NATIONAL NEWS

FACT FOCUS: NYC crime is not worst ever, despite claims

Apr 18, 2023, 10:21 AM

FILE- New York Police Officers with the Transit Bureau Anti Terrorism Unit board a train at the Can...

FILE- New York Police Officers with the Transit Bureau Anti Terrorism Unit board a train at the Canal St. Q station, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in New York. False claims that New York City is experiencing a crime wave -- especially in Manhattan where Trump faces criminal charges - are spreading on social media following a congressional hearing on violence in the city on Monday, April 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Following Monday’s congressional hearing on violent crime in New York City, claims spread across social media that the bad old days are back in the nation’s largest city.

Conservatives and other users widely shared a video clip of New York City Councilman Robert Holden, who testified at the special hearing in Manhattan that he’s “never seen the lawlessness” he’s seen today in his lifetime.

“DEMOCRAT city councilman Robert Holden has lived in New York City for 71 years,” Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee that held the hearing tweeted, along with a clip of the Queens lawmaker’s testimony. “He’s never seen crime this bad.”

But experts and city officials say crime across the five boroughs is nowhere near the levels seen in the 1990s, and while there was a rise in 2022, those figures are already trending down this year.

Here’s a closer look at the facts.

CLAIM: Crime in New York City is the worst it’s ever been, especially in the borough of Manhattan where Trump faces criminal charges.

THE FACTS: While it’s true that major crimes in New York City rose last year compared to 2021, criminal justice experts say crime levels were significantly higher three decades ago, and that the current levels are more comparable to where New York was a decade ago, when people frequently lauded it as America’s safest big city.

The New York Police Department and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, meanwhile, argue the recent surge is already receding. Through the first quarter of 2023, major crimes are down overall compared to the same period last year.

Nevertheless, the notion of a crime wave washing over the Big Apple has been a steady refrain on social media since Bragg’s office brought charges against former President Donald Trump, who has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts related to hush money payments during his winning 2016 campaign.

Trump and other Republicans have blamed the purported crime wave on Bragg, a progressive Democrat.

“Soft on crime policies are going to ruin this great city and that’s why we’re here today,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, during Monday’s hearing, which was held near Bragg’s office.

Nearly four months into the new year, the concerns partly bear out: felony assaults are up about 8% and auto thefts are up around 11% compared to the same period last year, according to NYPD crime data through April 16.

But the other five so-called major crimes are all down. Murders have declined more than 6%, rapes nearly 8%, robberies nearly 3%, burglaries about 8% and grand larcenies nearly 2%.

“The decline since suggests that crime is hardly skyrocketing,” Jeffrey Fagan, a professor at Columbia Law School who specializes in crime and policing, wrote in an email. “In fact, the pattern suggests quite the opposite.”

The apparent dips come after total major crimes spiked 22% last year, from 103,388 incidents in 2021 to 126,537 in 2022.

That rise was driven by increases in six of the seven categories: rapes, robberies, felony assaults, burglaries, grand larcenies and car thefts, according to NYPD data. The lone exception was murders, which dropped 11%, from 488 in 2021 to 438 last year.

A spokesperson for the NYPD declined to comment, instead referring to a statement released earlier this month by Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell.

“While we are encouraged that five of the seven index crime categories decreased in the first quarter, felony assaults and grand larceny autos remain persistent issues,” she said. “The NYPD will continue to address these conditions while also remaining focused on further driving down violence.”

Bragg, in a statement posted on Twitter, noted last year’s rise in crime began before he even took office last January as the borough’s first Black district attorney.

“Virtually every major crime category is lower in Manhattan now than it was last year,” he wrote.

Christopher Herrmann, professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former NYPD crime analyst, agreed with the assessment, adding that crime levels in Bragg’s jurisdiction are also “nowhere close to the high-crime times of the 1990s.”

Major crimes are, overall, down 72% from 1993 in Manhattan, according to his analysis of borough-level crime data. The 438 murders recorded citywide last year, moreover, are vastly less than the 2,262 recorded in 1990, NYPD’s April 16 report shows.

What’s more, the citywide violent crime rate — the number of reported crimes divided by the city’s population — has remained relatively flat over the past decade, said Jaclyn Schildkraut, executive director of the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium in Albany, New York.

The rate has hovered between 400 to 500 violent crimes per 100,000 residents going back to at least 2011, according to her analysis of NYPD historical crime data.

“One cannot make the claim that crime is surging based on one outlier year,” Schildkraut wrote in an email, referring to last year, when the rate rose to nearly 540 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.

Holden’s chief of staff Daniel Kurzyna, in an email Tuesday, said the councilman “never said crime, he said lawlessness” in his testimony. He didn’t elaborate.

But a number of social media users — and at least one expert who testified Monday — noted that New York City’s crime levels pale in comparison to those in the home states of Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.

Indeed in Rep. Jordan’s native Ohio, rates for all seven major crimes are higher than those in New York City, according to Jim Kessler, vice president for policy at Third Way, a center-left think tank in D.C., which analyzed crime data from the NYPD and Ohio’s Office of Criminal Justice Services.

“In nearly all crime categories and in all of the states, New York City — with its population of 8.5 million sitting on a land mass of just 302 square miles — is safer,” he said during Monday’s congressional hearing. “And ironically, Manhattan has a lower crime rate than the rest of New York City.”

___

This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.

National News

Associated Press

Cause of crash that killed NY couple at Niagara Falls border crossing still a mystery 8 months later

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — A police investigation into the crash and explosion that killed two people in a high-powered luxury car at a Niagara Falls border crossing last year has concluded with the crash’s cause still a mystery, authorities said. The probe into the Nov. 22, 2023, crash that killed Kurt and Monica Villani, […]

1 hour ago

FILE - A long row of unsold 2021 X3 sports-utility vehicles sits at a BMW dealership Sunday, March ...

Associated Press

BMW recalls over 291,000 SUVs because interior cargo rails can detach in crash, raising injury risk

DETROIT (AP) — BMW is recalling more than 291,000 SUVs in the U.S. because the interior cargo rails can detach in a crash, increasing the risk of injury. The recall covers certain X3 SUVs from the 2018 through 2023 model years. The company says in documents posted by U.S. safety regulators that dealers will replace […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Authorities identify victims of fatal plane crash near the site of an air show in Wisconsin

NEKIMI, Wis. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man and a man from New York have been preliminarily identified as the victims of a fatal plane crash near the site of an airshow in eastern Wisconsin. The bodies of Sean Tommervik, 37, of Philadelphia, and James G. Sullivan, 32, of Brooklyn, were found Monday in the wreckage […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Fake protest set for TV shoot on NYC campus sparks real demonstration by pro-Palestinian activists

NEW YORK (AP) — A fake protest encampment set up for a TV shoot on a New York City college campus sparked a real reaction from pro-Palestinian activists, who organized their own demonstration against the filming, a newspaper reported Wednesday. The scenario unfolded Monday and Tuesday at Queens College, where the CBS drama “FBI: Most […]

2 hours ago

Lear production worker Abigail Fletcher rides her mini bike in support of the picket line as member...

Associated Press

Strike at plant that makes truck seats forces production stoppage for Missouri General Motors

Production has halted at a Missouri General Motors plant that manufactures trucks and vans, the result of a strike at the company that supplies seats for the vehicles. About 480 workers at Lear Corp. in Wentzville walked out at midnight Sunday. The strike brought production to a standstill Monday at the GM plant in Wentzville, […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears speaks at a press conference announcing that Raymond Ron...

Associated Press

Mistrial declared in case of Indiana man accused of fatally shooting five, including pregnant woman

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A judge declared a mistrial in the case of an Indianapolis man accused of fatally shooting five people, including a pregnant woman, after a witness verbally confronted the defendant in front of the jury. Marion County Superior Judge Chris Miller declared the mistrial Tuesday in the trial of Raymond Ronald Lee Childs […]

3 hours ago

FACT FOCUS: NYC crime is not worst ever, despite claims