NEW York's finest are going after street crime.
For over twenty years, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has tended to overlook such offenses as prostitution, graffiti vandalism, noise pollution, and the sale of alcohol to minors. Now, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says the Big Apple will no longer look the other way.
After promising last fall to crack down on the types of crimes New Yorkers feel lower their ``quality of life,'' Mr. Giuliani is following through. On Wednesday, Giuliani and his police commissioner, William Bratton, said they would crack down on aggressive panhandlers, ``boombox'' cars which blast their radios, reckless bicyclists, unlicensed peddlers, prostitution, and other low-level offenses. Giuliani believes that stopping such crimes is the ``linchpin'' of lowering crime in the city. The mayor compares such crime to a broken window. If the window is not repaired immediately the disorder invites more serious crime.
``The people who live in the city see a connection between the area of the city where we allowed it to deteriorate [to a level] where street level drug dealers have taken over ... and the danger of much more serious crime happening in that area,'' he said at a press conference.
The decline in pursuing low-level offenders was highlighted last fall by Sen. Patrick Moynihan (D) of NY, who said the city had ``defined deviancy down.'' Now, says Mr. Bratton, ``there is a sea change'' taking place.
The city's strategy, detailed in a report, is to give more latitude to the 75 precinct commanders, who meet frequently with community residents and merchants. To help the local police make arrests, the city is buying $500,000 worth of equipment, such as noise-level monitors, hidden tape recorders, and night-vision equipment. In the past, local commanders have had to turn to specialized units, such as the 165-member public-morals squad to make arrests. Corruption by Big Apple's police
THE final report of an independent commission, called the Mollen Commission, is critical of the NYPD's past efforts to weed out extensive corruption, which included officers dealing in drugs and preying on minority neighborhoods. The Commission recommended Wednesday that a permanent external commission be appointed to audit police efforts and to conduct its investigations.
It also recommended tightening job qualifications for entrance to the NYPD and random drug testing of all officers. The report was highly critical of the past supervision, which was termed ``willful blindness.'' However, the report noted the new NYPD management has shown a willingness to end corruption.