If New York's economy sinks to depths not seen in decades, will crime return with a vengeance? The New York Times notes that the last time stocks on Wall Street fell hard, in 1987, crime was exploding, and the city saw historic highs in murders. “Every recession since the late '50s has been associated with an increase in crime and, in particular, property crime and robbery, which would be most responsive to changes in economic conditions,” said criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Typically, he said, “there is a year lag between the economic change and crime rates.” Criminologist David Kennedy of John Jay College of Criminal Justice said New York achieved its crime-fighting success in part after police attacked all levels of crime, and fundamentally altered the public sense of what was acceptable. “There are clearly tidal forces in crime that can overwhelm the effect of economic changes in both directions,” he said.
New York City has thousands fewer police officers than it had in 2001. New York police commissioner Raymond Kelly does not subscribe to the idea that there was a strong connection between a city's financial fortunes and its safety. In Los Angeles, Police Chief William Bratton said California had been struggling with an ailing economy for some time but had seen no appreciable rise in crime. In Providence, R.I., police chief. Dean Esserman has seen a shift for the worse. “I see poverty as having a tremendous impact on both spirit and crime, and it is palpable,” he said after attending Wednesday’s Police Executive Research Forum meeting on crime and the economy in Washington, D.C.