QUESTIONS ON CRIME
The use of selective and outdated crime statistics in Adamma Ince's "Double Dutch in a War Zone" [November 26-December 2], did a disservice to Village Voice readers.
In an attempt to prove that violence is "rampant" in some communities, she writes, "[I]n the 77th Precinct, Crown Heights, crime dropped 6 percentbut murder in September alone spiked 400 percent over the same period last year."
What she failed to explain to readers is that the dramatic-sounding "400 percent" represented an increase of four homicides and that the year-to-date crime statistics show the murder rate has not risen at all in the 77th Precinct, but remains even with last year's 14 homicides.
Ince also failed to mention the remarkable gains in inner-city crime fighting. For example, the overall crime rate in the 77th Precinct has dropped 70 percent in the last 10 years, while murders fell 80 percent. Similar declines are common throughout the inner city, but perhaps Ince knew that by including a broad perspective she would have defeated her own argument.
In a city of 8 million people there will always be crime, and some of those crimes will be tragic and heartbreaking. The recent murder of eight-year-old Deasean Hill is an example. Ince is correct in pointing out that headlines touting lower crime statistics offer no consolation to grieving mothers. What is importantespecially for an objective journalistis to cut through the emotion and play it straight with readers.
Consider the following:
New York City's crime rate is at its lowest level since at least 1968.
The city's homicide rate is at its lowest since 1963.
Crime citywide, including the inner city, has plunged in the last decade.
The question is not, Are inner-city neighborhoods getting more dangerous? but rather, When was the last time they were this safe? The answer isnot in nearly four decades.
Ince also states as fact without any supporting evidence that "Bloomberg dismantled the Street Crime Unit. Crime came back." In fact, crime has only fallen since the SCU was dismantled, and there are fewer murders and shootings today than when the unit was at its peak.
The decision to open a special gun court in Brooklyn was not in reaction to an increase in crime, as Ince would have the reader believe, but rather it was an attempt to improve on past success and drive crime even lower.
Finally, Ince's line "Benjamin Ward, the city's first and only African American police commissioner" must have come as a shock to Lee Brown, the city's second African American police commissioner.
Deputy Commissioner, Public Information
New York City Police Department
Adamma Ince replies: Thank you for pointing out my Lee Brown blunderhow I could forget my favorite police commissioner is baffling to say the least. However, I stand behind my article on the Black-on-Black violence that continues to plague many communities throughout the city, as well as the statistics which were made available by helpful officers from various city precincts and the public information office. My repeated reference to the overall drop in crime and the high level of safety that most New Yorkers now enjoy compliments of the hard work of the NYPD speaks for itself.
In a city of 8 million people, safety is in the eye of the beholder. My article was intended to voice the concerns of those residents whose neighborhoods are not as safe as others but deserve to be. At the time of the creation of the special gun court it was widely reported that Mayor Bloomberg himself sympathized with those residents. "Some neighborhoods are still suffering from gun violence on an all too regular basis," he said. "The people who live in these precincts are more than three times [more] likely to be shooting victims than all New Yorkers overall. That is unacceptable."
For Black youth who were not around four decades ago to witness crime at its peak, the only question is, when will the violence stop?
Ohmuhgawd: Your Ward Sutton cartoons are just the best.
I am rolling on the floor laughing at the Rush Limbaugh products and can't wait to check out some of the others. With all the harshness of politics these days, I am so thrilled to find that someone is sane and can find the humor in it all. Thank you for making me laugh, and give Ward Sutton a raise.
San Diego, California
THE RIGHT TO LIVE
Re Nat Hentoff's "A Woman's Life Versus an Inept Press" [November 5-11]:
Thank you for providing coverage of two of the most important issues facing the disability community today: the right to receive proper treatment and the right to live. As a person with a mental illness I face inequitable insurance coverage every time I see my psychiatrist, which is why Timothy's Law is an important piece of legislation. For all people with disabilities, the continuing war on our quality of life is a severe and pressing issue, and I believe that the right decision was made to allow Terri Schiavo to continue to live in peace.
Please continue to cover issues important to the disability community as you have with all human rights issues.
Thanks to Nat Hentoff for keeping the Terri Schiavo case in front of the public. This case stinks to high heaven and I'm confident that this investigation will turn the tables on "hubby dearest." Let's hope the truth comes out before he has a chance to kill her with the state's blessing and cremate the evidence against him!
THE CRANK FACTOR
Re James Ridgeway's "Rummy Reinterprets the War on Terror" [villagevoice.com, October 23]:
Thanks for raising the question, Who's the bigger crank? Is it Rumsfeld or Ashcroft? My money's on Ashcroft, who is in total denial, as opposed to Rummy, who dared to say something could possibly be wrong.
Congratulations to Chanel Lee, who has won first place in the New York Association of Black Journalists General Feature Award for newspapers with a circulation over 150,000 for her piece "Homos 101: Premier Black College Is a Study in Anti-Gay Discrimination" [August 13-19].
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