Homicides drop to an all-time low in the city of New York

According to an estimate report published by the Brennan Centre for Justice, homicides in the city of New York were below three hundred in 2017 (between 273 and 286, according to sources). If we bear in mind that in 1990 2,245 were recorded, the drop is surprising and the figures are the lowest since the 1950s,[1] after a slight rise during the two previous years, which was particularly due to the situation in certain cities, of which Chicago and Baltimore are the most noteworthy.[2]The homicide rate is 3.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, a figure which is decidedly low for the United States.

In general, in New York crime as a whole has gone down by 3.3% compared with the previous year, and violent crime has gone down by 7.4%.[3] This downward trend is noted all over the country with a drop of 1.8% regarding global crime, at its second lowest point since 1990. Violent crime is down 0.6%, particularly thanks to Chicago’s stabilisation (the figures of which are still worrying, with over 750 homicides) and Washington D.C. As cities with homicide rates which continue to rise, the cases of Baltimore (375)¾which leads the violent crime ranking, followed very closely by Memphis¾and of Philadelphia(from 271 to 291) must be noted, where the results of the famous 2009[4] experiment would appear to have failed completely. In the country globally, it is forecast that homicides will see a drop of 2.5%, especially due to the drop predicted in Detroit (25.6%), Houston (20.5%) and New York (19.1%).

Although the fall in crime seems evident, this does not apply to the underlying reasons. A hard line (zero tolerance) policy had often been resorted to, applied by many police forces (quite emblematically by the New York force in the 1990s) to justify this halt in crime. However, over recent years the number of arrests and the use of force by most police forces has notably gone down (especially in New York, which now boasts a community police force), with a more moderate use of firearms and an increase in the use of less lethal weapons, and figures continue to fall. The New York police force has opted for a strategy which focuses on criminals who are potentially more dangerous, and at the same time having a closer relationship with the community, in order to generate trust and security. Criminology, however, is not at all unanimous when accepting this argument as an only cause for the continued drop in crime.

[1] Vid. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/27/nyregion/new-york-city-crime-2017.html

[2] Vid. https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/city-graphs-crime-2017-preliminary-analysis

[3] Vid. https://www.brennancenter.org/publication/crime-2017-preliminary-analysis

[4] Vid. http://www.cla.temple.edu/cj/files/2015/11/PFPE_research_summary.pdf

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