Friday, November 23, 2007

New York City Homicides Still Dropping, to Under 500

"New York City is on track to have fewer than 500 homicides this year, by far the lowest number in a 12-month period since reliable Police Department statistics became available in 1963.

But within the city’s official crime statistics is a figure that may be even more striking: so far, with roughly half the killings analyzed, only 35 were found to be committed by strangers, a microscopic statistic in a city of more than 8.2 million.

If that trend holds up, fewer than 100 homicide victims in New York City this year will have been strangers to their assailants. The vast majority died in disputes with friends or acquaintances, with rival drug gang members or — to a far lesser degree — with romantic partners, spouses, parents and others.

The low number of killings by strangers belies the common imagery that New Yorkers are vulnerable to arbitrary attacks on the streets, or die in robberies that turn fatal.

In the eyes of some criminologists, the police will be hard pressed to drive the killing rate much lower, since most killings occur now within the four walls of an apartment or the confines of close relationships."

Enter the egghead...

It is extremely common around the nation to find in killings involving acquaintances that those involved are not family members but criminals or drug gang members, said David M. Kennedy, the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.

In the 412 killings this year, the number of people with previous arrests for narcotics was striking: 196 victims and 149 assailants. And 77 percent of the assailants had a previous arrest history, while 70 percent of the victims did, the statistics showed.

Killers and those killed are overwhelmingly male and most in both categories are between 18 and 40, according to the police analysis. In terms of race and ethnicity, whites make up 7 percent of victims and assailants, while 66 percent of the victims and 61 percent of the assailants are black and 26 percent of the victims and 31 percent of the assailants are Hispanic.

When told about the low homicide numbers, Dr. Manning uttered a single word: “Wow.”

Mr. Kennedy said, “What this shows is that the N.Y.P.D. — and whatever else is going on in New York — has managed to squeeze the problem of active offenders against active offenders down to a remarkably, historically low level.”

Those with the means to do so have surrounded themselves with private security systems. Those who cannot, have moved from or refuse to enter high crime areas. Entire neighborhoods were therefore surrendered to the criminal element. The Giuliani legacy lives on, in that no crime is too picayune to investigate. Criminals and sociopaths are aware of this, and know that they'll stand out like a sore thumb in certain parts of the city so they prey upon their own kind who also have become more savvy. This is why most murders occur behind closed doors, as the onetime victims of stranger-murders have become so very aware of where NOT to be.

Make no mistake; this could be considered an anomaly due to the fact that NY has no death penalty to stand as a deterrent. In this instance at least, nature has taken its course and the potential victims have thwarted the politician's desire to see them dead. Hard to call for ever more draconian gun laws when the murder rate is in decline, but it sure hasn't stopped Mayor Bloomberg.

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