How the Big Apple Dealt With the Worm of Crime

There’s no shortage of theories to explain the sudden and dramatic drop in crime in New York City in the 1990s. Everything from beefed up policing to changes in the illegal drug market to the legalization of abortion in 1973 have been cited as factors.

Franklin Zimring, of the UC Berkeley School of Law, is the author of an interesting new study on falling crime rates in America’s grandest city. He was recently interviewed by the website Crime Report. Here’s a sample of the story:

The New York “Miracle”

By Joe Domanick

October 16, 2011 11:04

California scholar Franklin Zimring explains why New York City’s sustained crime decline offers a useful model for other cities. Crime rates have been declining across the U.S. But no American city has matched New York’s achievement, with overall crime dropping at over twice the national rate —and sustained over a 20-year period. The so-called New York “miracle” has triggered a cottage industry of criminological research into its roots and reasons.

The most authoritative study so far has been made  by Franklin E. Zimring, William G. Simon Professor of Law and Wolfen Distinguished Scholar at UC Berkeley School of Law. His latest book, published this month, The City that Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and its Control (Oxford University Press) has attracted nationwide attention and comment.  In an author’s Q&A with Joe Domanick, West Coast Bureau Chief of The Crime Report, Prof. Zimring offers his analysis of the city’s remarkable accomplishment, explains why cops matter, and punctures some once-popular theories about how to deal with criminal behavior.

The Crime Report: Why did you decide to focus on New York City’s crime decline?

Franklin Zimring: My last book The Great American Crime Decline, was a study of the national crime decline in violent and property crimes that lasted from 1991 to 2000— the biggest crime decline the country had since at least the Second World War. But the decline was really difficult to explain. You could shoot down a lot of theories, but you ended up without a really clear sense of either causes or effects.

The book pointed out that the nation’s biggest city also had the nation’s biggest crime drop. Crime had gone down everywhere, but it had decreased with special intensity in New York City. So I decided to focus on NYC.

TCR: And what was that special intensity?

FZ: There was a nationwide phenomenon, a 40% drop in crime everywhere in that nine year period after 1991. And part of New York’s  crime drop was in the tailwind of that national decline. But two things separated New York [from the rest of the nation]..  The city’s decline was twice as big as the national average, more like 80% than 40%. And the second was that ithas lasted almost twice as long. The general American crime decline ended in the year 2000. New York’s went all the way through 2009. Now in 2009 and 2010 there seems to be some new national declines. But New York had the crime-decline business virtually to itself during the period of 2000-2007.

to read the rest, go here:

to check out my own true-crime books, go here: Chapter’s – Amazon –

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons —


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