"Crime/Police" refers to criminal activity, the
efforts to combat it, and its impact on city life.
Near-synonyms:Criminal Justice; Public Safety.
The decline in the NYC crime rate may be the
greatest story of the decade. But in the wake of the Louima and Diallo
cases, NYPD practices have come under scrutiny. Accusations of racial
bias, abuse of power and infringement on civil liberties abound. What
is the balance between civil liberty and civil order? Who decides?
Jessica Green is
student of public policy at Columbia University's Graduate School of
International and Public Affairs.
(Dec '00) A new statewide law, the Safe Schools Against Violence in
Education Law will take effect. Though it is credited with being the most
aggressive legislation of its kind in the country, violence in New York
schools remains an issue. In recent months, the Governor's Task Force on
School Violence has examined the issue of teacher and student safety in
depth. Former teacher and Lt. Governor Mary Donohue concluded, "It's not
the schools' fault," during a forum at Southside Elementary School on
implementing the new law designed to make schools "safe havens for
Much of the law focuses on empowering teachers and schools to combat
violence. Districts must develop plans and disciplinary actions for dealing
with threats and incidents of violence. Teachers will now have the ability
to remove disruptive students, and principals and superintendents have the
right to suspend students for up to five days. (Suspension was formerly the
domain of the Board of Education, which had to allow administrators the
power.) All students will now receive instruction on civility, citizenship
and character. And a new statewide system to report acts of violence will
be put in place.
There are some more controversial aspects, however. The law will also
require all new school employees to be fingerprinted and undergo a police
records check, and cost the employee $74. Moreover, the courts will be
required to report students' convictions.
Jessica Sounds Off:
Former Commissioner Howard Safir is still costing the city
money. Though he stepped down as Commissioner three months ago, the city
continues to foot the bill for his security detail. Though the NYPD would
not reveal how many officers were assigned to Mr. Safir, the NY Post
reported the number to be as high as 13.
Safir now works for a corporate investigations firm, ChoicePoint Inc.
The Mayor, Commissioner Bernard Kerik and former NYPD commissioner Robert
Kelly asserted that such security was standard practice. Former
Commissioner Bratton, credited with making New York the safest large city in
the nation, commented that he never felt the need for
Five Sites For Beginners:
"Just the facts ma'am." The official site for the Finest, with the
official information: precincts, crimestoppers, FAQs. All right, so
the site exists in a vacuum. What did you expect, a page on policy
Federal Bureau of
Investigation, Unit for Crime Reports - This nationwide cooperative
effort provides statistics on crime as reported from over 17,000 city,
county and state law enforcement entities. Every crime statistic
imaginable, all in downloadable format. Especially dramatic: the Crime
Clock in the executive summary.
Vera Institute for Justice -
Non-profit foundation that works with State and Federal governments to
study and implement policy. Impressive range of topics, especially on
what happens after the crime is committed (e.g. drug rehab,
York State Assembly - Unveils Public Safety 2000: an 8-point
crimebusting proposal from the Democratic-controlled Assembly. The
criminal is political--check out the anti-Pataki potshots for a preview
of where Albany's battle lines will be drawn.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving -
Comprehensive and informative, and especially timely now that the new
car seizure laws are in place. With stats on local DUI rates and info
on NY chapters.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums - As the nation's prison
population nears 2 million inmates, most for non-violent (read:
offenses, even conservative commentators are seeking to repeal
mandatory-minimum drug sentencing laws. FAMM's site includes a brief
(including a section on NY's Rockefeller drug laws), updates on pending
legislation, and stories from prisoners and their families.
NYC Dept. of Corrections - Dig a little to find
revealing stats and information about NYC's jails (e.g. average annual cost
per inmate, 1998: $45,026). In the archive section, check out the timeline
of NYC's correctional facilities (did you know City Hall once housed
dangerous prisoners in the basement?)
Scandals - A good introduction to Wall Street crooks and classic
heists, among other corporate crimes. Too text-heavy, but don't miss
the section on pension fund scandals before you hand your Social
Security money to J.P. Morgan.
The John Gotti Tribute
Page - Free John Gotti! An amusing mafia site that includes
lessons on Italian profanities and a rant against the "Witless
Protection Program." Also provides a good Links page for those
interested in more traditional approaches to Organized Crime.