The war on crime, conducted so successfully in New York since the mid-1990s, has paid off in a number of ways-revived neighborhoods, bustling commercial districts and an overall sense of personal safety. It’s important to remember, however, that the war’s greatest victories haven’t been in high-profile areas in midtown Manhattan. Those victories have come in formerly high-crime neighborhoods where residents no longer are afraid to walk the streets at night.
Those residents tend to be poor and nonwhite. They are the greatest beneficiaries of the Giuliani-Bloomberg campaign against crime. And they know it.
A recent poll by Quinnipiac University showed that 68 percent of African-American respondents approve of the way Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is doing his job. The poll was conducted while the press and civil libertarians have been complaining about the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy, which, critics charge, single out minorities.
While the policy certainly does raise some concerns, it seems clear that African-Americans appreciate the results of the NYPD’s efforts to make the streets safer in every neighborhood. The city’s minorities are far more likely to become crime victims than tourists in Times Square or wealthy residents with a Park Avenue address.
Good results do not justify unconstitutional or unethical policing strategies. The NYPD should be monitored and should be taken to task if officers engage in overly aggressive tactics.
But there is little evidence that the NYPD has done anything but fight the good fight against bad guys. The confidence expressed in Commissioner Kelly among the city’s African-Americans speaks volumes about the department’s sensitivity, outreach and effectiveness.
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