New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton has blamed marijuana for the rise in crime in the city.
Its official – murders are up nearly 17 percent from last year. Similarly, shootings have increased by 23 percent. NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton feels the escalation in the crime rates is solely due to marijuana.
“In this city, people are killing each other over marijuana more so than anything that we had to deal with an ’80s and ’90s with heroin and cocaine.”
Bill Bratton is strongly convinced marijuana, the “seemingly innocent drug” that’s been legalized around the country, is responsible for causing the murders. Speaking about the correlation that has interestingly been attributed to bringing down the crime rates in other cities and states, Bratton thinks marijuana is a worse culprit than the gang violence that was responsible for the brutal deaths of 523 people in upper Manhattan from 1983 to 1998.
A total of 328 murders in New York City have been drug-related. However, not everyone agrees with the Commissioner regarding marijuana being the culprit behind violence. Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, outspoken advocate of legalized marijuana, spoke on the issue.
“I’d like to see what hard evidence there is that it’s marijuana that’s driving a deep-freeze winter shooting spike. I think what you’re seeing here is that the commissioner is a little contorted at this point. He’s trying to use community policing, and be the post-Bloomberg, post-Kelly, post-Garner commissioner, but he continues to cling onto the Kelly stuff—Broken Windows, zero tolerance. Squaring all of that together can’t be done.”
Bratton announced that marijuana was frequently a factor in robberies that lead to shootings,
“We just see marijuana everywhere when we make these arrests, when we get these guns off the streets.”
Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, offered an interesting analogy that paradoxically linked marijuana with crime rates.
“While marijuana use is not linked to violent crime, marijuana prohibition is. Apparently [Bratton] didn’t learn from his predecessors’ struggles with violent crime associated with alcohol prohibition.”
What Bratton failed to emphasize was that overall, if you take into consideration year-to-year numbers, the crime rate is actually down. While felony assault has dropped by 18 percent; burglary is down 22 percent. Moreover, crime on the subway is down by nearly 30 percent, shared O’Donnell, who happens to be a former NYPD officer,
“We’ve had an extraordinary reduction in crime alongside an extraordinary reduction in police enforcement and activity. You have to take the long view. The city has changed, and it has nothing to do with the cops. There are $5 million condos in Greenpoint and Williamsburg—if that’s not a major factor driving public safety, I don’t know what is.”
While the decriminalization of marijuana may be a bit difficult to be exactly associated with change in crime rates, citizens in support of the legalization of weed are strongly convinced. Perhaps Bratton could have commissioned more studies to investigate the phenomenon.
[Image Credit | Andrew Burton/Getty Images, Observer]