Crime Control Lessons From New York City

The Manhattan Institute and its City Journal are premier resources relative to understanding crime and key social issues impacting the nation. This is particularly true relative to the struggles of urban life in New York City. On 21 December 2022, City Journal posted an insightful discussion about crime and crime control. What works and what does not work. The exchange is from the 2022 George L. Kelling Lecture hosted by the Manhattan Institute. The lecture featured Raymond Kelly, an impressive leader in the police profession. Kelly served twice as the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD). He was among the NYPD leaders that helped to bring about the turnaround in crime in New York City during the 1990s. The lecture should be required learning for all politicians, before they are allowed to tinker with the laws and procedures that are essential to public safety.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Lecture on Crime and its Control

The lecture we seek to highlight occurred on 3 November 2022 in New York City. Renowned author and researcher Heather MacDonald provided introductory remarks. MacDonald drew clear connections between public policy, public safety and crime. Good policies foster public safety. Bad policies foster crime. Among her examples was the rise of shoplifting that has been observed in many America’s cities. Shoplifting is not spiking because of economic failures. MacDonald identified the cause as “a failure of will, the will to enforce the norms of civilized society.”

Consistent with the example raised by MacDonald in November, a 23 December 2022 article from The Wall Street Journal examined the scale of the shoplifting problem. The article cited industry analysis placing America’s annual shoplifting losses at $94.5 Billion. Secure 1776 notes as well how the Journal preferred to link the exploding problem of shoplifting to Covid. The Journal wrote: “Although shrink (inventory lost to shoplifting) is a perennial problem in retail, it really took off when the pandemic hit.” As with the Associated Press (AP), we say again, Covid does not cause reckless driving, violence, or crime in general. The spike in retail theft in America is not being driven by “THE pandemic.” Rather, it is an escalating problem being driven by increasingly failed public policies relative to crime.

The Full Discussion with Ray Kelly

The presentation with former NYPD Commissioner Kelly was in the format of a discussion with James Gagliano. Their exchanges are informative on what worked previously in bringing crime under control in New York City. The discussion also highlights how more recent changes in the policies that govern policing have fostered increases in crime. Another complicating factor cited by Kelly, declining police staffing levels.

Kelly instructed that the “hemorrhaging of police officers” from the NYPD is a “huge problem.” He added that this problem extends to the increased challenges in recruiting new officers. “How do you get people to join an organization where thousands of people are leaving, they’re leaving before they reach their retirement age or retirement ability, and they’re just packing up and going. It’s not what they signed on for.”

The full discussion is embedded in the link below.

Manhattan Institute: 2022 Kelling Lecture-Fighting Back Disorder in American Cities (with Ray Kelly, former NYPD Commissioner) | Posted 8 November 2022.

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