Zero tolerance: why Chicago is sinking into violence and New York is alive

Et in the history of New York City there have repeatedly been phases in which the city seemed to sink into a wave of violence. One of them wasn’t that long ago. In the early 1990s, the police counted more than 1.1 million crimes each year. There were 100,000 break-ins, over 200,000 robberies and nearly seven murders a day in the five counties, more than 2,500 in total.

Chicago can’t get its crime and guns under control. The problem is addressed in the series “Sanctuary”.

Quelle: Getty Images

In this apparently lawless time, in which not only East Harlem and the South Bronx resembled a war zone that even the police hardly dared to enter, the metropolis on the Hudson River was considered ungovernable.

Republicans zero tolerance

And no one seemed to have a solution to the ongoing problems. So New York declined until the Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took over the city in 1994 – with spectacular success in the fight against crime. Giuliani’s “zero tolerance policy” found imitation worldwide.

“I can still remember it vividly,” said Acting Police Commissioner of New York, James P. O’Neill, now at the presentation of the 2016 crime record detect. Every year we had more than 5,000 shootings and well over 2,000 murders. ”Today, he can assure from his own experience,“ New York is a completely different city ”.

The numbers from the latest crime report prove the changes that have made New York the safest city in America over the past 25 years. New York ranks tenth worldwide. According to this, crime in 2016 fell again by 4.1 percent compared to the previous year and fell to a historic low. In total, the city authorities and the FBI counted only 101,606 crimes.

New York is one of the safest cities in the world

Cases have decreased in all categories such as robbery, break-ins, theft, rape. The police recorded a slight increase from just under 500 cases to 20,807 reports only for serious bodily harm.

New York Police Commissioner O’Neill also reported success in the two most important categories such as shootings, which fell below the magical limit of 1,000 for the first time with 998 cases, and murders. In New York almost always one person is killed on average every day. The number of 335 murders is close to the historic low of 333 victims in 2014. By way of comparison: In 1993, before Giuliani began the “zero tolerance policy”, more than 2000 people were murdered in New York.

“We’re on the right track to make the city even safer,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, praising America’s largest police agency with its 36,000 officers. The Democrat wants to stand for re-election next year and, like his predecessors, will have to be measured by the crime rate. De Blasio’s relationship with the police has been extremely difficult for years.

Even before he took office, de Blasio had criticized the controversial “stop-and-frisk” program, a police program for increased control of pedestrians, as racist in the 2013 election campaign, as the controls mainly affected minorities. When two police officers were shot dead on duty two years ago, the dispute between the town hall and the regulatory authorities escalated.

De Blasio stabbed police in the back

At the funeral, the colleagues of the killed officers demonstratively turned their backs on de Blasio. In the meantime, the relationship is said to have relaxed a little with the appointment of a new police chief in autumn.

Chicago can only dream of the number of crimes in New York, which has been falling for years. In the country’s third largest metropolis with a population of 2.7 million, the security authorities seem to have lost the fight against the violence. The newly elected US President Donald Trump offered the city on Lake Michigan federal aid in one of his tweets even before he took office on January 20.

Black and Latino gangs

In Chicago, violence escalated last year and reached a new all-time high. The number of shootings alone rose by more than 50 percent to 3550 in 2016. A total of 4,331 people were injured as a result, according to the police. The new year began as the old one ended. Five people were shot dead and at least 30 injured on New Year’s Eve.

The situation is even more dramatic when it comes to the number of murders, which rose by 60 percent compared to 2015 to a total of 763. Chicago has more murder victims than New York and America’s second largest city, Los Angeles, combined. And that with a significantly lower population, New York has 8.5 million, Los Angeles almost 3.9 million residents.

The authorities blame the increasing number of guns and gangs for these crime rates, which have been rising for years.

Chicago has one of the toughest gun laws in the US, but it doesn’t apply. The city, with its gun laws and at the same time its problem with firearms, is used as an argument by gun advocates that tougher laws do little to help fight crime.

Chicago’s police chief Johnson complains that the laws are insufficient and that the penalties are too low compared to other cities. “If a thief who stole a loaf of bread spends more time in pre-trial detention than an illegal gun owner, something is wrong with the system.” Chicago police officers confiscated more than 8,000 illegal weapons in the past year. “The gang members laugh at us and call our legal system a joke.”

The situation is reminiscent of New York in the 90s. Back then, as in Chicago today, marauding gangs ruled entire districts on the Hudson, which the police hardly dared to enter.

Gang crime can be roughly divided ethnically into Latin gangs and black gangs. Scientists like Douglas S. Massey, professor of sociology at Princeton University, see a connection between race and violence and between poverty and race.

Only the policies of the then mayor Rudolph Giuliani were able to stop the violence. Giuliani had even the smallest crimes punished with the utmost severity.

Zero tolerance or: halving the number of crimes

The crime figures should prove Giuliani right in the end, despite numerous scandals and attacks by the police. When he moved into the town hall in 1994, the authorities reported nearly a million crimes. At the end of his tenure, the number had almost halved to 556,000 violations of the law. And the number of murders also fell from more than 2000 to 960.

Today this policy is called “zero tolerance” and is primarily targeted against the gangs. You continue to be responsible for most of the shootings in not only Chicago but New York as well. “We pick them up one at a time, and sometimes by the dozen,” said Police Chief O’Neill. Last year alone, that was almost 1,000 people. Most of them were later sentenced to long terms.


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