Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Crime: Should New York Bring Back Rudy or COPS?

There was a silver lining from the latest garbage from Byron York as it motivated me to check out the BEA data on real government spending on public order and safety (police and fireman ala NIPA table 3.15.6). This spending peaked in 2009 at $297.3 billion (2005$). But forgive me for citing York’s interview with mayor “a noun, a verb, and 9/11”:
But even after his performance guiding New York through the days after Sept. 11, 2001, Giuliani's greatest accomplishment will always be saving the city from a long-term disaster of crime, insolvency and dysfunction. Especially crime. The New York homicide rate peaked under Giuliani's predecessor, David Dinkins. In 1993, Dinkins' last year as mayor, 1,927 people were murdered in the city. In 1998, Giuliani's fifth year as mayor, the homicide rate fell to 629 — less than a third the number he inherited. In Dinkins' last year, there were 85,892 robberies; in 1998, there were 39,003. In 1993, there were 100,936 burglaries; in 1998 there were 47,181.
York’s message is that the last time New York City has a black mayor as its mayor, crime soared but Rudy solved all of that all by himself. Or to put it another way – elect another Republican mayor or DIE! York leaves out at least a couple of details, however. The decline in New York’s violent crimes actually started during the tenure of David Dinkins. Secondly, which is why I checked BEA data, let’s check this discussion of President Clinton’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program:
The original Clinton plan, enacted as part of a crime bill in 1994, envisioned hiring 100,000 police officers who would walk the streets, visit the schools and get to know the communities they were policing. The federal government paid 75 percent of the cost for three years, with a salary and benefit cap of $75,000 per officer ... Of course, Republicans were against Clinton’s COPS program back then. Sigh. Republicans preferred to focus on punishing crimes and claimed to have issue with the federal government having any say over local government. It was a waste of money, they cried! ... Obama started funding the COPS program again via the stimulus, at a time when police departments couldn’t afford to keep fully staffed.
Reinstating COPS in 2009 was a smart version of Federal revenue sharing. While former mayor Giuliani should be condemned for this only Republicans can handle crime, we should be glad that he at least did not turn down the funding from the Clinton Administration for additional spending on police. Alas, the austerity minded Republicans today abhor such ideas.

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