Why Are Crime Stats Up in New York City?

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New York Police Department officers walk along a street in Lower Manhattan March 18, 2012 in New York.
Photo: Stan Honda /AFP/Getty Images

Major crimes are up 4.2 percent so far in 2012, the New York Post reports, marking the first time in eighteen years that all eight NYPD "patrol boroughs" have seen an increase. That includes grand larceny, sex crimes, and shootings, which have all jumped since the same period in 2011, although murders are down 15.6 percent. Mayor Bloomberg and Ray Kelly have often cited the declining murder rate in defense of their stop-and-frisk program, despite the fact that nonfatal shootings have remained steady over the years, or even increased. But when it comes to the rest of the city's climbing crime stats, the Post also has some questionable theories about the causes:

-The recent slowdown of “stop and frisks,” which critics charged unfairly targeted minorities.

-Pressure from NYPD brass to stop downgrading reported crimes.

-As crooks hunt for iPhones and iPads, they also swipe wallets containing credit cards, which has contributed to a rise in grand larcenies.

-Fewer cops on the street.

There's no quantitative evidence provided in the article regarding any of the above, although Apple products are doubtlessly alluring to crooks considering their sheen. 

The "recent slowdown" of stop-and-frisks, though, has not been documented at all. In fact, through the first three months of 2012, the department conducted 203,500 searches, up from 183,326 last year, and putting the department on track to break the record set in 2011. While Bloomberg and Kelly have acknowledged that the system needs to be "mended," they have not necessarily called for fewer stops, just valid ones. While that could result in a decrease eventually, it seems unlikely it's already affected the crime rate.

That leaves an uptick in paperwork. Downgrading crime stats has been a well-documented problem for the NYPD. "People complained cops don't take reports," a law enforcement source told the Post. "Cops don't want to get in trouble, so they take a report on everything now." So it's entirely possible that the city isn't more dangerous, but the dangers are just better documented.