From WoD Gothamcrack epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s, New York City was ranked 197th in crime among 216 US cities with populations greater than 100,000 by 2002. Violent crime in New York City decreased more than 75% from 1993 to 2005 and continued decreasing during periods when the nation as a whole saw increases. In 2005 the homicide rate was at its lowest level since 1966, and in 2007 the city recorded fewer than 500 homicides for the first time ever since crime statistics were first published in 1963.
Many experts have been puzzled as to the reason for this sharp decline in crime. Some attribute it to new tactics and technology employed by the New York City Police Department, including its use of CompStat and the broken windows theory. Others note a trend towards racial and cultural tolerance among the city’s residents.
Underlying all this good news is a disturbing statistic. 95.1% of all murder victims and 95.9% of all shooting victims in New York City are black or Hispanic. Even though on the surface New Yorkers appear cosmopolitan and tolerant, there persists a racially charged undercurrent when it comes to socio-economic issues. Economic class is now the main vehicle for racial discrimination in the city. It’s much more en vogue now to accept cultural and physical differences and show disdain for those of a differing economic class. The attitude has led to a decrease in economic opportunities for minorities and a highly visible and controversial income inequality for New Yorkers as a whole. However, this disparity hits minority communities particularly hard.
Income inequality has led some to fear that the lull in crime and violence is close to approaching an end and indeed is poised for a sharp climb.
Sociologists and experts warn that:
- The wide income disparity among New Yorkers is fast reaching a tipping point. Just as with other places in America, the trend is that the incomes for the top 2% of the population grows by leaps and bounds while the rest of New Yorkers see their incomes flatline or decrease and their choice of opportunities evaporating.
- The steady increase of crystal meth and heroin use among the population is a dangerous indicator for increased criminal activity and it is fast becoming an epidemic. Though not as bad as the crack epidemic, meth has proven to be an insidious drug that takes hold of entire neighborhoods quickly. The only reason for its slow spread (and hence likely the chief reason it is not yet as bad as the crack epidemic) is the fact that due to the lack of space and the density of the population, meth labs find it near impossible to operate within the inner Boroughs. With local manufacturing centers non-existant, increased vigilance at transportation corridors since September 2001, and tougher regulations on the sale and distribution of pseudoephedrine, meth has not hit New York as hard as it has hit other areas of the United States.