Safety

SAFETY FIRST 

It is Time to Restore Order by Reducing Crime in Our Communities

Homicides Surged in NYC in 2020

For many years, I have walked or taken the subway home from anywhere and everywhere in the middle of the night. But for the first time ever, since residing in New York City, walking the streets and taking the subways are now very unsafe after dark, and even during the day.

Besides the usual homeless individuals sleeping on the streets and subways, there is now a rise of very aggressive—and sometimes even violent—individuals roaming the streets of our beloved city.

Although this is not the first time that New York City has seen a surge in crime, 2020 is especially alarming. The crime rates in New York City have been on a gradual incline during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s time in office. 2020 has been the most dangerous time to live in New York City since I’ve called New York City my home.

SOLUTIONS

How Did New York City Lower Crime?

Community Policing

Step 1- Our Communities Matter I have worked in real estate for the last 11 years and it is a fact that when buildings are boarded up, garbage proliferates on our streets, neighborhoods look desolate, the homeless population and crime tends to rise alongside it. “Broken window” policies are accredited to lowering crime and creating a safer New York City for all.

The agreed upon narrative by social psychologists and police officers is that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, the rest of the windows will soon be broken. This has been proven to be true in both nice and rundown neighborhoods.

For example, in 2020 many New Yorkers left the city, businesses closed down, buildings were boarded up in neighborhoods like Soho, Midtown, Chelsea and so. Many of these neighborhoods looked like ghost towns. Simultaneously, the garbage started to pile up on the streets, the homeless population moved in, the crime went up. Suddenly, there was a rise in break-ins, burglaries and so on.

Broken Window policies are a wildly successful strategy for preventing vandalism because it helps address the problems when they are small. To accomplish this it will take building trust and communication between our police officers and our communities. We also need better trained and more police officers and officers that reflect our black and brown communities. We need plain clothes officers patrolling our streets, this is part of an all hands on deck approach to help in our efforts to eradicate the crime wave in our communities that have left so many mothers and fathers burying their children.

With that being said we need police reform, better enforcement of the current policies in place that prevents police abuse powers and violates our constitutional rights. In addition we have to enact new policies that hold policies officers who break these laws accountable.

With these measures in place I believe that we can dramatically decrease gun violence on our streets.

Step 2- Community policing. CompStat was credited with helping to bring down crime by around 60%. This system tracked crime through pins stuck in maps, comparing crime statistics of each precinct. The city conducted a CompStat meeting every month, and it was obligatory for police officials to attend.

In 1995, the year after CompStat was adopted, murders dropped to 1,181. in 2012, there were 417 murders—the lowest number on record since records were kept, starting in 1964. I propose we go a bit further and bring our community members, teachers, students, etc., into these meetings to create an inclusive environment for all.

Under my administration, police officers will be mandated to attend all community meetings on a monthly basis and report progress and concern from communities and their police officers. This is what I mean by “community policing.”

We have to integrate the police in our communities. They are not our enemy, and we are not theirs. This statement does not discredit the fact that there are some seriously bad apples in the police department. This also has to be dealt with.

Step 3- Community Crime Watch. This is a Keep-New-Yorkers-Safe initiative that requires every resident to have access to the police department, our city’s leaders and members of our communities, via text message or call through a created app. It would be similar to the Citizen app, but with more capabilities.  911 is for emergencies, and we do not want to overwhelm the 911 call centers for those who desperately need it.

We need a different capacity to alert (anonymously, if necessary) possible crimes, dangers or concerns that may propose a threat to the community at large. If you see something, say something. This will work as a pin-tack map disclosure for every police officer, members of the community and local government officials. This offers a real-time record of incidences and aims to help identify potential crime spots in our neighborhoods.

Step 4-. It all starts with teamwork. Lower-income communities have been cheated on many fronts. On the home front, many children in lower communities—particularly in Black communities—are growing up without fathers. This creates a situation where authority figures are foreign in the home, and when presented in the outside world, they are rejected. We need programs that aim to promote excellence in our young men, especially in the Black communities.

This will entail having our young men work directly with the police department, teachers and parents, to build trust in our communities. This requires police in our neighborhoods to be involved in school programs, field trips, etc., as well as—and especially—young Black men, to lessen the tension. I believe this will promote the ability for members of our communities to seek help before things escalate, as a prevention measure to crime. This is an all-hands-on-deck approach. “It takes a village.”  

Officers that police our communities should know every adult and child in the community. As of now, some members of the lower-income communities regard police officers as their white overlords. On the other hand, some members of police regard lower-income communities, especially Black communities, as individuals they must protect themselves from so they can guarantee a safe arrival back home to their families. This is not sustainable. It puts everyone on edge and creates a power complex between both parties, putting everyone at risk.

It is absolutely imperative that “We the People” help with crime prevention. I firmly believe that the power has always been in our hands. “Improving the quality of the neighborhood environment reduces petty crime, anti-social behavior, and low-level disorder, and that major crime is also prevented as a result.” From my life experience, I can attest to this theory.

FINAL THOUGHTS 

Although evidence shows police work is critical to crime prevention, I would argue that police primarily arrive once a crime has been committed. The question is, how do “We the People” prevent crime from occurring to begin with? Police authority will not be enough if we want to maintain a safe and crime-free city.

I believe people care for and protect neighborhoods they feel invested in. Neighborhoods will eventually become safer if its residents feel they have a sense of ownership and responsibility towards the neighborhood and their neighbors.

This goes back to “broken windows” and vandalism. If communities simply do not care about the damages done to their neighborhoods, problems will become prevalent and eventually escalate. The reality is regardless of how many times we repair the windows, the community still must invest some of their time to keep it safe.

Ignoring something as simple as “broken windows” is a clear sign that the society has accepted some forms of disorder. This makes neighborhoods seem vulnerable. And neighborhoods that seem vulnerable are easy prey for criminals.