How’s he doin’? Mayor Eric Adams unofficially wraps up his first long, humid summer in office today — and he deserves a little post-summer vacation, but then a cram session.
Murders and shootings are way down, an unqualified success when New Yorkers were girding for a third bloodbath-summer in a row. But other crime is up.
For 30 years, New York mayors have lived or died, politically, by how many people have actually lived or died. Murder-wise, New York, and thus the mayor, have had a good summer, and a good year.
For August (through the 28th), murders were down a remarkable 51%, to 25, from 51 last August. That number is a 26% drop from the 34 in August 2019.
The mayor’s good — no, excellent — summer means a good year: Murders are down 11%, year to date. At 282 killings for the year, they’re still 31% above 2019, but last year at this time we were running 47% above 2019.
If the mayor can keep up for the rest of the year what he achieved in August, and have closer to 100 murders for the rest of the year, rather than 200, we’ll be “just” 20% above those 2019 figures — with more work to do, but a lot better than last year.
That’s a rebuke to Adams’s also-ran rivals, like former de Blasio aide Maya Wiley, who said policing didn’t matter.
More good news, or at least half-good news: traffic deaths. Through Aug. 31, pedestrian deaths are 11% below 2019 levels, and pedal-cyclist deaths are 35% below. Overall, traffic deaths have soared 20% since 2019. But the increase is entirely due to people dying in cars or on motorized devices — often, not always, killing only themselves; those dying on e-things such as throttle bikes and scooters are up from zero in 2019 to 14 this year.
Vision Zero has worked, and continues to work, if you’re walking or slowly riding an old-fashioned bicycle. It was stupid of de Blasio to legalize e-contraptions without putting any safety standards in place, and Adams will have to fix it soon, before more people die.
Now the bad news: Almost every other type of crime is up. Robberies: up 39% in August over last year, and, for the year, 39% above the 2019 level. Assault: up 11 % in August; for the year, 24% above 2019.
Transit crime: up 18% in August. Yes, it’s flat compared to 2019, but crimes have grown more violent — less phone-grabbing, more random murders — and ridership is still barely 60% of the pre-COVID level.
Indeed, there is all that randomness of subway and street crime, which is why many people will ask, “How can murders be down, when I feel like I am about to be murdered all the time, just walking down the street or sitting on the subway?” The latest includes two early-evening stabbings in Hell’s Kitchen last week, by a disturbed perpetrator.
Part of this can be explained by Adams’ relentless top-down focus on guns. The number of shooting victims in August was down 31%, for an overall 9.9% drop for the year. This is good. But knife and knock-out-punch crime abounds, with fatal knifings up 43% through early August, The Post reports.
Bottom-up quality-of-life remains horrific. The lack of proactive policing except when it comes to guns explains how disorderly behavior escalates to robbery or assault.
When cops do arrest people for menacing or assaulting people, prosecutors and judges, following bail laws, let them go.
But, for a relaxing Labor Day Monday, focus on the good news. With his summer performance, Adams has set a high standard for himself on murder. He can set it as high for everyday crime and disorder, too — and meet his own standards.
Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.