We get that Mayor Eric Adams wants to accentuate the positive on crime: His NYPD has brought homicides and shootings down and gun arrests up. Tourists should come back!
But the problem is that overall crime and disorder are still up, and the cops can’t work miracles on all fronts — especially when so much of the rest of the criminal-justice system is sitting on the sidelines (at best).
And New Yorkers elected him mayor because he vowed to stamp down crime, period. Success on one vital front isn’t enough, and suggesting that the press and the public are overfocused on the continued bad news won’t fly. (Just see how well denialism is playing out for President Joe Biden.)
It won’t help that CNN is opting to air on Friday the Chris Wallace interview with Adams that taped on Tuesday. (Didn’t one of those N’s used to stand for “news”?) So the mayor couldn’t have seen our editorial on his ill-chosen Monday comments on how the “perception” on subway crime doesn’t match the reality.
Even so, his Tuesday remarks (at least, what CNN released as of Thursday) were more measured. Wallace asked: “You’re saying that the crime problem in this city is more perception than reality?”
Adams answered: “No, it’s a combination of both. New Yorkers must be safe,” later claiming that stats show Gotham is the safest of the six largest US cities.
Yet he stuck to this line: “An average of less than six [felony] crimes a day on a subway system with 3.5 million riders” which are then “put . . . on the front pages of your paper every day” create a “perception of fear.”
In fact, we rarely put subway crime on our front page unless it involves murder or at least someone shoved onto the tracks, which is every New Yorker’s nightmare. The city’s other major paper, The New York Times, barely deigns to notice crime (which doesn’t fit its agenda). The yes-it’s-still-publishing Daily News falls somewhere in between.
Nine subway murders this year (four in 17 days!) and 23 since the pandemic started is a huge increase over the preceding years. And as Nicole Gelinas notes, violent crimes against subway passengers and workers this year (through August) are up 39% over 2019 — even as ridership is still down by more than a third.
The mayor has to be frank about why this is: The Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul have made judges give revolving-door treatment to most criminals the NYPD catches. Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg doesn’t want to prosecute any non-fatal street crime, and most other DAs won office at least gesturing to the let-’em-all-out crowd.
Heck, the deadliest single step for the subways — the decision to stop prosecuting fare-beating (and so signal that lawlessness is OK) — predated Bragg.
Mr. Mayor: We’d like you to unequivocally say that even one death is too many. That crime is too high. And that you will reverse these trends.
Quit wasting your energy denying what New Yorkers see for themselves and attacking this newspaper for reporting the grim truth. Use it to call out Hochul, Bragg and the other politicians who undermine you, the NYPD and law-abiding New Yorkers every day.
With that message, we’re with you 100%.