Summarizing the Year in Crime on the Lower East Side

As Capital reported today, Mayor Bloomberg — in “full-on legacy-burnishing mode” with just a week left in office– is boasting about his crime-fighting record.  His PR handlers put out a news release touting a 49% drop in the murder rate during the past decade.  As the year comes to a close, we wanted to take a look at the Lower East Side’s crime stats.

Unity rally following the murder of Raphael Ward. Photo: Councilmember Margaret Chin's twitter feed.

Unity rally following the murder of Raphael Ward. Photo: Councilmember Margaret Chin’s twitter feed.

The year had barely begun when gun shots rang out on Columbia Street, leaving 16-year old Raphael Ward dead. The incident led local politicians and residents to renew their calls to “stop the violence on the Lower East Side.”  Thankfully it was the only murder reported in the 7th Precinct, which covers the area below Houston Street and east of Allen Street, in 2013.   According to the NYPD’s crime statistics, there were three murders in the 5th Precinct, which includes Chinatown, and one murder in the 9th Precinct, encompassing the East Village.  The most recent tragedy occurred in the 5th last month when 30-year-old George Taliferro was gunned down at the Smith Houses.

crime stat 7th precinct 2013

Other key categories — including rape, robbery, assault and burglary were down as well.   The only spike was in Grand Larceny, which Lower East Side police say is largely the result of theft occurring in local bars and restaurants.  Items such as purses, cell phones and even laptops are frequently swiped from unsuspecting late night revelers.  Overall, crime is down in the 7th Precinct about 20% in the past 12 years.

10002 crime map

A few weeks ago, the NYPD debuted new, interactive crime maps, giving residents the ability to track various incidents by zip code, address or precinct.  In the map posted above, we highlighted the 10002 zip code for the year to date (statistics are only available through the end of October).  The larger the dots, the more crimes were recorded in a specific area.  Take a look at that sea of blue above Delancey Street, around Ludlow, in the heart of the LES’s nightlife district.  Clicking on the largest of those circles, you’ll find two robberies, three assaults and 21 Grand Larceny incidents.

The creation of the searchable map was triggered by City Council legislation and what the NYPD came up with has been the subject of criticism because it contains very limited information (there are no details about individual crimes).  In the waning days of the Bloomberg Administration, the already tight-lipped NYPD has been giving the silent treatment to reporters seeking information at local precincts.  Hopefully, incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio and his police commissioner, Bill Bratton, will opt for a more transparent approach.