New York City officials have proudly announced that 2013 saw a dramatic decline in homicides. As of Monday, the city had 333 murders in 2013 — a 20.1 percent decrease from 2012. Last year’s 417 homicides in New York City were already part of a trend of fewer murders.
Other hopeful statistics show that there was nearly a 20 percent drop in shootings, as well. Despite out-going Mayor Bloomberg’s declaration that New York City has become the safest city in the US, some neighborhoods haven’t seen a decrease in violent crime.
The same figures show that some places, like Brooklyn’s 75th district in East New York City, had 18 murders this year — the same as in 2012. One resident, 50-year-old Celest Sutton, didn’t appear surprised to hear things haven’t changed.
“It’s been like this around here for years. It makes you sick,” Sutton says. Earlier this year, her younger brother Schriff Williams was among the 18 homicides in the New York City neighborhood in 2013.
Williams was shot and killed in October while sitting in a car outside a diner in East New York City. No arrests have been made. Celest Sutton feels hopeless. “What can you do?” she wonders. “His murder … is a mystery. No one knows what happened. No one ever knows.”
Wendell Middlebrooks, a middle-aged neighborhood resident, says, “It used to be worse decades ago, in the ’80s.” Even still, he’s not about to let down his guard. “I don’t want to be a victim,” Middlebrooks says. “You still have to be careful around here.”
Despite little improvement in some New York City neighborhoods, police heads have not shied away from bragging about the figures. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and Deputy Commissioner John McCarthy say Operation Crew Cut has been successful in decreasing the number of young victims of violent crime. Crew Cut is the name given the New York City police’s anti-gang program which focuses on teens.
Though New York City is seeing some of the lowest crime rates in decades, some neighborhoods are feeling little improvement, and residence face continuing violence.