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If NYC Crime Numbers Are Down, Why Are Many People Still Afraid?

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced a $485 million plan to combat gun violence in New York City last week. The initiatives are largely aimed at prevention and would focus on six precincts in the Bronx and Brooklyn, where nearly a quarter of the city’s shootings last year took place. Since the mayor established a gun violence task force last year, there have been fewer shootings in the city, down 26% so far this year compared with last, the New York Times reports. Murder has declined by 11%. Burglaries and robberies are also less frequent. The question of how bad crime actually is versus how bad it is perceived to be is complicated by the occurrence of rare but terrifying incidents, like the death of Michelle Go, who, in January last year, was pushed onto the subway tracks by a homeless man in Times Square.

These sensational moments, compounded by history and exposure, turn the walls of reason, writes columnist Ginia Bellafante. They are attenuated, to some extent, by Adams’s own rhetoric, which has often lacked the reassuring effects of clarity. Last month, he blamed the fear of crime on the press. The effect of blown-out coverage of the most horrific events “plays on your psyche,” he said in a television interview, not inaccurately. The judgment came after a Siena College poll showed that 39% of those surveyed in the city said that they had “never been this worried” about personal safety as they were “today,” essentially echoing the mayor’s own hyperbole. Although the poll was based on a very small sample size, it delivered the image of a place operating at high-frequency alarm.


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