New York: Much of Rudolph Giuliani’s renown and his bid for the Republican Party candidacy for the US presidency is premised on the assumption that he was a brilliant crime-fighter who dramatically turned things around during his mayoralty.
Many well informed people in the Caribbean who have believed the Giuliani-brilliant crime-fighter and David Dinkins-incompetent fallacies, presented by the news media.
Recently I heard psychologist Leahcim Semaj, one of the bright sons of Jamaica, on the radio exulting in the wonderful results that Giuliani had achieved with the crime rate in New York. And in a recent letter to the editor of the Jamaica Gleaner, Christine Stewart-Nembhard raved on and on about a Giuliani satellite presentation as a part of the JMMB leadership conference, as though he were some sort of god.
“I listened with bated breath as he spoke, because I was positive that somewhere in his speech would be the solutions/answers to the many problems we are faced with here in Jamaica,” she effused.
More recently, Randy Vassell of Brooklyn wrote: “Under the leadership of Mayor Dinkins several years ago, crime in the city had skyrocketed to the point where the city had become unlivable. When Rudy Giuliani assumed mayoralty, he implemented several strategies that significantly reduced the crime rate. Businesses moved back to the city and it experienced an economic revival.”
The facts are in the crime graphs of the FBI and the NYPD
But it the facts that should speak about Giuliani’s crime-fighting prowess and these are to be found in the crime graphs and charts of the FBI and NYPD. They state that New York homicide rates soared in the 60s from 5 per 100,000 to a peak of 30 per 100,000 in 1990. This represented an upward-sloping graph which had nothing to do with Dinkins.
From 1960 through 1972/3 the homicide rate in New York City increased every year when Robert Wagner (1954 – 1965) and John Lindsay (1966 – 1973) were mayors, from 5 to approximately 23 per 100,000.
During Mayor Abraham Beame’s term (1974 – 1977) the crime rate stabilised, fell slightly and then rose to the levels of his first term. But it was under Mayor Ed Koch (1978 – 1989) that the rate increased to 26, fell back below 20, and then shot like a rocket up to 30 per 100,000 in 1990, his last year and Dinkin’s first.
In effect, Dinkins (1990 to 1993) inherited a rapidly rising homicide rate from Ed Koch and turned it around in less than one year. How could Mayor Dinkins, the first and only African-American mayor, be blamed for a homicide rate of 30 per 100,000 when the rate had been increasing for a period of thirty years? Careful analysis should share the blame among Ed Koch, John Lindsay and Robert Wagner.
There are many non-Giuliani factors which contributed to New York City’s dramatic crime reduction. These include Dinkins’ hiring of Commissioner Lee Brown, PhD the original architect of community policing, and implementing the Safe Streets/Safe Schools Program; increase in hiring of police officers in the NYPD ; the cumulative effect of increasing prison times of violent offenders, keeping the off the streets for longer periods; the abating of the crack epidemic of the late 1980s, and the mega church effect
After Brown implement community policing citywide, within a single year crime went down while Dinkins was still in office. That was the start of New York City’s most dramatic reduction in crime that puzzled all the demographic experts.
The impact of mega-churches on crime reduction in NYC had nothing to do with Giuliani
New York City today has more Christians than ever before. The rise of several mega-churches, Times Square Church, Brooklyn Tabernacle, Christian Cultural Center, etc., have directly contributed to a decline in crime rates by making inroads into the population of street gangs.
These churches and others have seen a meteoric rise in memberships over the past two decades, transforming the lives of many hardened criminals, stunning atheists, agnostics and critics who are left scratching their heads of unbelief.
The crackdown on quality of life transforms the police into criminals: Giuliani’s police state
Giuliani’s signature development was harassment of innocent persons and others who are supposed to be involved in small crimes, because as the theory postulates, arresting petty crimes prevents the proliferation of those more serious. But as the Rockefeller Drug Laws enforcement has shown, many persons who were caught were otherwise decent citizens who jumped subway turnstiles (absent-mindedly or deliberately), urinated in the streets because they could no longer hold it or some other petty offences not enforced in decades, some in centuries.
This campaign turned the NYPD into a rampaging force, quick to shoot and kill, and beat and maim regardless of onlookers. For example an off-duty cop shot and killed an unarmed “squeegee man”—and defended his actions on the basis that the man was a “criminal.”
The many infractions of the NYPD invited threats from Federal Judge Scheindlin to hold New York City in contempt of court because, as she said, “Federal Court decisions in 1990 and 2005 are being ignored by the NYPD.”
When unarmed cousins Anthony Rosario and Hilton Vega were shot in the back and killed while they lay face down on the floor in 1995, Giuliani called the officers and congratulated them on their performance. And when Anthony’s mother, Margarita Rosario, began organizing in protest, Giuliani told her that her son died because she was a bad mother.
Thus the true legacy of the Giuliani years not revealed to the Jamaican and Trinidadian business community, as well as Dr. Semaj, is the many lawsuits stemming from police abuse, and people who sued claiming to have suffered at the hands of Giuliani or his aides. The city paid millions in the first three years of the Bloomberg administration to settle some of these.
While federal law states that strip searches are only allowed when there is a reasonable concern that the offender might be hiding a weapon, at the directive of Mayor Giuliani’s office, over a ten month period from 1996 to 1997, the New York City police conducted over 70,000 strip-searches of ordinary citizens for minor offenses including trying to board the subway without paying a fare, and jaywalking.
Specifically, the data about Giuliani’s use of strip-searches as police policy came to light when a large class action lawsuit was filed against the city in 1997, resulting in the largest ever civil rights settlement of $50 million, against New York City, and one of the largest against any municipality anywhere.
The vast amounts of other abuses and lawsuits are too many to mention. Readers can go here
Giuliani himself could and should have been prosecuted after news emerged that his aides covered up the use of NYPD personnel to chauffer his then girlfriend, Judith Nathan.
History should show that the true crime fighters were Commissioners Lee Brown and Bratton, not Giuliani, and it is one of these men who should have been consulted to assist with Jamaica’s crime fighting efforts.
New York Times
About Mark Lee
Editor, author and writer with career spanning print, radio, television and new media.