As bad as Chicago? New Yorkers sneer at city’s crime
BY FRANK MAIN AND FRAN SPIELMAN Staff Reporters August 13, 2013 6:43PM
Updated: September 15, 2013 6:25AM
Chicago police became a punching bag for a New York politician and cops after a federal judge this week stopped a controversial NYPD tactic, prompting predictions that crime in New York would soon be as bad as Chicago’s.
“Welcome to Chicago,” the New York Post quoted one anonymous Bronx police officer as saying after a federal judge on Monday ordered a federal monitor to oversee the New York Police Department after finding the city’s stop-and-frisk policy was unconstitutional.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki pronounced on national TV that policing in Chicago “leaves a lot to be desired.”
Pataki, a Republican, was defending the stop-and-frisk policy and blasted the judge’s ruling. On Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he fired a barb at President Obama and his Chicago hometown.
If Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder want to investigate a police department, Pataki said, “why don’t they look at Chicago, where the civil rights of young African Americans are being not only taken away, but they’re being murdered in record rates on the South Side of Chicago?”
He went on to say of Chicago: “The policing there leaves something to be desired when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of young African Americans to walk the streets with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is vowing to fight Monday’s ruling on his city’s stop-and-frisk policy, saying: “I wouldn’t want to be responsible for a lot of people dying.”
If that were to happen, Chicago’s reputation might actually benefit.
That’s because Chicago’s murder rate is more than three times the rate of homicides per 100,000 people in New York City.
For more than a decade, Chicago has suffered unfavorable comparisons to New York and its falling violent-crime totals.
In 2001, Chicago surpassed New York’s murder totals, even though New York dwarfs Chicago in population. That prompted headlines such as “Chicago: Nation’s Murder Capital.”
Last year, Chicago took another hit in the national media when the murder total rose to 506 — a 16 percent jump over 2011. In comparison, there were 417 murders in New York City last year — a 19 percent decrease over 2011.
This year, though, murder in Chicago is down sharply compared to 2012. Through July, homicides were down 25 percent.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, a former top deputy in the New York Police Department, refused to take Pataki’s bait during a news conference Tuesday to announce the expansion of his narcotics strategy on the West Side.
The superintendent also held his tongue when told New York cops were warning the Big Apple may become “as bad as Chicago” now that a federal judge has overturned the stop-and-frisk law.
“As bad as Chicago? Well, okay. There’s also, how many 30,000, 35,000 [New York officers]. You’re going to, well, I’m not going say what I was going to say,” McCarthy said.
“We’ve got a 1965 murder rate in the city of Chicago right now. There’s some unwarranted perceptions that exist out there. We have had a historical problem with violence in this city. We still have a problem with violence, as does New York City — as does any other urban center in this country. The fact is, we’re making great progress.”
McCarthy said what’s different about Chicago isn’t about stop-and-frisk. It’s about gun laws and the fact that Illinois doesn’t have the three-year, mandatory minimum sentence for gun crimes that the state of New York has, he said.
“The priority of the criminal justice system in New York is to reduce gun violence. Our men and women are putting themselves in harm’s way to get those guns off the street. What’s different here is the fact that the law does not support preventing those guns from getting into criminals hands,” the superintendent said.
“Go look at what happened to [former New York Giants receiver] Plaxico Burress. He shot himself and went to jail for two years in New York. You get probation for gun possession in the state of Illinois. It couldn’t be any simpler. What’s different is the guns —not stop and frisk.”
Chicago Fraternal Order of President Mike Shields said he doesn’t agree with Pataki about stop and frisk. But he does agree with the former New York governor that Chicago has a “policing problem” under McCarthy’s leadership.
“Two years ago, we had billboards up around town about the shrinking of this department. Today, we are a national embarrassment with no plan moving forward except vilifying guns in Springfield and not the people who use them in murders,” Shields said.
“We’re not really on board with the superintendent’s policies. McCarthy is not chasing criminals. He’s chasing statistics. That’s not going to change crime in this city.”