New York City?has often had an image as a crime-ridden urban center. This perception has cropped up at various times, ever since it was known as Nieuw Amsterdam in the 1600s. But the Big Apple hasn’t been the most violent city in recent years, it has now gone 11 days without a murder. Apparently that is a record for my hometown!
Records show there hasn’t?been a murder in Gotham since Super Bowl Sunday of Feb. 1. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton have spoken about their appreciation for this good news. They credit this?to the hard work of the NYPD, but other factors include the cold snap and the snow. Weather can act as a catalyst or a damper to violent crime, especially murder. Criminology experts also cite statistics that show the decline of homicide rates since the early 1990s.
Bratton boasted that “only for the third time in modern history have we had 10?days without a murder.” Perhaps, and hopefully, this positive milestone can be extended. It is a welcome sign of New York on the upswing, and a good counter to local basketball team the Knicks, which recently endured a 16-game losing streak.
Naysayers may suggest that New York City’s no-murder streak may be a case of “no recorded murders,” hinting at nefarious hidden crime trends. But taken at face value, this 11-day stretch is cause for celebration, or at least pleasant contemplation.
NYC has had its share of notorious murders and times. Books such as “Low Life” by Luc Sante, “The Gangs of New York“?by Herbert Asbury, “Murder in New York City”?by Eric H. Monkkonen, multiple books about the Kitty Genovese murder of March 1964, and many others describe in detail the sad, horrific and occasionally celebrated homicides that have been committed in New York City. There have been a number of high-profile murders involving gangsters, such as the 1941 slaying of Abe “Kid Twist” Reles and Mafia rub-outs. Currently a particularly mysterious and grisly murder case, that of little Etan Patz in 1979, is playing out in a Manhattan courthouse. And the city is still haunted by the December murders of two police officers in Brooklyn.
Over the years I have known a few people who lost loved ones to homicide in NYC. In 1990 over 80 people were killed by arson at the Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx, and a student of mine, Sammy, sobbed because he knew people who perished in it. A high school friend of mine, Malia, lost her mother to homicide when she was an innocent bystander. And once or twice I spoke?briefly to restaurateur Abe Lebewohl, whose 1996 murder was never solved. He was co-owner of the popular Second Avenue Deli, and he used to walk around and talk to customers at their tables.
New York City is far from perfect, but for a big city in the United States to go several days without a homicide is definitely good news. Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton, here’s to more days of peace.