We have been waiting for the great wheel of history to spin and for New York to become undesirable to outsiders again, thereby driving down rents and returning us to Fun City. Here may be a harbinger: the Post announces that “Overstretched cops are struggling to combat petty crime, according to police sources — resulting in an easing of enforcement that’s taking Manhattan down fast.” While NYPD crime statistics do not generally support this analysis, some crimes are ticking up, and the stats have ways of disguising actual crimes. So let’s look at the Post‘s anecdotal evidence:
“Guys are hanging out in the street, doing things they’re not supposed to be doing, loitering,” says a diner owner at 29th and First. “We’re scared to go outside,” says a nurse working near a men’s shelter by Bellevue. “You’re catching people urinating,” says a far East Village resident.
The Post claims a drop in quality-of-life enforcement as the cause; the NYPD says more q-of-l summonses are being handed out than in Giuliani time, and that they’re “now strategizing to reduce complaints specific to individual neighborhoods.” But can they head off a critical mass of squeegee men and public urinators before someone has to start making new Death Wish movies and we can move back to Manhattan?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 26, 2009