New Yorkers grapple with fear and anxiety, while the NYPD struggles to rein in crime 2022-04-30 03:01:11


New York It’s a sweltering spring day in New York City, but Dana Eber is standing on the Times Square-42 Street subway platform in a heavy leather jacket. Her hands are covered with gloves and stuffed into her pockets to hide her jewellery. Although she is trying to seem relaxed, her senses are on high alert.

“I thought maybe it’s just a little better protection than a fluffy coat, in case I get shot,” said Uber, an actor and playwright from Manhattan.

For New Yorkers like Abeer, the fear that another crime stat will end up casting a shadow over their city.

“It’s becoming more and more of a mental issue for us, and we’re constantly worried about safety,” said Pilar Weston, a 53-year-old Harlem resident. “What will happen to me if I get on the train? Or if I walk in the wrong street? Or when I ride my bike?”

Pilar Weston stands outside Harlem 125th Street station.

“It’s a horrible way to live,” she said.

Harlem has been Weston’s home for decades, but it’s starting to feel less safe, she says. Try to skip the train ride when you can. She chose her way home carefully. She avoids certain streets at different hours, and is “always, always” ready to run.

“New Yorkers deserve better”

After three decades of historic lows, crime rates across New York City are beginning to rise Tick ​​in the year 2020.
Officials blamed the rise on a combination of factorsincluding changes made to justice system – Like New York’s new bail reform law – and a deluge of Illegally Trafficked Weaponswhich defense groups and Criminologists say it was inflamed due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.

The economic and social hardships caused by the pandemic have played a role in the increase in crime, with the number of people experiencing homelessness since the start of the pandemic increasing “significantly,” according to Mayor Eric Adams.

In January, Adams announced a comprehensive plan To combat the wave of crime. It includes an increase in the number of officers on patrol, additional resources for the gun control unit located in the city, New technology to stem the flow of weapons and create jobs for vulnerable populations. It also restores a file Controversial civilian clothing unit On the police force renamed “Neighborhood Safety Teams”.
Police officers stand outside the Harlem 125th Street station.

Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell confirmed the plan, saying the NYPD was committed to tackling crime head-on.

“The men and women of the New York City Police Department are proactively addressing the deep-rooted causes of criminal behavior,” Sewell said in a statement at the time. “The NYPD will never relent, and the department has made too much progress over the decades—and has invested too much in the communities they serve—to fall back by any measure. New Yorkers deserve better.”

The plan couldn’t have come soon enough, according to Margo Barras. Like many Asian Americans in town, she lives with the added anxiety of hate crimes.

Margo Barras in Bryant Park.  Paras, who is Asian American, spoke about her fear of being the victim of the next hate crime.

“I live in constant fear and anxiety of being the next target for someone,” Baras, 35, said. “I’m always on the verge of having a panic attack when I’m on trains or even walking during the day. It’s not safe for us.”

Hate crimes in New York City have increased 76% so far this year compared to the same period last year, according to data from the New York Police Department. Hate Crime Task Force.
Asian Americans have been particularly targeted, usually because of Misplaced blame for the epidemic.

Barras lives in New Jersey but travels to town to attend school. She says she has no choice but to continue her usual routine, but the tension is enormous. Sitting on a bench in Bryant Park, Barras recounts the horror stories she heard from family and friends, including one, she says, who was randomly punched in the chest while walking through a park.

Patrick Curley on a train at the Times Square-42 Street subway station.

Patrick Curley, 70, a lifelong New Yorker who has lived on the Lower East Side, also welcomes the mayor’s plan, and says he’s confident the NYPD will restore public safety.

“I trust our police officers will keep us safe,” Curley said.

Curley, who lived at the height of crime in the city In the 1980s, he pointed to the walls of the Times Square-42 Street subway station, noting how they had once been covered in graffiti and that the platform had been smashed.

“It’s not like the ’70s or the ’80s,” he said. “Crime levels here are going down and up again, but it’s still not comparable. For someone new to New York City, it feels like things are going downhill, but New York is always coming back.”

The The city witnessed 1,814 murders in 1980the year the New York Times namedThe worst crime year in the city’s history. This assessment was tempered at the height of the cocaine epidemic in 1990, when The Times reported that New York City had registered 2245 murders.

More policing is not the answer

Other New Yorkers, like Rashid Blaine, are concerned about an uptick in crime but cast doubt on the mayor’s plan. He says the focus on increasing police work is misplaced and potentially counterproductive.

as a violent boycott of NYC Cure Violencethe city’s crime prevention program Blain, 23, walks in Harlem talking with at-risk youth to de-escalate conflicts and inspire them to find paths other than crime.

He says his experience has shown him that there are more effective ways to fight crime than policing.

“More policing is not the answer,” said Blaine, who lives in the Bronx. “The police in our communities don’t communicate well with people and vice versa. There is a trust issue that occurs and we feel we are not safe around them.”

Police officers standing inside the Harlem 125th Street station.

He fears that more policing will alienate communities of color and even negatively affect them.

“Violence behaves like an epidemic of an infectious disease,” Blaine said. “If we want to fix the escalation of violence, we have to start with poverty, which is the root of all violence, and fix the lack of resources for young people, as well as mental health.”

Carmen Perez-Jordan, CEO of the nonprofit Rally for Justice, Approves. The organization’s mission is to “eradicate the racial inequality that permeates the justice system,” According to their website.
Having lived in the city for 12 years, Perez Jordan, 45, says she’s aware of what excessive policing can do in black and Latino neighborhoods. It is particularly interested in bringing back plainclothes officers, who in the past have been accused of violating the rights of minorities in controversial methods such as Pause searches and frisk. These searches, in which the police stopped and searched people they considered suspicious, disproportionately targeted Black and Latino men.

“When violent crime increases, it is usually black and low-income communities that suffer the most, and I expect what is happening now to follow that trend,” said Perez-Jordan.

She believes the mayor’s plan does little to address the underlying factors that have contributed to high crime rates.

“What I’m seeing is not just a crime, it’s a huge red flag that something deeper is going on in these communities and in the lives of these people,” she said.

“We really need to ask ourselves, what compels someone to steal from stores, use drugs in public, or pick up a gun and hurt someone? What does a person have to go through to think these things are okay?” ” She said.

People lounging in Union Square in New York City.

Standing on the edge of a sunny street next to Central Park, Perez Jordan admits the problem is closer to home than most people imagine. In the past year, she has lost loved ones to an increase in violent crime, as well as drug overdoses and Covid-19.

“The price of a gallon of milk is $4.62. Rents continue to rise unsustainably,” Perez Jordan said. “Mental health diagnoses have increased, the rate of homelessness has skyrocketed, and fentanyl overdoses and deaths have decimated poor communities. All this while nearly a million Americans have died from a virus that has killed more than six million people worldwide in the past two years of lockdown my world “.

“I think it’s safe to say we should have seen this coming,” she said. “People are hurting, people are desperate, and those who have had this all their lives are fed up.”

What New York needs most, according to Perez Jordan, are interventions that “really produce community safety,” such as mental health services, substance abuse counseling, housing programs, and more social workers.

‘I should feel safe at home’

Ty Sumter in Union Square.  Sumpter, a manager at a nearby Trader Joe's, said he no longer felt safe walking in town.

Ty Sumter fondly looks back on the ‘good old days’. Smiling, he excitedly recounts everything he was doing in New York when he felt safe walking alone and taking the train home at night.

Peaceful routine has become a memory of the past, he says, and a day that passes without incident is a blessing he doesn’t take for granted.

“For someone who travels late at night and early in the morning, I’ve seen a lot of scary things. But it’s an everyday thing now,” Sumter said. “As someone who grew up here in the ’90s, we had to walk together. We didn’t let our friends ride the trains alone. We’re back in those days.”

Sumter, 47, is a manager at Trader Joe’s near Union Square, on his way home from work. Despite the blue skies and the cheerful noise of families playing in the nearby park, he doesn’t tend to linger.

“I love New York more than anything,” Sumter said. “It’s like finding the whole world in just one place.” “But these levels of crime make me not want to do anything anymore. Even in this nice weather, I want to run around but for what? I don’t feel safe. There is a police station here, and I still don’t. I don’t feel safe. I just want back to home “.

Entrance to the Times Square-42nd Street subway station.

Weston shares similar thoughts as she stands outside the CVS store next to the 125th Street subway station in Harlem. She just finished talking to a friend who had his car crashed again.

“It’s really heartbreaking,” she said of the rise in crime.

To have to walk in the neighborhood where you grew up, into your house, and constantly look over your shoulder all the time and everywhere you go—it bothers you too much to do it where you come from,” she said, referring to her heart.

“It’s home,” she said. “I should feel safe at home.”