-Other Crime Priorities?
Crime is down in New York City; the murder rate is the lowest since 1963. Yet the challenge of keeping New Yorkers safe remains a critical issue.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, terrorism became the number one priority for the New York Police Department. The recent subway bombings in Madrid and London have also raised concerns about the safety of the city's transportation system.
In the last four years, the size of police force has been reduced by about 3,800 officers to 34,824, but overtime expenses cost the city more than $200 million a year.
Fernando Ferrer has outlined a plan to try to make the transportation system safer from terrorism. Ferrer wants to integrate transit employees into security planning. He promises to put more security cameras in subways and stations, set up an Advisory Council for Best Security Practices, and build better coalitions with officials in Washington DC.
"Random bag searches aren't enough on their own," said Ferrer. "We need agencies to coordinate with each other, instead of developing their own plans and policies."
As part of his crime plan, Ferrer proposes hiring 1,900 new police officers. He would hire 1,000 local officers and add 900 more from the federally funded Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. Ferrer also points toward his efforts to help create the Civilian Complaint Review Board while in the New York City Council.
To fight terrorism, C. Virginia Fields proposes expanding the Operation Atlas program, the police department's anti-terrorism initiative. She also wants to run public service announcements on television and radio to instruct New Yorkers on how to prepare better for emergencies. (Read Fields' security plan)
She promises to hire 2,000 additional police officers to patrol "so-called 'soft targets' such as the subways, department stores or movie theaters."
To improve subway security, Fields calls for more security cameras, subway announcements in multiple languages, and cell phone service in tunnels and stations. "Pulling police officers from their regular duty to perform anti-terrorism activities - such as searching bags in the subways - is not the most effective way to combat terrorism," said Fields.
Fields also promises to work to reform the court system so that domestic violence cases are addressed in a more timely manner. She says she will launch new efforts to prevent hate crimes. She also pledges to continue efforts to eliminate police misconduct by demanding changes in police training and recommendations regarding the approvals and use of no-knock warrants.
To address terrorism concerns, Gifford Miller proposes creating a position of "Director of Homeland Security for the City of New York" to implement the 9/11 Commission's recommendations. The Homeland Security chief would coordinate emergency preparedness and subway security.
"It's wrong for the mayor to leave safety of our subways and buses to a bunch of bureaucrats in the MTA who literally can't make the trains run on time as it is right now," said Miller.
Miller promises to install 911 phones and improve emergency communication systems in stations and tunnels. Miller also plans to organize what he calls "Citizen Corps," which will recruit 50,000 emergency volunteers. (Read Miller's crime platform)
Miller would hire 1,000 new police officers to focus on quality-of-life crimes, freeing up senior officers for anti-terrorism duties.
To fight crime across the city, Miller advocates extending CompStat to include parks and hiring more parks enforcement patrol officers. He also promises to renegotiate for higher starting salaries for police officers and to put a community court in every borough and increase funding for District Attorney's offices.
Anthony Weiner says the city must do more to secure its ports. He promises to establish federal screenings of passengers traveling into New York on boats and trains, as well as for those visiting high-profile landmarks, such as the Empire State Building.
He also promises to work to have cell phone service in transit systems and will mandate that subway platforms are equipped with necessary technology by the year 2010.
Weiner proposes hiring 3,000 additional police officers to restore the size of the department to pre 9/11 levels. Nine hundred of the additional police officers would come through the federally funded Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.
In addition, Weiner promises to work to change current laws in order to require all ex-convicts to supply DNA samples. He advocates the use of DNA samples for criminals in a greater range of crimes. He wants to ensure that rape kits are tested within 30 days and advocates reversing laws that prevent the city from prosecuting sexual offenders for crimes that they have committed more than five years before they were identified.
Weiner also promises to focus on quality-of-life crimes. He advocates punishing those who vandalize property with graffiti with the responsibility of cleaning up their own mess. He also promises to conduct greater investigations into hate crimes. (Read Weiner's crime platform)
In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Michael Bloomberg launched Operation Impact, the New York Police Department's anti-terrorism unit that devotes more than 1,000 officers to the protection of the city.
"We can't rest - not for a minute - nor can we stop in our intelligence, counter-terrorism, and response capabilities," said Bloomberg.
In addition, Bloomberg points to the overall decrease in crime in the city. Crime is down 20 percent citywide. The city's murder rate is the lowest since 1963.
Bloomberg has also focused efforts on reducing "quality of life" crimes. He has created special task forces to deal with noise, graffiti, and minor crimes.
Crime has decreased even as Bloomberg has reduced the size of the police force. In 2001, there were 38,630 full time cops working for the New York Police Department. Today, that number has dropped to 34,824.