulting to the memory of Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo, Randolph Holder, Brian Moore, Joe Liu, Rafael Ramos. I find this statement to be absolutely outrageous.”