opinion | On Crime, New York Mayor Eric Adams Is Stuck in 1994

Whatever his motive, it is deeply disturbing that the black mayor of America’s largest city is making these ideas credible. Years of study of this policy have not conclusively shown that it works. While crime has fallen in many cities since the early 1990s, it’s not clear exactly why. However, the effects of the policy are well known and devastating. Mr. Adams is sending a message that the lasting collateral damage the policies have inflicted on black communities may be a necessary and acceptable cost to bear.

Long before he became mayor, Mr. Adams was a police officer. He spent two decades with the city’s police force and eventually rose to captain. He rarely misses an opportunity to tout the experience, arguing that it makes him uniquely qualified to keep the city safe as mayor. During last year’s mayoral campaign, he also expressed an interest in taking a much broader view of public safety, investing in education, jobs and even dyslexia screenings to not only improve the lives of New Yorkers, but make the city safer in the long run. to make. Thanks in part to that promise, he won the election.

Four months after Mr. Adams, some of those promises are still on track, such as an expanded summer job program to hire 100,000 young people. He has also proposed that more money be allocated to housing and mental health care. That’s all encouraging. So is his support for community-based anti-violence groups known as “violence interrupters,” which have shown great promise in reducing gun violence in New York in recent years.

But faced with rising crime, the nightmare scenario for any major city mayor, Mr. Adams has largely withdrawn into familiar territory.

This year, Mr. Adams has so far reinstated the police’s controversial anti-arms unit, but with safeguards, he says she will be more accountable to the communities they serve. He has led a campaign to remove homeless people living on the streets. He supported rolling back Albany’s landmark criminal justice reforms, including pushing for state law to be amended so that 16- and 17-year-olds charged with certain gun crimes could be charged as adults. This week, he proposed adding another $182 million in taxpayer dollars to the NYPD budget, which is already more than $5 billion. So far, his plans to reform the department have been vague.

Police work is part of the solution to the city’s public safety concerns. But in 2022, more aggressive policing may not be the only significant answer. Years of research suggests that New York’s decades-long reversal of high crime rates since the 1990s was most likely the result of many factors, including but not limited to changes in police tactics.

Learning those lessons should help you recognize that the other crises New York faces — from housing to mental health to unemployment — may be just as important to public safety as police support. For Mr. Adams, that means approaching city housing policies, mental health care and job quality with the same urgency as rising crime. In New York City, the unemployment rate was 6.5 percent seasonally adjusted in March, compared to 3.6 percent nationwide.

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