Even as New York City’s overall crime rate drops for the 22nd straight year, murders, rapes and robberies are all on pace to show increases, says the Wall Street Journal. The police department and outside experts say this one-year spike in violent crimes (15 percent for murders and rapes) is well within natural statistical fluctuations. Eli Silverman, a professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and co-author of a study challenging the accuracy of police crime statistics, believes the police department is manipulating statistics by downgrading many property crimes to minor offenses that don’t show up in the official crime rate. Violent crimes are much harder to downgrade and may be being reported more accurately, he says.
“They’ve made it [low crime] symbolic for all their achievements,” said Silverman, “They’ve made it a selling point for tourism and business. [ ] They made it a narrative, a story and they can’t deviate from that story. They’re stuck in that story.” Despite the spikes in violent crime, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly believes “in general that our strategies have continued to work.” Michael Rand of the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics considers one-year spikes statistically insignificant. “A 15 percent increase is only important if it’s the beginning of an upturn,” he said. “And unfortunately we won’t know that for many years.”