Friday, November 23, 2007

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An extra special reason for New Yorkers to give thanks

Al Baker reports on some stunning homicide figures in the New York Times:

New York City is on track to have fewer than 500 homicides this year, by far the lowest number in a 12-month period since reliable Police Department statistics became available in 1963.

But within the city’s official crime statistics is a figure that may be even more striking: so far, with roughly half the killings analyzed, only 35 were found to be committed by strangers, a microscopic statistic in a city of more than 8.2 million.

If that trend holds up, fewer than 100 homicide victims in New York City this year will have been strangers to their assailants. The vast majority died in disputes with friends or acquaintances, with rival drug gang members or — to a far lesser degree — with romantic partners, spouses, parents and others.

The low number of killings by strangers belies the common imagery that New Yorkers are vulnerable to arbitrary attacks on the streets, or die in robberies that turn fatal.

In the eyes of some criminologists, the police will be hard pressed to drive the killing rate much lower, since most killings occur now within the four walls of an apartment or the confines of close relationships.

That last fact is too bad -- I was looking forward to the day when the combined number of homicides on Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent exceeded the actual number of homicides in the five boroughs.

Hmmm.... come to think of it, most of these shows are set in Manhattan. I wonder if we hae reached the point when the annual number of homicides in that borough are less than the number of homicides that would be portrayed on television. Not just the L&O franchise, but also CSI: NY and the half-dozen other crime shows I'n sure are set in the city.

Readers, go and check this out!

posted by Dan on 11.23.07 at 02:24 PM


The best numbers by borough I found were from 2005.
The total for Manhattan south of 59th St. is 25.
The total for North of 59th St. is 66.
That makes a total of 91.
If 3 Law and Orders each have 22 episodes in a season, that's 66.
One season of CSI: NY is 22 more.
That's a total of 88.
Given that the total has dropped since 2005 and assuming that some of that drop occured in Manhattan, we're about equal. Of course, I think Criminal Intent was canceled. Still, that means that the cast of each show collectively investigated just about every crime on the Island of Manhattan.

posted by: Aaron on 11.23.07 at 02:24 PM [permalink]

Criminal Intent moved to USA but is still churning out new episodes (and murders) each week.

Also, you're assuming one murder per episode. Sometimes it's a lot more than that.

posted by: Ryan on 11.23.07 at 02:24 PM [permalink]

I seem to remember one day in late 2001 when about 3,000 New Yorkers were murdered by strangers, though.

posted by: Useless Sam Grant on 11.23.07 at 02:24 PM [permalink]

I've been a fan of the _Law & Order_ franchise from the beginning, and I remember when they investigated crimes that weren't always Ripped From The Headlines. (I also remember the Good Old Days when _Criminal Intent_ started out showing the crime from the perpetrator's point of view.)

OTOH, with the reduction in homicides, maybe every real-life killing will be a headline.

posted by: VentrueCapital on 11.23.07 at 02:24 PM [permalink]

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