Crime Control: We Need to Learn from the Big Apple

The New York Times recently reported on the state of criminal activity in the Big Apple.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday that a city his opponents once said would grow more dangerous under his watch had, in fact, become even safer.

Robberies, considered the most telling indicator of street crime, are down 14 percent across New York City from last year. Grand larcenies — including the thefts of Apple devices that officials said drove an overall crime increase two years ago — are also down, by roughly 3 percent.

And after a record-low 335 homicides in 2013, the city has seen 290 killings in the first 11 months of this year, a number unheard-of two decades ago.

Indianapolis, by contrast, has had 130 murders through November 25th. In the 2010 census, Indianapolis had approximately 830, 000 residents; New York City has an estimated 8,500,000. In other words, we have not quite a tenth of the population, but nearly half as many homicides.

According to official reports, it isn’t just New York (although the Big Apple is among the leaders in the decline.) Homicide rates in cities all across the country are falling.

Ours aren’t. The question is: why?


  1. I must again return to my mugging and robbery on April 21st at 11:00 in the morning in my own driveway for my answer to your question. The Keystone Kops version of Indianapolis undercover surveilance somehow arrested the two responsible for attacking and robbing 4 old women in a two week time period. But…the identity (Mark Jones 47, Lindsey Jones 27), their address, financial difficulties and habits of the two were known a few hours after the second victim (90 years old) was attacked behind the wheel of her car in the drive through lane at Steak and Shake. They even missed the fourth victim being attacked while sitting a few feet from her car in the small MCL parking lot where she was attacked. This information is in the court documents and attached police report. Do not be deceived by their apprehension; they were charged with 4 counts of Robbery and 1 count of Fraud for using the last victim’s credit card. The second victim was injured and I was taken by ambulance to the ER with head and neck injuries; no Battery charges are being filed so no indication that Mark Jones has a propensity for violence. My two credit cards were used a total of eight times the day they were stolen yet no Fraud charges are filed. I don’t know about the first two victims regarding their possible loss and criminal use of credit cards. If all charges for the known crimes committed are not filed, this lessens the chance of conviction and length of sentencing for all criminals. It also guarantees early parole.

    The deputy prosecutor in charge of this case did not notify any of the victims or witnesses of the second court date continuance. My repeated E-mails to her, her direct supervisor and others, including Terry Curry, were ignored till they were sent to a higher ranking supervisor who responded immediately and scheduled a visit to my home with the deputy prosecutor’s direct supervisor. When I asked him why he didn’t respond to my E-mail, he stated he had forwarded it to the deputy prosecutor “to handle”; my E-mail was complaints about her incompetence. He was unaware of the fact that she mailed me a letter with an incorrect address and stated in the letter that the address was incorrect. The local mail carrier recognized my name and delivered the letter. He was unaware of the lack of notification of court date continuance to anyone, the fact that there was only 1 Fraud charge filed for all four victims or the incompetence of the undercover surveilance by IMPD because he had not read court documents or police report before coming to my home to interview me. He was unaware that the deputy prosecutor had never sent a release of information form to obtain my medical records from the ER or that she had requested I send copies of my copy. Courts only accept certified copies of any document. I repeated the deputy prosecutor’s “explanation” for the lack of charges; “the more charges we file, the more charges we have to prove.” He agreed with her explanation; my response was that is what our tax dollars pay them to do. His supervisor only observed the interview; I did watch her take the copies I had made for him out of his hand as they walked down my sidewalk. This was early in November and I have yet to receive any information from anyone about anything.

    I am still questioning the release of the man arrested this summer for murdering his second wife; he was free after serving less than half his sentence for murdering his first wife. How the hell can we hope to keep violent criminals off the streets of Indianapolis if criminals are not charged with their crimes and are released early to prey on all of us? We also have the lack of complete background checks on gun purchasers – I don’t belive there are any limitations on the purchase of “long guns” including military weapons. With the incompetence of legal protection regarding my case, which should be relatively simple, I have to ask why our crime rate isn’t higher, especially regarding murders.

  2. Want to reduce crime significantly? Stop the War on Some Drugs. Start treating chemical drug abuse as a public health problem, not a crime problem.

  3. What’s the unemployment stat’s for each city ?
    (BTW … Betty; I’m an Apostrophe freak)

    Usually, when unemployment is high, crime is also high.

  4. Murders come in different varieties:
    1.) There is Organized Crime “Hit” like the Mafia. This is a directed and planned Homicide against a specific individual.
    2.) Street Gang Homicides Turf Wars, which may well involve numerous people over a protracted length of time. The end result could be truce among the Gangs or the elimination of one of them.
    3.) A Robbery or another Crime, where the victim is killed.
    4.) The Domestic Dispute, where there is an availability of a weapon.
    5.) The macho Homicide, where some one decides they have been “Dissed” and retaliates with violence.
    There may be more reasons but these come to mind. Perhaps there also an ingrained belief that other people have no value and can be killed with out a second thought.
    One point though to make is the ready availability of Weapons in the USA in general. How many Legally purchased fire arms end up being sold to criminals, or people fronting for criminals???

    What seems obvious is the striking difference between the USA compared to Western Europe, and Japan among others is difference in homicides. Why are people in Japan so much safer from Homicides than people in Indianapolis???

  5. We often talk about “crime” as one thing when really it’s as diverse and varied as “people” are. But, less is better than more, clearly. Perhaps one of the reasons some locals are headed towards less is that police officers are also diverse but mostly, not exclusively, hard working competent well trained and equipped public servants.

    While I think that the thought about the war on drugs is right on, given the complexity of that problem and our utter failure to prevent those who consume them from damaging their lives, managing our treatment of that problem needs to be high on our priorities.

    So, New York has progress to report. Indie doesn’t. A learning opportunity if there ever was one.

    Let’s pretend a miracle. Tomorrow we get up and find a crime free America. Who would benefit? The wealthy? Hardly at all. The middle class? Some. The poor? Greatly. Urbans more than suburbans and rurals.

    Why then isn’t crime on the oligarchs lengthy agenda? It’s obvious. It’s only those who don’t deserve America preying on themselves. (Except for Bernie Madoff and the oligarchs were all over him.)

    I said the other day that accomplishment, even if it is merely wealth, is nearly equal parts what we are born with, what we were born into, and work, ours and others who contribute along our way. Some win and some loose that lottery. Society is improved by helping those who draw the short straw beat their odds. But those who do beat them are hard to convince to abandon democracy for oligarchy. A loss to the power to the powerful movement.

    (BTW, open season on my spelling and grammar. That’s why God invented editors.)

  6. Red George: So, you could knock off the apostrophe in stats. Capital letters are likely problematic to you and others, too. That’s OK. Really! English grammar and its rules drive most people crazy. I still enjoy your comments. I tend to read those comments which are brief and not much longer than Sheila’s blog entry.

    We’re a rather odd mixture of folks–a family of sorts. Sheila’s blog and the comments that follow are things which I think we all enjoy each day. Happy Holidays to you all!

  7. Speaking of crime rates. . .our region is certainly no better than the Indianapolis area. The noon and 5:00 PM news each and every day begin with “Breaking News” which is about a shooting, a stabbing, a violent rape, robbery or a carjacking. Kids seem to take guns to school with far too much frequency. Even the toy guns with the orange plastic tips are a threat, whether the tip is removed or not.

    We need to learn from successful locations about what might work in our city. Teachers need better training about weapons in schools. And disconnected parents certainly need to plug back in with their children to find out what is happening in their lives. Cell phones and the internet certainly have a strong influence with children. I often see families of three or four at dinner in restaurants, and every single member is plugged into (or texting on) some sort of device. That’s communication, but not with each other.

  8. Betty …

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
    Thanks for being a good sport.

    I think the apostrophe thing is my English upbringing ?

    Red George

  9. I don’t think we would do well to take lessons from NYC. First, I’m not sure the stats can be trusted. Second, the stop and frisk policy is generating a huge amount of anger in the populace.

    Some thoughts:
    Police are civilians. The dichotomy in language should only be used in “civilians and military personnel”. There has been much too much use of the term civilians as a label for people who are not serving as police officers. If police officers are not civilians with special responsibilities then they are an occupying military force.
    Decriminalizing some currently illegal substances would help.
    Real jobs would help.
    Demonstration of integrity and morality on an ongoing continuing basis on the part of police and city and state officials would help. When the leadership is corrupt the rest of the citizenry loses respect for integrity and morality. Here let me provide a background example. There was a time when individual bankruptcy was considered a shame and was fairly uncommon. Then businesses at all levels discovered how to profit from serial bankruptcies. After a while individuals began to think “If the furniture company can do it so can I.” Then, of course, the bankruptcy laws had to be changed so that only business could do that.
    When leadership and those who have the high profile similar to leadership show disrespect for people it can be contagious.

  10. Is there a possible relationship between tax revenues and the murder rates? If it became somehow possible for Indiana and Indianapolis to drop the rhetoric about the budget surplus, stop selling the idea that the city and the state can’t afford to provide services to people who don’t deserve them, belly up and recognize that controlling crime promotes the public good and is a function of good government, we might actually have an opportunity to reduce crime. The way it usually plays out is we given the choice to reduce crime by hiring more police, but we have to sacrifice something else to offset the expense. Taxes are characterized like Ebola and as a result, we have the well-documented problems with crime, education, infrastructure, etc.

  11. Thanks, Red George!

    Best to you and all these other great folks for some wonderful holidays with family, friends, and loved ones!

  12. I have to add my own grumblings to JoAnn’s. It’s most unfortunate when avoidable errors compound problems faced by the prosecutor’s office, the courts , jails and IMPD due to a lack of resources from underfunding. The heroin addictions of residents in one particular small indy neighborhood were the source of many home burglaries, robberies, murders, and overdose deaths. After committing a year of IMPD resources to undercover work, the known heroin dealers in the area were arrested during a “buy”. One arrested dealer, with a lengthy list of priors, including felonies, had her bond reduced to where, within days of arrest, her heroin addicted son in law could secure her release for $500.00. She’s back dealing in the neighborhood until her January trial date. Prosecutors are burdened by heavy case loads which lead to mistakes or regrettable deals because they don’t have time to consider possible implications of each decision made. Full jails and court dockets lead to lowered bonds. There’s never enough money, but chronic underfunding in these critical public safety areas means we’ll always lead from behind.

  13. Oooooops sorry about that. copy and paste did not do what i wanted. I was trying to share an article about Richmond CA police chief Chris Magnus standing with the protesters and about how he has reduced both crime and police violence there.

  14. I received an E-mail from my cousin a short while ago telling me her 25 year old granddaughter, Brooke Brown, was murdered last week. Her body was found in her car in Chapel Hill shopping center. So now my family is on the ever growing list of murders in this city. I don’t know what number Brooke is on the Indianapolis roster of the dead but it breaks my heart to know through my own experience in the Indianapolis legal system that I have little faith in resolving her murder. Believe it or not, fellow commenters, I am out of words.

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