New York City’s police force has fewer officers, less money and more work than it did four years ago. Yet the city is safer today than it was before Michael R. Bloomberg became mayor in January 2002. Public safety has emerged as a major issue for Bloomberg’s as runs for re-election, the New York Times reports. Bloomberg wields statistics showing that he not only continued the efforts of Rudolph W. Giuliani, who made crime-fighting a signature issue, but did so while putting 1,000 officers on antiterrorism duty and avoiding racial tensions. New York City crime as decreased 20 percent since 2001, outpacing the decline in the nation as a whole, according to FBI data; polls show widespread support for the mayor’s public safety policies.
Former New York Mayor David Dinkins lost re-election to Giuliani as the city struggled to cope with the murderous legacy of the crack epidemic. Giuliani easily won a second term in 1997 on the basis of a sharp drop in crime. With his success against crime, Republican Bloomberg has largely defused a potential campaign issue this year for Democratic opponent Fernando Ferrer. Prof. Andrew Karmen of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who wrote a book on the city’s declining homicide rate, said an independent commission of experts should search for answers to New York’s success. “This issue of why crime is down so much in New York City is really too important to leave to the politicians, who will always claim credit for it,” Karmen said. “What has happened here is really quite remarkable.” In 1993, the year before Giuliani took office, there were 1,946 murders in New York. By the time he left at the end of 2001, that number had dropped to 714.