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The Place for New York Policy and politics

Citizens Union

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Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette

Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Citizens Union

You're on an older version of the site, please click here to view the current site


Crime/Police
Internet resources for what you need to know about NYC Crime and Police
Five Favorite Sites For Beginners

The Topic
"Crime/Police" refers to criminal activity, the efforts to combat it, and its impact on city life. Near-synonyms:Criminal Justice; Public Safety.
The Context
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?
The Reporter
Jessica Green is student of public policy at Columbia University's Graduate School of International and Public Affairs.
The Archives
See past monthly updates for Crime and Justice.

by Jessica Green

School safety

(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 learning."

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 additional security.


Five Sites For Beginners:

  • NYPD - "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 brutality?
  • 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, ex-offenders, sentencing).
  • New 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.
  • Essential Information on Abuse, Assault, Rape & Domestic Violence - No catchy acronyms here. The site seems oddly personal at first (it was set up by a mother-daughter team), but contains loads of links and resources for anyone who needs to know where to turn.


Other Recommendations:

  • 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: drug-related) offenses, even conservative commentators are seeking to repeal mandatory-minimum drug sentencing laws. FAMM's site includes a brief history (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?)
  • Financial 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.

Visit the Topic Archives!


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Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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